New Orleans Saints: Will Defense Cost Sean Payton His Job?

What happens when your defense is offensive? Ask the New Orleans Saints and head coach Sean Payton, who are off to another rough start.

Another game involving Sean Payton’s New Orleans Saints and another donnybrook. At one time in Week 1, the home team owned a 24-10 lead in the third quarter. But the Saints were outscored 25-10 in the final 18-plus minutes and fell to the Silver and Black in a game in which they surrendered 486 total yards.

Same old story as of late. Plenty of points by both Payton’s team and the opposition. These days, the defense is under the guidance Dennis Allen, who replaced Rob Ryan during the 2015 season.

Of course, there have been plenty of positives when it comes to Payton, now in his 11th year as the team’s sideline leader. Dating back to his arrival in the Crescent City in 2006, the Saints have finished no lower than sixth in the league in total offense. This past season, only the Arizona Cardinals gained more total yards per game while New Orleans finished first in the NFL in passing yards per game.

But what about that defense? In each of the past two seasons, it has allowed the second-most points in the NFL. In 2015, the Saints also ranked 31st against both the run and the pass. They gave up a league-high 476 points and surrendered 45 touchdown—a dubious NFL record for one season. 

On Sunday, quarterback Drew Brees threw for 423 yards and four scores (zero interceptions and one lost fumble) and still his team came up short on the scoreboard.

The bottom line is that the Saints have finished 7-9 three of the past four seasons, with a playoff appearance in the middle of that streak (2013). And yes, Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 campaign due to the “BountyGate” controversy, so is he to blame for the showing as well?

Things don’t get any easier on Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants, who ironically finished dead last in total defense and passing yards allowed a year ago. That franchise went out and got free agents such as defensive end Olivier Vernon, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. You will recall that this was one of the Saints’ win last season, a 52-49 triumph in which Brees (7) and Eli Manning combined for an NFL record 13 touchdown passes in one game.

That was a year ago. Unfortunately, this is a Saints’ team that has picked up where it left off. And if this club continues to struggle defensively and cost themselves wins, they could be busy doing some offseason shopping in 2017. Perhaps for a new head coach? Stay tuned.

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