Saints issues run deeper than head coaching change

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Dennis Allen
(Photo: Parker Waters)

What do zero turnovers, two penalties, three touchdown passes and four incompletions tell you about the 2022 New Orleans Saints?

Well, those were their numbers last week against the Rams, and it resulted in a seven-point win at home against a 3-7 team that is a shell of its Super Bowl-winning self.

So, as the debate rages on about whether Dennis Allen is the correct head coach to lead the Saints in the post Sean Payton era, maybe it is time to just ask this question.

Are the Saints just not very good?

As many in New Orleans pine away for a Payton return, they have short memories. From 2014 through 2016, the questions they are asking about Dennis Allen were being asked about Sean Payton, after three consecutive seven win seasons.

Were the Saints stuck in mediocrity? Could they ever get back to being true contenders?

And, at the time, Payton had the luxury of having Drew Brees, still in his prime, at quarterback.

For Payton, along came the 2017 draft, one that produced Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams, Alvin Kamara and Trey Hendrickson.

The Saints were on their way to reeling off four consecutive NFC South titles.

Last season, New Orleans was able to weather four different starting quarterbacks by running the football and playing conservatively. This year, the defense has taken a major step backwards.

In a league where scoring is down, the Saints are allowing almost five points a game more than a year ago, from 19.7 to 24.3 points per contest.

The run defense has taken a huge step backwards. A year ago, the Saints allowed 93.5 yards per game while opponents this year have rumbled for 132.1 rush yards on average.

The Saints are actually scoring more points, up to 22.6 points per game from 21.4.

So, if Payton were here, would the Saints record, currently 4-7, suddenly be flipped to 7-4?

Probably not.

Payton also must shoulder the blame for drafts that, since 2017, have been a very mixed bag.

The 2021 first round pick, defensive end Payton Turner, has been unable to stay healthy. The 2020 first rounder, guard Cesar Ruiz, has improved but he has yet to perform consistently in a fashion worthy of his first day selection.

The 2018 first round investment, Marcus Davenport, cost the Saints an additional first round choice. He has shown flashes of greatness yet has played in only 57 regular season games in a little less than five seasons.

If Payton somehow returned to New Orleans for next season, he would face the same problems Allen does. The Saints have the most dead money in the NFL by far ($65 million in 2023), no first round pick in next year’s draft (at leeast not yet, depending on Payton’s future) and no franchise quarterback in sight.

The New Orleans Saints are suddenly one of the toughest jobs in the NFL. Dennis Allen has not been dealt an easy hand.

If you think that Allen is not a very good coach who has underachieved with a talented roster, all I would say is go back and watch the tape of the Rams game. The Saints played a clean, solid game and yet only beat the Rams by a touchdown.

If the franchise were to move on from Allen, count me as surprised.

General manager Mickey Loomis knows that the 2022 season is a confluence of many things. To blame Allen for all of them would be a head scratcher.

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Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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