As a fan, a New Orleans Saints season that doesn't include playoffs or a winning record, can't end any better than with a win over the Atlanta Falcons because Matt Ryan threw a game losing interception. Sunday's game was pretty awesome wasn't it? The Saints defense even looked not terrible! 2016 has started on a high note. Before we get to Sean Payton's future, the final football game we will really care about until September had lots of interesting things happen in it.
The only thing funnier than Atlanta basically gift wrapping the game to the Saints, was the fact the Falcons managed only 17 points and couldn't even rush for 100 yards. Let's just overlook the fact the Saints held the ball for over 10 minutes of the fourth quarter so Atlanta didn't have many chances to score. When the Saints defense isn't hemorrhaging points and delivering a flood of penalty flags, it's a reason to celebrate. Let's just hope winning 3 of their final 4 games doesn't cause the Saints to do something foolish like believe the defense has gotten any better. The last thing we need is the Saints talking themselves into believing all the defense needs is a fresh coat of paint. We know it needs a full renovation. Again.
Fixing the Saints defense for long term success is a topic for another day. On Sunday they held Atlanta to 92 yards on 26 carries for 3.5 yards a carry, which by 2015 Saints defensive standards, is like a finding a gallon of water when you've been wandering the desert for a week. You don't wonder how it got here or where it came from; you just drink and enjoy it while it lasts.
The Saints held Atlanta to zero points in the second half without Delvin Breaux and Stephone Anthony. If I were a Falcon fan, I would want people fired or at the very least publicly shamed.
On offense Drew Brees was awesome again playing on one foot. Oh, you probably forgot that since the commentators didn't mention it 600 times or at all really. Let's review Brees' season: 32 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions, 4,870 yards passing in 15 starts, and 100.7 quarterback rating. Take a guess how many teams this year had a quarterback start more than 10 games, have a rating over 100, and have a losing record? Only the Saints. Another brilliant Drew Brees season thrown in the trash because the defense was a flaming bag of poop on your porch.
The Saints young receivers, Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman, delivered some nice moments and give real hope if Brees and Sean Payton return that 2016 things could get better. Which brings us to the $20 million question of the hour, "Have the Saints put Sean Payton on eBay yet?"
After the game, Payton wasn't in the mood to talk about his future and pretended to be clear about his intentions saying, "We got the players in (Monday). We got to evaluate the roster. We got a lot of things we got to do. If I feel the need to give you an itinerary, I will. That's the answer there. That's the answer. That's the answer. You with me. I can't be more clear." Sure coach. That was as clear as a rain storm in July. Sean, you know how to make things clear? Just say, "I'm going to be coaching the Saints in 2016."
Simple. Except he didn't.
Media reports say Payton will meet with Mickey Loomis Monday and the Saints will let Payton talk to other teams. Some reports have the compensation for Payton leaving as being only a second round draft choice. If the Saints are going to start giving away their best assets for hardly anything, I suggest they go big and have a yard sale on Airline Drive. Give away everything.
"Would you like a Brandin Cooks? He's practically brand new. All we ask is a six pack of Abita beer and some some vintage Rex doubloons. Drew Brees can be yours for only $56 dollars some ice cold Barqs." If the Saints are gonna be stupid, they should get back to their 1970's roots and be very dumb.
Go big or go home.
The thought of the Saints letting Sean Payton leave for only a second round pick infuriates me to such a degree I prefer not to contemplate it. The entire Payton saga will play out very quickly. NFL teams(maybe even the Saints) need to hire head coaches and can't wait while other options get hired, so I expect to the entire Sean Payton drama to wrapped up by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest.
The next week off the field is going to be more interesting and important to the Saints then the last six weeks on the field. The ride might get bumpy, but at least it won't be dull.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecastor download his podcast at Itunes.