Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/9/12

Who knew? Very often, player performances power the attention of the most average fan. Coaches receive much less of the attention outside of the leaders with tenure, great winning records and rings.

Admit it! How many coaches can you name in the league without using a search engine? With this reasoning, who believed it would still be business as usual with the New Orleans Saints this season?

Drew Brees was not suspended, right? He is the guy who has powered that Saints offense to big numbers, big games and Super Bowl fame. New Orleans is leaning on a bunch of no-names on the defensive end, especially with Jonathan Vilma on the shelf, but does it truly matter? Brees will outscore every team they play.

It is apparent. We are not who we thought we were, because after a 1-4 start (they lost their first four games); the winning expectations for the boys in the bayou are out the window. Maybe we are not as smart as former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. It was he that we heard from an audio recording during the pregame of their playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, saying [and, I am paraphrasing] if you cut off the head, the rest will follow.

For the sake of morale, the Saints record and struggle could fall prey to misinterpretation. The team’s four losses came by a combined 20 points with a one-point loss and a three-point overtime loss to the Packers and Chiefs, respectively. Furthermore, Brees leads the league in passing, set the touchdown record for passes in consecutive games and his offense is in the top-10 in the NFL.

There is no doubt. Bountygate destroyed the Saints season. More of a factor than any other is what it means to lose one of the best offensive minds and head coaches in the game. It is unquestionable what he established with the New Orleans team. His absence was glaring during the Saints’ first two games as the team lacked rhythm and seemed to struggle during crucial moments when the coach’s decisions are most influential.

Moreover, despite the allegations against him also, the absence of Gregg Williams – in conjunction with Payton watching games from the living room couch – has been severely damaging. The Saints total defense is one of the four worse units in The League.

The loss of Vilma is a factor, but much less in comparison with the loss of Williams. Payton and Williams together created a level of competition amongst the offense and defense during practices that raised the team’s level of preparation for game play.

It is far too difficult to clarify every factor plaguing the Saints’ struggles; at the very top of the list is losing their head coach for a season and their defensive coordinator permanently. Can they overcome their horrible start to make a bid for the playoffs?

They have a rough schedule for the duration of the season. With a struggling defense and busted secondary, facing the Broncos, Eagles, Falcons (twice), Giants, 49ers and Cowboys is a tall task. The fight of the New Orleans team cannot be questioned. Their playoff run can.



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