Why Your Team Sucks 2023: New Orleans Saints
11:57 AM EDT on August 7, 2023
Some people are fans of the New Orleans Saints. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the New Orleans Saints. This 2023 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: New Orleans Saints.
Your 2022 record: 7-10. Every NFC South team had a chance—many chances, in fact—to edge out Tampa Bay for the division and give Tom Brady the walk-of-shame final season that he deserved. All of them failed, and this is the third one in a row that I've had to preview. God, I hate my life. This division is the ACC of the NFL. All of its games are spiritually called by Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham. Drew Brees was its most engaging personality for a decade. Shove a radio antennae up my peener and break it in half.
The Saints had the second worst turnover differential in the league a season ago. They lost to Minnesota in London on a doinked field goal. They suffered their first shutout since 2001 at the hands of San Francisco (their leading rusher in that loss was Andy Dalton). The Panthers ended a nine-game losing streak by beating them in what history has already declared to be The Laviska Shenault Game. They blew a 23-14 second-half lead to the Bengals and then lost. Feels like old times doesn’t it, Saints fans? So familiar. So comfortable. Like tucking your feet into a nice, warm po’boy.
And do you remember when Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and his coach Kliff Kingsbury got into a bigass sideline donnybrook last season? Fun fact: that game was against the Saints, and the Saints lost. In fact, Arizona got two pick-sixes in the final two minutes of the first half that day. Then the Saints blew a chance to tie for the division lead when they lost to Baltimore in a game remembered primarily for a pass that Lamar Jackson didn’t even complete. Then they sank to 4-9 in a rematch with the Bucs where they blew a 13-point lead with just three minutes left, with Brady staging touchdown drives of 91 and 63 yards in that minuscule timeframe. Brown paper bag sales grew robust.
But after helping the Catholic Church mop all the semen out of yet another rectory office, our lord Geuaxd saw fit to bless New Orleans with a late three-game win streak, which gave them an outside shot at the playoffs and a chance for announcers to cry out, NEW ORLEANS IS BACK for the 56,000th time since Katrina. This is what happened instead:
Thanks to a Green Bay victory over Minnesota the week prior, the Saints were already eliminated from the playoffs by the time this final game kicked off. But it’s worth noting that they had a chance to close out their season admirably by beating a dead-in-the-water Carolina team, and still couldn’t do it. For their part, the Panthers were playing to save Steve Wilks’s job, won the game, and Wilks got fired anyway. That’s the NFC South, and these are your Saints. I yearn for the darkness.
Your coach: Still Dennis Allen, because being good for so many years apparently made owner Gayle Benson tired. Hard to keep up appearances when you’re so old and frail and awful. So Allen remains, although former co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen lit out for the greener pastures of … Atlanta? Meanwhile, his co-DC Kris Richard was fired outright. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael is still around to tell players, This is how Sean would’ve done it, before they go three-and-out again. But this time, Carmichael has been given a slippery ace to keep in his back pocket:
Can we define “success” in this circumstance? Because my idea of success usually includes, you know, winning stuff. Have the Saints not enabled enough horrible people already? Jesus Christ.
Oh, and speaking of Christ …
Your quarterback: Yes, it’s Derek Carr. Every team in the South needed a QB this offseason and only one, Carolina, was serious about doing something about it. By contrast, the Saints just threw away vital cap space—GM Mickey Loomis’s specialty—for a guy who’s looked washed up every other week for the past six years. Derek Carr was PFF’s 23rd ranked QB a season ago, behind the likes of Sam Darnold, Jacoby Brissett, Daniel Jones, and his predecessor, Andy Dalton. He has more tearful postgame breakdowns than he has career touchdown passes. His favorite new teammate is the guy everyone else on the Saints despises. He has a career playoff record of 0-1. He blows leads so enthusiastically that winning seems to go against his religious beliefs. And what, I’m supposed to think that buttertub Gruden, working on a $600 freelance contract, is gonna abracadabra this this guy into a winner in his 10th season? I’ve seen amputees tread water more gracefully.
