Is It Time For The Saints to Move On?
In 2006, the Saints made a splash by hiring Sean Payton as their head coach and signing free agent quarterback Drew Brees. That pairing has won a lot of games, a Super Bowl and brought hope back to a fledgling franchise. The things that pair have accomplished are nothing short of amazing and historic.
However, with all that said, is it time to end the era and move on? Look, I know it sucks. Drew Brees is a first ballot hall of famer. Sean Payton is one of the best offensive minds in the NFL. However, despite all the talent and brilliance, the Saints have not been able to hit that next level in a long time. They won the Super Bowl in 2010...but since then, not much.
Look, I get it...the Saints have had some great season records. Since the 2009 season, the Saints have had a bunch of 13 win seasons, some division championships...but little to no success in the post season. I understand that it's hard to fire a guy that has brought prestige to a franchise. But the Saints aren't the only team that's ever been in this position.
In 2007, the Baltimore Ravens fired Brian Billick despite the fact he only had 2 losing seasons during his tenure as Ravens head coach. The front office could see that they needed a new coach to re-motivate a talented team. It worked. The Packers fired Mike McCarthy despite his run of success. The Packers are back, and arguably, the best they've been in some time. On the flip side of that coin, the Bears held onto Mike Ditka for way too long after he won them a Super Bowl...and the team still hasn't quite recovered. Some times, you have to make a hard choice to let go of a proven commodity to get your team to reach their potential.
And that doesn't go for just coaches, it goes for players too. Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Peyton Manning, Joe Namath, Brett Favre and countless other once in a life time talents have been dropped so the team could grow and move into the future. Believe me, it sucks. I never wanted to see Brett in anything but a Packers uniform...but that's the nature of the game and long term what was best for the Packers. And that's the position where the Saints are currently.
Brees is about to turn 41. His arm is lacking the pop and promise it used to have. He can still be successful in the league...just not in a wide open offense. The Saints have a super talented, young team. They need a new face of the franchise to lead them forward.
I know letting Brees go is going to hurt, but sometimes you need to rip that band-aid off before it is too late. The Saints' window of success is closing every season, they're going to lose a lot of talent due to budget constraints in the next few seasons. If they don't make some drastic changes soon, they're going to lose it all and be stuck in a long term rebuild.
I know New Orleans loves Payton and Brees. As they should. But if the Saints don't end this era soon and move into the next, the Saints very well could become the new age Bills. A franchise that held on too tightly to stars and coaches and in the end damaged the team's success for well over a decade.
Any and every breakup sucks short term...but 99% of the time, it works out for the best.