Some people are fans of the New Orleans Saints. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the New Orleans Saints. This 2022 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: New Orleans Saints. Louisiana: Nothing Works Here, And That Makes It Fun!™
Your 2021 record: 9-8. Going by tiebreakers and whatnot, this was technically the best team not to make the playoffs last season, but do you REALLY believe that? Fuck no, you don’t. I’ll believe in Santa Claus before I believe that.
Not that 2021 didn’t start out promisingly for New Orleans. The Saints opened their season by annihilating the Packers, and I was like oh god we really ARE gonna have to watch a Jameis Winston redemption season. I wanted to sit on a crab leg. Luckily for me, they lost the next week to Sam Darnold by 19 points. And then Jameis tore his ACL! Thank you, God! Sometimes you get it right. Not often, but sometimes! That was Jameis’s groping knee, too! He’ll never be the groper he once was. Good work, our Lord and Savior! I’d worship You at church for this, but unfortunately the Saints have a habit of helping to provide cover for all the child molesters who work there, so alas.
As a result of Winston’s injury, this team has drafted fewer quarterbacks than it started a season ago. There was a dash of Taysom Hill here, a sprinkle of Trevor Siemian there, and sprig of Ian Book mixed in at the very end. Stir them all together and you got yourself a heady GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO straight out of a Rachael Ray cook book. YOU CAN TASTE THE AUTHENTICITY, YOU CAN.
A lost season ensued. The Saints lost their best wideout for the year. They blew an 11-point lead at home to the Giants. In that same game, they gave up 400 yards passing to Daniel Jones and let Saquon score the walk-off touchdown. When both of those players are on the street next offseason, the only game tape they’ll show to prospective employers will be that one. Hard to believe these Saints ranked as one of the better defenses in the league a year ago when you think about that Giants loss, or when you remember that they gave up 242 yards on the ground to Philly, or when you saw edge rusher Trey Hendrickson skip town and magically switch both New Orleans’s and Cincinnati’s fortunes in the process.
Sniff around the wreckage and you could detect the scent of Aints-ism growing here. The 2021 Saints dropped five straight midseason. They got within two of the Titans at the very end but got flagged on the two-point try to tie it up (no good). They would go on to avenge that loss in the final week of the season, but it wouldn’t matter because the Niners indirectly knocked them out of the playoff field anyway. And then, a month after the season was over, their head coach was like SCREW THIS and peaced right the fuck out for a gap year.
Gone now is the foundation of one of the most successful NFL franchises of the past decade and change. The 2022 season represented an opportunity for New Orleans to un-fuck their current roster and bring in a new head coach/QB duo that could usher them into a second Old Gold Age. Instead, they decided that everything is fine just the way it is. To wit…
Your coach: Dennis Allen, owner of an illustrious 8-28 record in his last stint as a head coach over in Oakland. Dennis Allen is one of those coaches who is universally beloved as a coordinator, so much so that he always gets talked up as head coaching material even after failing in that role any time he’s gotten the chance. We call this kind of coach a Marinelli. Dennis Allen is one of the premier Marinellis out there.
But he’s not Sean Payton. Yes, Sean Payton spent the end of his tenure stroking his chin and saying to himself, What if I had Taysom Hill start at quarterback and at free safety?, but he was still Sean Payton. You’re not lucking into a coach that good again for decades, if ever. And pretending that a has-been like Dennis Allen can keep everything rolling when Payton, after a single year without Drew Brees in his back pocket, realized that even he himself wasn’t up for the job, is the sort of denial that only the Catholic Church indulges in. Quite the coincidence.
Speaking of looking the other way…
Your quarterback: STILL Jameis Winston, who’s such an unreliable player these days that you don’t even have to remember that he’s a crime-doer to hate his guts. The Saints toyed with the idea of upgrading at the
rapist quarterback position, but then lost out on Deshaun Watson because Watson looked at New Orleans and said to himself, Too obvious. So they extended the lesser public disgrace instead.
And maybe you looked at Jameis’s surprisingly pleasant stats from a season ago (only three picks, best QB rating of his whole career) and are ready to declare that the Saints have fixed him. But then you’d be ignoring the whole knee thing, along with the fact that, according to Football Outsiders, “only 70.1% of [Winston’s] passes were on target, per SIS charting.” That was the lowest percentage of Jameis’s career, which is incredible when you consider how incredibly off-target he was throughout his time in Florida. The only time Jameis Winston is accurate is when he’s trying to put his hands somewhere they don’t belong. Also, his middle initial is L. Flawless.
