Saints will be among top NFL contenders again in 2020

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Drew Brees
(Photo: Parker Waters)

Maybe the 26-20 overtime loss by the New Orleans Saints to the Minnesota Vikings wasn’t so stunning after all.

The Saints were missing two number one picks on their defensive line, tackle Sheldon Rankins and end Marcus Davenport. Guards Larry Warford and Andrus Peat had just returned from injury, and offensive tackle Terron Armstead was playing hurt.

Even though head coach Sean Payton said Tuesday that Alvin Kamara was healthy, the running back didn’t appear to be the same player he was in 2017 or 2018 when he scored a combined 22 rushing touchdowns.

Back up quarterback Taysom Hill emerged as the team’s second best wide receiver.

For a team with 13 wins, the Saints had holes. Some were hidden as the club rolled to six wins in its last seven regular season games.

Five of those victories came against teams that failed to make the playoffs.

New Orleans also took advantage of a bad year in the NFC South, winning five of their six divisional games. The Saints’ 13 victories were only six shy of the total combined wins by the Bucs, Falcons and Panthers.

So, on to 2020.

Currently with five draft selections including first and third rounders, the club will again lean on the expertise of assistant general manager Jeff Ireland. His drafts are largely responsible for the Saints winning 37 games over the past three seasons.

The front office have also done a solid job in veteran free agency. Linebacker Demario Davis is one of the best free agent pickups in the history of the franchise.

As the Saints head to the offseason, Payton looked like a coach who knew he had a very good team, but one with enough limitations to keep it from being a Super Bowl contender.

When you are coaching Kamara, Michael Thomas, Ryan Ramcyzk, Davenport, Cam Jordan and Marshon Lattimore, the future still appears to be bright.

About 30 coaches in the NFL would kill to have the young nucleus of the Saints.

Much is being made about the playoff exits over the past three seasons, and each year on the final play of the game.

It is heartbreaking.

However, the notion that the Saints are somehow a franchise in decline because of it is skewed.

Here are the facts.

The New Orleans Saints still have a very talented roster, Drew Brees is likely going to continue as the quarterback and next season is very likely to be at least a double digit win result.

The Saints will again be the chalk in the NFC South, and the 2020 schedule includes the AFC West which only had one of its four teams make the playoffs.

Winning championships – plural – is difficult.

Just ask the Patriots.

Yes, the New England Patriots.

In 2004, the Pats won its third title in four seasons. With a young Tom Brady, New England was poised to get many more.

Yet it was a decade later before New England won another Super Bowl.

In the offseason, you may – based on the egg the Saints laid against Minnesota – hear about a pending black and gold demise.

Those reports are greatly exaggerated.

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Ed Daniels

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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