What Has Gone Wrong at the New Orleans Saints?

Scour the internet for New Orleans Saints season predictions, and you will find almost every article stating the Saints would finish the regular season with an 11-6 or 12-5 record, reaching the playoffs after a one-year absence, with some believing the Saints would come away with the NFC South for the fifth time in six seasons. So why is it that the Saints are languishing in third in the division, with a 4-7 record, and looking unlikely that they will grace the playoffs with their presence for the second consecutive year?

The 2022 season was always going to be one of transition following the retirement of head coach Sean Payton. In his 16 years as the Saints’ head coach, Payton guided the team to seven NFC South titles, the playoffs nine times, and a winning Super Bowl appearance. General manager Mickey Loomis needed to make an appointment that would go some way to filling the massive shoes Payton left. Instead, Loomis promoted Dennis Allen from his defensive coordinator role. Allen’s previous stint as a head coach was with the then-Oakland Raiders, where he finished 4-12, 4-12, the 0-4 before being relieved of his duties. No wonder the best South Carolina sportsbooks online massively reduced the odds of a Saints Super Bowl appearance following Allen’s appointment.

The Problem Quarterback Position

Allen’s decision to leave out Jameis Winston after the quarterback recovered from ankle and back injuries is baffling. Last season was the Saints’ first without Dree Brees, the team’s leading passer for 15 years. Winston performed well despite having limited playing time in 2020, and the Saints were 5-2 before Winston tore his ACL in Week 8. Saints fell to five straight losses without Winston pulling the strings, and although Taysom Hill pushed the team to four wins in the final five games of the season, he never looked comfortable as a starting quarterback.

Winston started the campaign as the first-choice quarterback, but Allen benched him after Week 3 because Winston suffered back and ankle injuries; the Saints were 1-2 at that stage. Allen put veteran Andy Dalton under the center, who has been OK but anything short of spectacular. Dalton has already thrown 14 touchdowns in eight games, including three in the 42-24 loss to Arizona Cardinals (two were returned as touchdowns). Still, Allen point-blank refuses to give Winston another chance.

A Raft Of Injuries

Every football team’s roster suffers from injuries throughout a typical season; it is the nature of the beast. However, injuries have not been kind to the New Orleans Saints in 2022. Wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas have not played together since September 25, and Thomas is still on the injured reserve list. First-round pick Chris Olave is a future star, but it’s a big ask for him to step into a struggling team and shine from the word go.

Cornerbacks Bradley Roby, Paulson Adebo, and Marshon Lattimore have all missed games, as have P.J. Williams and Andrus Peat. With so many defensive stalwarts struck down by injury, it is not surprising to see the Saints’ rushing defense is the sixth-worst in the NFL in terms of yards allowed.

What Is In Store for the Remainder of the Season

Allen has six games to turn around the Saints’ flagging fortunes, starting with a trip to the San Francisco 49ers on November 27. The 49ers have won three games in a row and are looking to cement their playoff berth. Three of the Saints’ remaining fixtures are intra-division clashes. They travel to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Week 12, host Atlanta Falcons on Week 13, and end the regular season campaign at home to the Carolina Panthers. Sandwiched between those games are on the road battles against Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles. One would think the Saints need to win five out of the last six games to stand any chance of returning to the playoffs.

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