You tore up your knee, shitbag. My dreams have already come true. I hope you never walk again.
Sitting behind Jameis on the depth chart is a cavalcade of despair. There’s still Taysom Hill, who’ll do a farm-league stint with the Mets six years from now. But at least you’ve been spared a reemergence of Siemian thanks to the Saints bringing in Andy Dalton as their new, non-gadget aisle backup. Andy Dalton was once a credible starter in this league. He is now ginger Chase Daniel. He’ll start half the games this season. Maybe you guys should have drafted someone.
What’s new that sucks: Just as the Vikings did, the Saints overspent to keep together a barely passable roster that has zero depth and even fewer hopes of making an extended playoff run. Did I mention that this team loves being in cap hell? Because they do. The Saints fucking LOVE cap hell! Can’t get enough of it! When the Saints dine out at Commanders Palace, they demand to pay triple the cost of every entrée, and then they borrow money from a pawnbroker named Lonesome Fred to help foot the tab.
Instead of clear-cutting this roster to start fresh, New Orleans has opted instead to bleed out over the course of many painful seasons. It’s like deliberately giving yourself thyroid cancer. Some of your favorite guys are still here, like Marshon Lattimore and Demario Davis. But the thousand cuts elsewhere have just begun. The Saints lost stalwart tackle Terron Armstead to Miami, safety Marcus Williams to Baltimore, and linebacker Kwon Alexander to the Jets. Oh, and Malcolm Jenkins retired. So you’re gonna get a team that looks like the Payton/Brees Saints, only if it had been abducted by aliens and then sent back to Earth with new and concerning brain waves.
The good-but-ultimately-moot news is that New Orleans freshened up their receiving corps by adding a spent Jarvis Landry and drafting Ohio State wideout Chris Olave, the latter of whom was arguably the third best wideout on his own college team a year ago. To protect Aneis Daltston, they also drafted Richie Incognito cosplayer Trevor Penning with their other first rounder. Let’s find out more about Penning!
In a highlight package showing Penning’s blocking chops during the Senior Bowl, an analyst remarked that his peers “all wanted to fight him.”
Normally the cliché goes that you hate playing against a guy like Penning, but love having him on your team. But Penning is that rare player who engenders hatred not merely on the other side of the ball, but also everywhere else he goes. How much Jan. 6 footage does this fella splice into his game tape? ALL OF IT. Elsewhere, the Saints signed local legend Tyrann Mathieu, who is apparently tired of winning and ready to enter the pre-retirement phase of his storied career. I bet, after 2022, he bails on this organization much faster than Payton did.
Alvin Kamara got accused of a vicious assault, presumably to fill the void left by missing out on Watson. Their owner is selling the team upon her death and giving all of the money to charity specifically so that her step kids can’t have any of it.
What has always sucked: Kamara will never be a fun player again. Michael Thomas will never be healthy again. Drew Brees was even worse on television than Joe Montana. Every white person in New Orleans thinks Hurricane Katrina had a happy ending. That one fan who whistles all the time needs to be killed. Louisiana is a shithole with worse pollution than Beijing. Brian Kelly can’t dance. Fuck John Kennedy with the head of a dead Kennedy.
Ratto says: The end of the Sean Payton era, caused by burnout and the lure of a 200 percent pay raise to work in television, probably means the Saints are in for a period of leveling that already began in 2021 by the retirement of television icon Drew Brees. The backup kicker’s name is John Parker Romo, leading to some intriguing Ancestry.com sleuthing, and the team also has players named Taco, Easop, Shy, Smoke, and best of all, Sage Doxtater. This alone means one must root for new coach Dennis Allen to come across as less of a robot than he was pushing the Oakland Raiders up a muddy hill a decade ago.
What might not suck: As always, the Saints will have at least one inexplicable victory against Tampa this season. Not that it’ll be a watchable victory, but it’ll be a victory nonetheless.
HEAR IT FROM SAINTS FANS!
Gayle Benson looks like the final boss of Karens.
