The 2021 season is spiraling and it’s Sean Payton’s fault
For the Saints, the beginning of the end of the 2021 season wasn’t Jameis Winston’s knee injury.
It wasn’t the mysterious knee injuries suffered by Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, either. Nor was it both starting offensive tackles getting hurt at the same time.
No, the season unraveled long before that. It began with the bizarre situation between Michael Thomas, the team, and his ankle surgery – or lack thereof. It continued when the team cut its presumptive WR2, Emmanuel Sanders, and failed to sign or draft a replacement. The team’s fate was all but sealed when New Orleans native, former Newman Greenie and LSU Tiger Odell Beckham Jr. betrayed his city and signed with the Los Angeles Rams mid-season.
Outside of the banged up Kamara and Ingram, the Saints currently have no receiving weapons and it’s costing them the 2021 season. After the team’s painful 31-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving, they sit at 5-6, good for ninth place in the NFC, a half game behind the lowly Atlanta Falcons in the Wildcard race.
The Saints’ collapse falls squarely on the shoulders of head coach Sean Payton and his miscalculation of the level of talent of the WR’s not named Michael Thomas – Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Kenny Stills, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, and the rest of the motley crew that’s taken the field this season.
Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying Payton is a bad coach or that he should be fired.
But I am saying that he made a mistake in talent evaluation that could cost his team a playoff berth and waste one of the best defenses in franchise history.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian is 0-4 as a starter and has made some questionable decisions. This was very evident during their massacre at the hands of the Bills, during which Siemian held the ball far too long on far too many occasions. The Saints managed to get crushed despite winning the turnover battle, 2-0. That’ll happen when you only muster 190 yards of offense and 12 first downs.
But Siemian also hasn’t had any help from the receivers, who have proven the thing they’re best at is being shut down until late in the third quarter when opposing defenses start playing soft coverages behind a multi-score lead. Siemian is like a decent cut of meat, but without a grill to cook it with.
“It just weighs on you, period,” Payton said after the loss to the Bills. “It’s something that, obviously, we have to look closely at everything we’re doing and who we are doing it with. It’s not like these players are going to come walking through the hallway. It has to be from within.”
At this point in the season, he’s absolutely right – there’s no one the team can sign that can make an impact. Also, the receivers that are on the team won’t magically gain the ability to create separation. They must be schemed open.
It’s not entirely his fault, but the Siemian experiment should be abandoned immediately, or as soon as Taysom Hill is healthy enough to start.
The 2021 Saints cannot win with a traditional offense. Taysom isn’t perfect, but the threat of his running ability, plus a healthy Kamara and Ingram, might actually open some passing lanes and give the offense the opportunity for explosive plays.
There’s only one man who can make that call, though – Sean Payton.