Ignore Saints Critics, this has been the RIGHT Approach to their Offseason

Saints Head Coach Dennis Allen (Left) and New Quarterback Derek Carr (Right); Credit: neworleanssaints.com

This offseason from the Saints has been heavily scrutinized across the national sports media, which is nothing new in the past few years for them. Radio/TV personalities have been baffled, in the post-Drew Brees era, of why Mickey Loomis and the Saints organization refuse to accept that they should be rebuilding rather than still going for a title. After back to back sub-.500 seasons and missing the playoffs both seasons, and a head coach with a career 15-38 record, it’s easy to see the rationale behind that. However, after a very well executed draft weekend, fans should see the Saints approach as the obvious best option for them in 2023.

For starters, the roster has the oldest average age (27 years and 5 months) in the NFL. That may sound like an argument for going into rebuild, but these older veterans make up the most of the top end players on the team. Notable players that are at or above this mark:

  • Demario Davis, 34
  • Derek Carr, 32
  • Cameron Jordan, 33
  • Ryan Ramczyk, 29
  • Michael Thomas, 30
  • Alvin Kamara, 27
  • Tyrann Matheiu, 30

The point is, that number is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means that a lot of the proven elite players on this roster are in or on the tail end on their prime. It’s no question that the nucleus of this era of Saints football is a few years away from being completely disbanded, but these players are still more than capable of playing high level football.

Saints Linebacker Demario Davis (56) and Defensive Lineman Cam Jordan (94); Credit: 1079ishot.com

The veteran presence on defense has paved the way for more than a half decade of top 10 finishes, and after a slow start in 2022, it was more of the same in the back half of the season. The transition from Sean Payton to Dennis Allen came with an inevitable learning curve for the entire team but especially the defense.

Through week 7 last year, the Saints stood at 2-5, and were allowing 28.5 points per game, which was good for bottom five in the league. However, over the last 10, they went 5-5 surrendering a mere 14.5 per game which made them a top 10 scoring defense by the end of the year. This not only points to a stronger start coming in 2023, but for a team to only win 50% of their games when giving up less than 15 a game points to extremely poor offense. This is where the addition of Derek Carr becomes exciting because even marginal quarterback play would be greater than .500 with a defense playing at that level.

Even with the potential of this team on paper being pretty good in my opinion, it’s hard to justify it as a contender to compete for a championship. This is the main reason people have a problem with the approach that they have taken in the offseason because what is the point of selling out with the ceiling being a playoff birth. The upside for this team rises immensely when you consider the state of not only the NFC South, but the conference as a whole. This is the list of projected signal callers in the NFC going into 2023.

  • Jalen Hurts (Eagles)
  • Dak Prescott (Cowboys)
  • Sam Howell (Commanders)
  • Daniel Jones (Giants)
  • Kirk Cousins (Vikings)
  • Jordan Love (Packers)
  • Jared Goff (Lions)
  • Justin Fields (Bears)
  • Baker Mayfield (Buccaneers)
  • Bryce Young (Panthers)
  • Derek Carr (Saints)
  • Desmond Ridder (Falcons)
  • Brock Purdy (49ers)
  • Geno Smith (Seahawks)
  • Matt Stafford (Rams)
  • Kyler Murray (Cardinals)

There is no reason to not try and be competitive when the NFC has a quarterback field like this right now. As it stands, the conference has two truly elite rosters that we know are championship level teams being the Eagles and 49ers. The former lost its offensive (Shane Steichen) and defensive coordinator (Jonathan Gannon) and seven starters in free agency, and the latter is planning to start an already limited quarterback who is coming off major elbow surgery on his throwing arm in Purdy. The rest of the field is made up of a lot of teams with a lot of questions surrounding them, and the Saints find themselves right in the middle of that tier. The narrative that the Saints are trying to win their poor division in order to host a playoff game just to lose by multiple scores is simply shortsighted.

Saints Wide Receiver Michael Thomas (13); Credit: sportingnews.com

The offseason could not possibly have been considered a success without a strong draft, and the Saints executed extremely well, with all seven picks having clear paths to immediate contribution. If the injury issues that have been a major reason for the falling out of the last two seasons become less of a curse for them this year, the roster is good enough to compete with the highest powers of the NFC.

Possibly the most underrated factor of this argument is the Saints strength of schedule for this upcoming year being ranked the easiest in the league based on projected win totals for next year. Which makes considering a tank job seem even more outlandish. If everything lines up the way it should in 2023, the Saints should find themselves in the middle of the playoff picture, and their roster stacks up well with any team in the conference.

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