Sean Payton Is The Smartest, But Not The Best Coach In Saints History

Paul DavisCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2008

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton just recently signed a new 5 year contract that makes him one of the top 5 highest paid coaches in the NFL.  It was a deal that needed to be made at some point, rather happy that it was done now and not later.  Payton is, without question, the smartest coach the team has ever had.  He looks wise after leading the team to its first division title in 6 years (2006) and sent the Saints to their first NFC Championship game.  He is not; however, the best coach in Saints history as of yet.


Jim Mora (head coach, 1986-1996) was the first coach who lead the Saints to a winning record, 12-3 in 1987, as well as their first playoff appearance (44-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the Superdome).  Mora is the only coach in Saints history to post consecutive winning seasons, 1987 to 1989 and 1991 to 1992. 


Mora never won less than 8 games from 1987-1993, the only stretch in the team’s 40 plus years in existence that it did not have a losing record.  He is the only coach team history to take the Saints to consecutive playoff appearances, from 1990 to 1992.  Mora coached the Saints to the playoffs 4 times in 6 years and earned the franchise's first division title in 1991.


Granted the argument could be made that Mora never won a playoff game in his entire coaching career.  But he was winning games with great defenses and timely offense.  And of course, things began to sour between Mora and the team during 1993 season with the team finishing 8-8 after a 5-0 start.  It would be the last time the team would be at .500 under his tenure.


Mora lasted almost 10 seasons as head coach of the Saints, compiling a 93-71 record (0-4 in the playoffs) and one division title.  He is the first and only head coach to last more than 5 seasons as coach of the team.  Payton currently only has a 19-18 record (1-1 in the playoffs), only one winning season in two years, and only one playoff appearance.  When he can continually prove both on the field and in the standings that the Saints are a dominate and true contender like Mora did, then Payton will eventually replace Mora as the best coach the Saints have ever had.