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NFL Draft

Saints Will Have Successful 2021 Season If…

  • The Draft Network
  • July 2, 2021
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The New Orleans Saints have been a powerhouse organization in the NFL since their Super Bowl win in 2009. They had a steak where they missed the playoffs three years in a row between 2014 and 2016 (7-9 all three seasons), but outside of that, they have six division titles in that time and seven playoff appearances.

The Saints have won the last four NFC South division titles. For the last four years, quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton were seen as one of the top QB-HC duos in the NFL no matter the time, place, or competition. But it never led to another Super Bowl for them after that special season in 2009.

Now Brees is gone; retiring this offseason after 20 seasons in the NFL, 15 with the Saints. With Brees off the roster, it puts the Saints in a tricky spot for expectations this season. For 15 years we’ve known nothing but Brees as the quarterback for the Saints, so it’s fair to say no one knows what to expect with a different starter behind center. With unknowns at quarterback come unknowns for expectations.

The Saints still have one of the strongest rosters in the NFL. They have one of the best offensive lines you’ll find, one of the best offensive weapons in the backfield in Alvin Kamara, a reliable receiver in Michael Thomas, and a hungry defense with playmakers throughout. But even without Brees, this team has to be thinking about a deep playoff run. I’m not so sure that’s in the cards.

The goal for this season for New Orleans is simply to establish a vision at quarterback. What they want to achieve this year and beyond depends on it. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who didn’t even win the division last year yet went on to win the Super Bowl, are now the favorites in the NFC South. After nearly half a decade of having a stranglehold on the top of that division, the Saints are poised for some regression. New Orleans will likely be in the conversation for a wild-card spot this upcoming season, but it all depends on what happens at quarterback.

Right now, they have Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill as their starting quarterback options. Hill has been a gadget kind of quarterback who isn’t your traditional drop-back passer—more of a versatile X-factor weapon with his legs—but Payton has shown that he is not afraid to start Hill at quarterback. Winston led the NFL in passing years two years ago, but his inability to keep interceptions down led to him being replaced in Tampa Bay and joining New Orleans a year ago.

Winston and Hill are two completely different players, which is why the top goal this season has to be getting a definitive answer at what they want to do at quarterback. Heck, it might not even be one of these two. I would even tell you a successful season for the Saints would be having an answer at quarterback—that neither of those two can cut it—even if it means the team has a down year while forming a plan to get it right for the following season.

Off talent alone, the Saints should be a playoff team, but how legit of a run will they have once they get to the postseason? Depending on the matchup, I think it’s one win max for them. However, if they can establish themselves at the quarterback position, that’s not just a win this year, but it might be something that can save this winning window from closing shut and forcing a massive rebuild in the aftermath of Brees’ departure.

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