Where do the Saints go after the 2023 season?

Just five months ago, NFL commentators and prognosticators thought this was the year the New Orleans Saints would return to the upper echelon of the league’s teams.

Obviously, that is not the case.

As of early December, the Saints had played 12 of the season’s 17 games. Their record was 5-7, placing them in third place in the NFC South.

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Through those 12 games, the Saints ranked 11th in total offense (348.3 yards per game), 10th in passing yards per game (243.2) and 19th in points per game (21.4) and rushing yards per game (105.1). Most alarmingly, however, was the unit’s Red Zone efficiency. Of the 44 times the offense made it within 20 yards of the endzone, they only scored 21 touchdowns (48%).

While the offense struggled to put points on the board, the defense took a step back from previous years’ performances. Through 12 games, the Saints were 15th in total defense (322.5 yards per game), 16th in points per game (21.2), 24th in rushing yards per game (125.5) and 7th in passing yards per game (197.0).

So what went wrong? A multitude of things that would take way more than this column space to fully explore.

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Where the offensive line was a foundational strength during the Sean Payton era, it hasn’t been the same force since he left. The O Line hasn’t been able to give proper protection on passing plays nor open the holes needed to effectively use the run game.

Be it seemingly constant pressure from opposing defenses or an overestimation of his skill set, Carr seemed to rarely find himself in a comfortable position as the team’s field general. That seemed to prevent him from establishing the needed connection with skill players, especially wide receivers Michael Thomas, Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed. While he missed the first three games of the season due to suspension, running back Alvin Kamara as well as utility player Taysom Hill again proved to be the team’s best playmakers. Unfortunately, their contributions haven’t been enough to carry the team.

At the beginning of the season, it appeared that losing three quarters of the team’s defensive line would not be too much of an issue to overcome. However, with the exception of 2023 first-round pick DT Bryan Bresee, the loss of end Marcus Davenport, who signed with the Vikings; tackle David Onyemata, who joined the Falcons; and tackle Shy Tuttle, who moved to the Panthers; has seemingly been too much to overcome up front. That put a lot of pressure on the linebackers and secondary, and too often, opposing offenses — especially those with a quarterback who can run — slashed the D at inopportune times, enabling opponents to extend drives and wear down potential opposition.

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Before the midpoint of the season, Saints fans expressed their frustration with general manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Dennis Allen, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and quarterback Derek Carr. That only grew as the season progressed and the team stayed mired in mediocrity. One fan even went as far as to purchase, print and give away 500 T-shirts emblazoned with “Fire Dennis Allen” before the Dec. 10 contest against the Panthers at the Superdome.

Saints owner Gayle Benson and team president Dennis Lauscha have a lot to consider as they review the 2023 season and prepare for the future. Lauscha, who served as Tom Benson’s right-hand man, has shared his management principles and philosophies on attracting and keeping fans previously. He says that the most important thing is that tickets are correctly priced. Second, fans have to feel the team is headed in the right direction as an organization, on and off the field. Third, fans have to like the team’s players, coaches and ownership.

Ticket pricing and ownership may be the only things going well for the organization right now. Folks are upset with the performance of the team, the play-calling on offense and the play at quarterback. Already, Saints fans are selling their tickets (often to opposing fans) in the secondary market. With Carr’s contract, the team may be stuck with him for another season or two. That leaves changes on the coaching staff. This organization’s leadership is known for its loyalty. It’s time for it to show some to the fans before the ambivalence and apathy that plagued the team in the early decades of the franchise’s history become the norm in New Orleans again.

Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football.


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