When NFL Commissioner handed down the penalties to the New Orleans Saints bounty gate, it was like a 30-year prison sentence to a guy who committed computer fraud. A lot of teams in the NFL might have a bounty system, but there was one team that needed to be made an example of. The list of penalties is longer than my...well put it this way it's pretty long.
The Saints lost their risk taking offensive genius leader head coach Sean Payton for a year. Your assistant coach Joe Vitt will face a six-game suspension, your general manager Mickey Loomis will also face an eight-game ban. You get fined $500,000 and lose second-round picks for this year and 2013 not to mention you still have 22 of 27 players on defense who still might face suspensions.
However bad the situation looks for this team, the New Orleans Saints have proved time and time again that if you get knocked down you just get up again. This team, this city, prides itself on resiliency and never backing down. When one man falls another man rises and reason No. 1 the Saints will still shine is because of the experience in their coaching staff.
Whoever takes the reigns of head coach and replaces Sean Payton, you can bet that the Saints just might promote from within. Those of you who want Bill Parcells, I just don't think it will happen. Parcells might be a great leader and Payton's mentor, but his ship has sailed. Parcells is 70 years old and if he takes the job then he will have to wait to 2018 to become eligible for the NFL Hall of Fame as there is a five-year waiting period following the end of your coaching career. Parcells also does not know just how many defensive players will be suspended yet for the Saints.
Moreover, Parcells is a great coach, but you want a coach who has been with this team through thick and thin and that is where the duo of Saints offensive coordinator Peter Carmichael and Saints O-line coach Aaron Kromer come in.
I feel though newly hired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has some former head coaching experience with the St. Louis Rams that Spagnuolo will stick to what he knows best and run the defense. Now, Peter Carmichael has actually been with Drew Brees longer than Payton as Carmichael started working with Drew Brees during their San Diego Charger days back in 2002 as an offensive assistant and then stuck with Brees every year since then as Carmichael was promoted to offensive coordinator of the Saints in 2009.
Carmichael actually led the play-calling when Payton went down with the torn MCL, still managing to win the NFC South and making it to the divisional round in the playoffs before losing to the San Francisco. It is only logical that Carmichael might be given another temporary promotion to head coach. On the other hand, Aaron Kromer could be considered as he has been with the team since 2008 but seems to be limited to just a position coach but might take on a bigger role if Carmichael becomes the interim head coach.
While the coaching staff is set, keep in mind we are only in April and the last time I checked the season starts in September and time to prepare and add some cognitive pieces are more reasons you can bet this team will be well prepared for just what coaches will be assigned to what positions and what players the Saints will be looking for to pick up in the draft.
Meanwhile, the coaches will have plenty of time to scheme. The Saints might have lost guard two time Pro-Bowler Carl Nicks to free agency but they were able to grab one of the best free agent guard's available in Pro-Bowler Ben Grubbs to protect Drew Brees.
On the defensive side of the ball the Saints got a huge upgrade in linebacker Curtis Lofton who had 147 tackles in 2011 and will be needed greatly in case current Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma will miss some time because of his $10,000 bounty to teammates if they injured Brett Favre way back in the 2010 NFC Championship game.
Another reason this Saints team will dominant its opponents is because this pass-heavy Saints offense just happens to be led by Future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees who put put up an NFL record 5,476 passing yards and oh by the way recorded a career high 46 touchdown passes last year. Brees is a surgeon out on the field and has a variety of big, small, fast and possessive targets he can throw to.
His possession receiver Marques Colston who has averaged 1,000 yards receiving and eight TD’s a year in each of his six NFL seasons, re-signed at the start of free agency. They have Pro-Bowl Tight End Jimmy Graham who is not only the best tight end in the NFC, but happens to be the first tight end in Saints history to record more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
Last time I checked, Lance Moore is still a great slot receiving Wes Welker type in the middle. Also, the Saints still have a deep threat in Devery Henderson. They lost Robert Meachem to free agency but still have the ever so dangerous running and receiving threat of running back Darren Sproles, who not only led the Saints in rushing but was also second on the team in receptions last season with 86 just behind Jimmy Graham. Add in the other rushing threats of Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram and you still have a dominating offense that will outscore its opponents a good majority of the time.
The No. 4 reason the Saints will shine is you have the ultimate motivator in Drew Brees who not only won a Super Bowl for this team in 2009, but he also had led the team to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons and is the leader of this team and knows how to run Sean Payton’s offense as he has run this same offense the last six years under Sean Payton.
Former Washington Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot said he thinks the Saints can persevere, “But they have a coach on the field in Drew Brees. To me, they go hand in hand, Sean Payton and Drew Brees. I think their offense will be able to keep up the same pace. From the standpoint of the whole team, they’ll be able to band together. As football players, we’re always looking for things to bring us together. I’m looking for them to have that whole us-against-the-world mentality.” Quote from Mark Maskey
Drew Brees invented the, "Who Dat," chant so I'm really not worried about the Saints not lacking any leadership even without Sean Payton on that sideline.
The last but not least reason the Saints will shine without Sean Payton is because of the pride of the city New Orleans will certainly help this team overcome massive obstacles. You might have had Hurricane Katrina hurt the spirit of this city, but they are resilient as ever and will not allow this team to quit and rollover playing dead waiting for their coach.
The city of New Orleans will always triumph over adversity and bounty gate, and the loss of Sean Payton is just a minor speed bump on the Saints march to another Super Bowl in 2013.