Okay, I said it in the description and that is the only time I will mention bounties in this piece.
I will talk about the one area of the team that I believe has the most to potentially gain or lose during this season.
In 2012 the New Orleans Saints will have had three different men fill the role of head coach.
The main man, Sean Payton is suspended for the season because of you-know-what, and the franchise decided to name longtime coordinator Joe Vitt the interim coach during Payton's absence.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Bourbon Street, as the NFL also suspended Vitt for six games for his role in the not-to-be-named scandal.
Which beings us to the third banana in this barrel of monkeys, Aaron Kromer, the man tabbed with leading the Saints for the first six weeks of the season, at which time Vitt would resume control.
What does this all mean? This one-team coaching carousel could usher in a myriad of changes across the NFL, as well as at home in New Orleans.
Before we look at some of the possible outcomes here are a three things to keep in mind as you read: Sean Payton was to receive $5.8 million in salary this season, which would have made him the league's fourth highest-paid coach, that Payton's arrival coincided with the signing of free agent quarterback Drew Brees, and what the Saints schedule looks like to start the year:
|Sun, Sep 9||Washington|
|Sun, Sep 16||@Carolina|
|Sun, Sep 23||Kansas City|
|Sun, Sep 30||@Green Bay|
|Sun, Oct 7||San Diego|
The Saints don't exactly have it easy over the first month of the 2012. Unless RGIII is beyond everything that everyone could ave imagined, I still seeing the Saints getting by Washington in Week 1, but after that things get dicey.
Carolina looks to be improved this year, and the team is looking to make a statement early within their division. The match-up of Kansas City's retooled running attack of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis is sure to cause the Saints' defense fits, and with a trip to visit Aaron Rodgers and the Packers looming the week after, New Orleans could very easily be looking at a 2-2 start at best.
San Diego is an enigma the best of years, but at home, its safe to give that one to the Saints, making them 3-2 going into the bye week, and Vitt coming to the helm.
The best-case scenario for everyone involved at this point would be the team doing well, finishing 10-6 or 9-7 making the playoffs, but not advancing. Payton comes back for 2013, and the franchise moves forward to hopefully more winning seasons under Brees and Payton.
Why is that the best-case scenario? Here are some other possibilities:
The Saints start off on fire going 5-0 into the bye week, when Vitt takes over. The team stagnates under Vitt down the stretch finishing 9-7. In the midst of a four-game losing steak Brees and Vitt have a blow out on national television while losing to the Giants 24-6 in the third quarter.
The team fails to make the playoffs, Vitt is released in the off-season when Payton returns.
Meanwhile Romer is offered the Philadelphia head coaching job and leads the Eagles to the Super Bowl two years later. Payton returns, but the team never recovers the swagger it once possessed.
The Saints start off slowly under Romer getting out to a 2-3 start. Vitt takes over following the bye week and leads the Saints on a 14-game winning streak and their second Super Bowl victory.
The Saints ask Payton to negotiate his contract, which he refuses, and the franchise and coach agree to aprt ways.
Vitt is named head coach and sees diminishing returns each of his three season as coach, as the Saints slip back to mediocrity with an aging Brees. Payton goes on to become coach of the Jets, where he labors to a 22-26 record over three years without a franchise quarterback.
The Saints run the table in 2012, led by MVP Drew Brees and his 6,200 passing yards. Brees obliterates NFL records with 58 touchdowns and a quarterback rating over 130.
When asked about the season in a post Super Bowl press conference, Brees states, "I just knew that with all the turmoil we were facing coming into this year, I had to take control of the offense."
Ownership looks at their payroll and parts ways with head Coach Payton as well Vitt. Brees is named the first player/coach of the modern era and leads the Saints to another championship before retiring.
Granted some are more likely than others, and there are countless other scenarios that could play out, which is why this situation is one of the season's most compelling story lines.