Suspensions and litigations have consumed the Saints, and not many thought the Saints could repeat another almost-flawless 13-3 season, but at the same time, no one saw an 0-3 start coming. It's a long season, and there's plenty of time left to fix things, but 0-3 will be quite the uphill battle.
The "Bountygate" and its suspensions hovers over the New Orleans Saints like dark clouds and dark times hover over the Superdome.
What if coach Payton wasn't suspended?
In a previous article, I stated how much Sean Payton has turned the team around and made them a winning franchise. But, would Payton's presence this season have changed the outcome of the first three games for the Saints?
It's difficult to point the blame on just one thing. But it's hard not to think there isn't any correlation between a winless and sloppy start with Payton's absence.
Yes, there have been various variables on the field that Payton could not have changed if he were there: An inconsistent offensive line, injuries to the wide receiver corp, Drew Brees not playing like himself, a bad defense (one that blew an 18-point lead).
What the Saints are missing, though, are his leadership, his passion, his offensive game-planning genius and his ability to make in-game adjustments—something he would have done had he been on the sidelines watching the Chiefs chip away at the Saints' lead.
What record would the Saints have if Sean Payton were around?
Oh—and if he weren't suspended, that would be one less distraction for the Saints, one less excuse to let up because "coach Payton isn't here." Those intangibles that Payton brings to the table are what makes the difference between winning games and starting 0-3.
In the end, it shouldn't be about excuses. Sean Payton isn't there and won't be there for the remainder of the season. The Saints must move on and set out to do what Sean Payton's banner, the one that hangs over the Saints' practice facility, asks of them: Do their job.
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