It’s been a strange season for the New Orleans Saints. The team kicked things off with three successive defeats and finished 2015 with a pretty miserable record of 7-9, just like in 2014. The team’s performances led to doubts being cast about the future of head coach Sean Payton.
After days of deliberation, I'm told that #Saints coach Sean Payton isn't going anywhere. He and GM Mickey Loomis agreed he's staying. Wow
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 6, 2016
In recent weeks and months, Payton’s name has been linked with almost every job in the NFL from the Colts to the Giants. There was also plenty of speculation to suggest that the coach may simply be fired for failing to replicate the same sort of leadership that he demonstrated in the Saints’ famous 2009 Super Bowl-winning season. Well, Payton himself has gone and put an end to any rumors or speculation by announcing that he’ll be sticking around in New Orleans and has no plans whatsoever of coaching another team.
This news represents a big moment for the Saints and Payton himself. The team hasn’t made the playoffs for the last two seasons and 2016 will clearly be a make-or-break year for the famous, 52-year old coach. He’s been the most successful leader the Saints have ever had, but his position could surely be thrown into jeopardy and doubt once again if the team fails to improve next season.
That said, many Saints fans will surely be happy to see the team retain its head man, with Payton’s comments being particularly reassuring as he stated that he would remain with the Saints “as long as they’ll have me”. It was clearly important for the coach to come out and make his position clear and Payton has done just that. He even went one step further and denied that any other teams had tried in any way to make him leave.
Even taking Payton’s relatively poor performances in recent seasons, the coach would surely have been a top priority for many teams had he actually been available. This probably means that many teams were waiting for an announcement regarding the coach’s future before deciding on their own appointments.
We may now see some swift developments at various teams around the NFL who are in need of new coaches like the Giants, Eagles and 49ers. Now, coaches like Doug Marrone, Mike Shanahan, Mike Smith, Josh McDaniels and Hue Jackson become slightly more valuable to these teams and may soon themselves in new roles in the near future.
Getting back to Payton, it looks like there’s plenty of reasons for Saints fans to be optimistic about 2016. The coach gave a lengthy and love-filled press conference that outlined his determination and motivation to help the team regain the heights it enjoyed a few years ago.
Brees and Payton Primed for One Final Run
One of the factors that could play a big part in any future success for Payton and the Saints is the presence of Drew Brees on the roster. Many football fans were assuming that either Brees, Payton, or both would be leaving New Orleans in 2016, but Payton seems confident that he can keep hold of his star signal caller. At almost 37 years of age, Brees is approaching the closing stages of his career but still has time for a final bit of glory.
The Saints may have given up one superstar last year in Jimmy Graham, but if they can keep hold of Brees and get him firing then that would surely be the first step towards a successful 2016. Payton’s speech was filled with kind words about the city and nostalgic mentions of times gone by, but he also looked to the future.
Perhaps the last couple of seasons are just what the coach and his players needed to pull themselves together and bring some joy to the city once again. When asked about Drew Brees, Payton was defiant and amusing, saying that the pair of them had gotten older but that nothing else had changed between them. Clearly, the coach has high hopes for the future.
Payton won’t be replacing half his team or bringing in lots of new players, but really he shouldn’t need to. Fans and critics alike have known for a long time that the Saints’ roster is rich with offensive and defensive talent. Brees is a fantastic QB and Payton does know how to get the best from his players. The coach proudly proclaimed that “more moments”, “more wins” and “more playoffs” were certainly in the future.
Payton’s words will be music to the ears of Saints fans and should help to motivate the squad as well. Payton has promised to bring success back to the team and time will only tell whether or not he can keep that promise. Given his fantastic track record, it would take a bold man to bet against Sean Payton having plenty of great moments still to come.