New Era in New Orleans?

By: Ethan Labouisse

With Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, the New Orleans Saints fall to 1-4, and the uncertainty about the future of Tom Benson’s club grows.

Bleacher Report’s NFL Insider Jason Cole reports that the face of the franchise, Drew Brees, is now unlikely to receive another contract with the Saints after its expiration in 2016 because of the rotator cuff injury he suffered against the Buccaneers.

Sean Payton, reportedly a candidate of interest for head coach of the Colts and Dolphins, has a contract set to expire after the 2017 season. Who knows if arguably the brightest offensive mind in the league will be inclined to stick with a team largely devoid of offensive talent, with an aging, injured quarterback?

Rob Ryan’s job security is certainly in question, as the Saints’ defense continues to let fans down. Per Football Outsider’s Metrics, the Saints rank dead last in the league in defensive efficiency ratings and pass defense.

Additionally, GM Mickey Loomis has failed to do a good job of signing players and draft picks in recent years. Of the three massive contracts signed after the 2013 season (Jimmy Graham, Junior Galette, Jairus Byrd), 1 player is still in a Saints uniform, and has totaled 4 tackles all season. Factoring in a series of poor drafts, Loomis’s time with the Saints seems to be coming to a close.

Despite the looming changes, there are positives on the Saints roster and coaching staff that could point to success in the future. Former head coach and star defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is currently serving as the “Senior Defensive Assistant” of the team. He is an obvious candidate for Ryan’s replacement, and someone who can truly make use of the Saints talented secondary. Allen served as the Saints secondary coach during their Super Bowl Era, and was defensive coordinator of the Broncos during the 2011 season when the Broncos’ defense carried Tim Tebow and co. to a playoff victory against the Steelers.

Offensively, the Saints have found a franchise left tackle in third year man Terron Armstead. The 6′ 5″, 305 pound former track and field star out of Arkansas Pine Bluff is notorious for being the fastest offensive lineman in combine history (4.71 40 yard dash), and he is finally putting these physical talents to use. Pro Football Focus rates him the top offensive tackle in the league through the first 4 weeks of the season (he was hurt and did not play week 5).  Fletcher Cox’s dominant week 5 performance against backup first round tackle and Armstead’s replacement Andrus Peat is indicative of Armstead’s importance to the team.

On the other side of the ball, the Saints finally seem to have one big contract work out for them with DE Cameron Jordan. After making the Pro Bowl as an interior defensive lineman, the Saints switched his position to a 4-3 end, and he currently ranks as the 7th best edge defender in the league, per Pro Football Focus’s metrics. This is a jack-of-all-trades player, and should be a stalwart of New Orleans’ defensive line for years to come.

Armstead, Jordan, and others will be relied upon to lead the Saints offense and defense through these times of change and turmoil, and ultimately attempt to guide the franchise back to the success it had in the prime of the Brees-Payton Era.

Cover ImageL New Orleans Saints’ Marcus Murphy is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles’ Chris Maragos during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)