Behind Carr remains Jameis Winston. And hey, at least Jameis won’t get the He’s grown into a respected veteran mentor! narrative anymore, like he puts on a pair of reading glasses and a houndstooth blazer with patches on the elbows before heading out to steal a bunch of cocktail shrimp. Jameis is garbage time made flesh. Backing up Derek Carr was always his destiny.
Behind Jameis is some other Fresno State loser.
What’s new that sucks: The most significant move New Orleans made this offseason was to snatch a first- and a second-rounder from Denver for the rights to Sean Payton. Will it be hard for Saints fans to watch the best coach in their team’s history ply his trade in another city while they go 7-10 again? Oh don’t worry, they’ll tell you all about it. GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO I COULD KILL MISS GAYLE FOR LETTING OUR SEAN GO; ME AND MY MAWMAW CRIED DURING SECOND BRUNCH WHEN WE HEARD THE NEWS; I’D LIKE ROGER GOODELL TO MEET MY PET ALLIGATOR SLIM, I BET HE’D REGRET DOING US DIRTY WITH BOUNTYGATE IF HE DID; I CAN’T STOP EATING WHILE I MASTURBATE HELP ME GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO.
Meanwhile, their own team has regressed back to the mean and, given the Carr signing, is content to stay there for quite a while. Here to help the Saints blow another shot at the most winnable division in world history is a collection of minor free agents, including RB Jamaal Williams, G Trai Turner, WR Bryan Edwards, DTs Khalen Saunders, and Nathan Shepherd, and a handful of depth guys in the secondary. This group, even with first-round DT Bryan Bresee in the fold, is unlikely to offset all of the Saints’ free agent losses, particularly rushers Marcus Davenport and Kentavius Street. Everything about this season will rest on Carr returning to Pro-Bowl alternate form by hucking the ball downfield to Chris Olave (who is awesome), Michael Thomas (who is beyond washed up), and newly extended TE Juwan Johnson (he’s on my fantasy radar!), which is asking a lot given that the Saints’ offensive line is more permeable than a daily contact lens.
Elsewhere, RB Alvin Kamara is still on the roster primarily of remind you of the good old days. But Kamara couldn’t even do that without Ray Ricing some poor bastard in a Vegas hotel and getting suspended for three games for it. Kamara settled that case for $100,000, which is a bargain given how many blows he landed. Maybe Kamara should be in charge of managing this team’s cap and not Loomis.
Why the players think you suck: An F- for food! In New Orleans! How?...
The most common concern for Saints players is the cafeteria, as they are only one of three teams in the NFL that do not provide three meals per day to their players, and the food is rated as the fourth worst in the NFL.
Imagine playing in New Orleans, which has the richest and most diverse food scene in the entire nation, and being served Rhode Island Clam Gumbo for lunch every day after practice.
What has always sucked: Under Brees and Payton, New Orleans was good enough, and for long enough, that America may have forgotten that this, right now, is the Saints' usual resting state. I didn’t forget. I remember the days of John Fourcade, and Bobby Hebert, and Mike Ditka singing, “Goin’ golfing!” after wasting an entire draft. All of that is coming back, and fast. No levee, certainly none that you currently possess, will be able to keep it away.
You guys are in a mid-off with the rest of the South right now, but eventually those other teams will get their shit together and you won’t. You’ll lapse into evergreen mediocrity, and soon the only people who’ll go to the Superdome to watch the Saints play will be the familiar assortment of wisdom-free old people, incoherent drunks, marching band rejects, and unimaginative tourists. They’ll pay attention to roughly six plays per game, adopt a turnover-prone QB named Billy Joe as their own, boast about how many good players they have on a 16th-ranked defense, and whine about the refs despite losing 30-10. If they ever make the playoffs, it’ll be a cute novelty that lasts for a single weekend and no longer. I remember those Saints, and so will you.
I’d like to think that this extended reversion to the Jim Mora days will get Saints fans to, at long last, shut the fuck up. But who am I kidding? You people are louder than a fart in a cemetery, and always will be.
Beignets are just donuts. Chill the fuck out.