I saw what Dennis Allen did in Oakland. I know how fucked we are. I’m still gonna watch them anyway.
This is going to be fucking awful.
The back half of last season was so barren that by Thanksgiving Day I genuinely missed watching Jameis Winston play quarterback. Jameis is just Ben Roethlisberger without all the winning seasons.
It is a HUGE relief that the starting quarterback for the Saints is someone who hasn’t allegedly raped anyone in years, as opposed to someone who hasn’t allegedly raped anyone in nine months.
If that grumpy psychopath Sean Payton signs with another team and wins a Super Bowl, it will be absolutely imperative, for the sake of the nation if not the world, to nuke New Orleans from orbit. The sheer volume of bitching and moaning that would emanate from this sinking hellpit would extinguish species, alter tides and lead to devastation all along the entire Gulf Coast. Bountygate made me want to burn down my own home with me still in it. This would be orders upon orders of magnitude worse.
We’re the only team with a winning regular season record against Tom Brady and we can’t take advantage of it.
Taysom Hill is only consistent if he throws the ball to himself.
Honestly, the best thing for everyone would be if Drew Brees were discovered by hotel staff in a closet as a swaying cadaver above a puddle of piss and shit.
Alvin Kamara just got arrested for battery, so it sounds like our RBBC will consist of Mark Ingram and the ghost of Ty Montgomery’s Good Season.
I [cajun chef voice] GUAR-AN-TEE that if the presumptive starting QB of the Atlanta Falcons going into the season was Jameis Winston, every Saints fan would be rubbing their hands like that Birdman gif, just salivating for that first INT. We would have more fun making fun of the Falcons entrusting their team to Winston than we could ever possibly have if the Saints were to win with him.
Like any year, there’s a non-zero chance Alvin Kamara will be suspended for some infraction that straddles the line between ill-advised tomfoolery and shockingly brazen illegality, like DUI on an ATV or firing an AK-47 off the side of a pontoon boat.
Jameis Winston isn’t the answer and everyone who thinks he is has Stockholm Syndrome. And if we don’t absolutely suck somehow, everyone is gonna be annoying as hell about it.
We win a lot of games in the regular season only to shit the bed in the playoffs and proceed to piss everyone off along the way.
If you managed to combine the “aw shucks I just love the flag” incredulity of Brees and the Mormonism of Hill you’d have the perfect Republican congressman. If you stir in the “cops let him get away with rape” of Jameis, they’re ramming that dude onto the Supreme Court even if he’s not a lawyer.
I was in the press box for a Sunday Night Football game against the NY Giants. Archie and Olivia Manning were in attendance. Archie Manning told me I needed to eat more that night, leading me to refer to him as my nutritionist for the rest of my days on this planet.
In the latter part of the game, Aaron Brooks connected with Joe Horn for a TD. Horn infamously pulled a flip phone out of the foam of the goal post, presumably to call his Mom. Simultaneously, the sightlines in the Superdomeallowed those of us in the press box to see the replay in all its sordid glory. Seven seconds after that, my cell phone rang. My Dad, who loved to tell people his only daughter “worked for the Saints” (not quite; I worked for their flagship radio station), yelled into the phone, “What the HELL was that?”
To this day, that weird night in the dome, with its very strange series of events, serves as a metaphor for this fucking team. I’m sure Jameis will get decapitated in training camp. This is a subtle reminder that the stadium was built on an ancient burial ground and we all continue to pay the price with our tears and with Drew Brees’ post-retirement side hustles.
I grew up in New Orleans. When I was in first grade and only vaguely aware of professional sports my teacher, used to write either “Yay Saints! :)” or “Poor Saints :(” on the blackboard after their games. I don’t remember anyone in class talking about it ever. My teacher certainly never mentioned it. It was just there.
Now, many years removed from that, here we are. Brees’ prime was wasted on terrible defenses, and our good defenses were wasted on Brees’ final boring years. No more Grinch-faced Sean Payton calling excessively complicated plays to beat himself in 4D chess. I’ve thought about that blackboard a lot lately, and that’s pretty much how I want it to go from here on out. Just a “Poor Saints :(” in the corner of my brain on Sunday afternoon that I can ignore. Can’t wait. Poor Saints. They’re gonna suck.
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