New Orleans Saints GM Mickey Loomis finally returns from his suspension Week 9. Although he's been away, it's likely he's seen the horrendous state of his team's defense, which means he must immediately seek help for the Saints' struggling unit.
No one gives up more yards on the ground than New Orleans does, and only a couple give up more per game through the air.
That's not a good combination, and it has also led to QB Drew Brees having to throw the ball a staggering amount of times just to keep his team within striking distance.
It was actually Loomis himself who got the team into this mess. No, the mess referenced here isn't the Bountygate scandal, but rather the repulsive nature of the Saints D.
Free safety Malcolm Jenkins was a first-round pick, but has struggled after moving to the position from cornerback. He had a good year in 2010, but has fallen off the past two seasons. Starting cornerback Patrick Robinson also went in the first round of the draft.
The loss of emotional leader Jonathan Vilma in the heart of the defense was thought to have been replaced by former Atlanta Falcon Curtis Lofton. For whatever reason, that hasn't been the case.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, best known for calling the shots for the New York Giants' improbable Super Bowl victory in 2007, has suddenly seemed to lose the touch. Either that, or his scheme simply isn't translating to the personnel on the field.
It has to be a bit of both of those, which Loomis deserves at least some blame for. With Brees continuing to light up the scoreboard, it's obvious what has prevented the Saints from being a Super Bowl contender in 2012.
Focusing on getting head coach Sean Payton back will likely be the main focus, but it shouldn't be.
ESPN's Linda Cohn makes a keen observation about the state of the current New Orleans team:
— Linda Cohn (@lindacohn) November 5, 2012
Payton has made it clear that he wants to come back to the Saints' organization, so if that's really indeed the case, Loomis will have no problem bringing him back in 2013. A report by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio indicates that the Saints are extremely adamant that Payton will return.
The offense has proven that it can be a well-oiled machine even through injuries—and without Payton's play-calling prowess.
That means that Loomis has to place priority on reassembling the defense to fit the scheme the coaching staff is looking for. The trade deadline may have passed, but Loomis must begin looking ahead to the draft or sifting through the waiver wire to help the league's most embattled defense.