Ratto says: The best thing about the Saints is that they'll get to host the 2025 Super Bowl, which runs in juxtaposition with the fact that that's all they'll do with it. This is New Orleans’ true legacy: a great place to visit and a great place to leave. They had to take their practices indoors because the planet has been colonized by Hell, and they signed an offensive lineman named Tommy Kraemer, which sounds like the old Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer, which reminds us that the current Saints quarterback is Derek Carr, who provided the first four of head coach Dennis Allen's 38 career losses. Life is a circle, and so is the direction of the water as it heads down your drain.
What might not suck: Roster-wise, this is the best team in the division. That’s a low bar, but not as low as the one I have for Louisianans in general.
HEAR IT FROM SAINTS FANS!
The people of Louisiana have basically moved on to cheering for teams with former LSU players.
At least I don't have to pretend to like Sean Payton anymore.
For all the talk about not paying running backs and smart teams hoarding draft picks, I'm proud to be a fan of the team that has never once done a fiscally smart or analytical savvy thing. Give Taysom $100 mil and let Kamara be the mayor! Who cares!
With all the shit that this team went through with quarterbacks last year, there’s no way they would go get a second-rate QB and give him a stupid amount of guaranteed money, would they? That would be fucking stupid, right?
Derek Carr? Fucking seriously? That’s the best we can do?
The Saints went 7-10 last year, and their response this season is to try to re-assemble the Jon Gruden 2.0 Raiders, whose pinnacle was an 8-8 season in 2020. This is some dark shit.
I hate how this team will simply not move on. Every year, they give me some kind of hope during the offseason. This year it's Derek Carr, who will throw exactly one pass to Michael Thomas before Thomas's chin explodes and he misses the entirety of the season.
I've been watching the Saints since I was in college near NOLA in the 90s. The worst version of the team back then featured Ditka as head coach, and I could get free tickets if I were willing to drive there. The Bensons were trying to sell the team before they stumbled into the Payton/Katrina/Brees combo that revived the franchise. That team truly gave us hope that NOLA could come back after Katrina.
Fast forward: I have spent the last five years waiting for a rebuild that has never come. I give it five more years before the Benson kids hire hitmen to take each other out and then try to sell the team again.
This team will be lucky to go 7-10, and the worst part is that that might still be good enough for a playoff berth in this fever blister of a division. Can't wait!
Last year I decided to try to quit the Saints, one of my only remaining connections to New Orleans. It pretty much worked. I only watched a few games. I didn’t even watch the Falcons games. I’m just going to assume that everyone played well, had a fun time, didn’t drunkenly beat anyone up in a hotel elevator, and that the real Super Bowl was the friendships they made along the way.
All that being said, I have run into *so many* Raiders fans recently (who knew there were this many? I don’t live anywhere near Raiders country) and they are all SUPER excited for me and to see the Saints rip shit up with Derek Carr this year. It’s really weird, but it’s fucking working. I think I’m back in after a year of having Sundays free to do literally anything besides drink beer and sulk in front of the TV for four hours.
How did this happen, you ask? Why the hell am I listening to Raiders fans? Because I, a Saints fan, am objectively stupid.
The percentage of Saints fans who are absolutely convinced that Roger Goodell is personally involved in a conspiracy to get the league and the refs to fuck us over has gotta be about 95%. More prevalent here than fatty liver disease. After a Saints loss #NOLATwitter goes DEEP into Pepe Silvio territory. It's deranged. Roger Goodell doesn't give a fuck about the Saints. NO ONE north of I-12 gives a fuck about the Saints. America is as invested in the Saints as it is at preventing climate catastrophes. I'll see you all at the bottom of the rising seas and I welcome that warm, salty death.
My family planned a "fun" gathering to catch the Saints vs. Bengals game last year. At the time, the Saints seemed to be on the edge of putting something together. Just one more win in the shitty NFC South and we were looking at a first round playoff exit, baby. Plus, it would have been a homecoming of sorts for ole Burrow and Chase. I also thought it would be a good idea to invite my good friend, a Bengals fan, thinking the Saints had a shot of winning. The game was going great at first, and my buddy was taking all the trash talk in stride.
Of course, the Saints lose, and I'm stuck with my friend talking massive shit, high fiving the seemingly endless number of Burrow and Chase stans downstairs and in the walkways yelling "Who Dey".
Thinking some fresh air would make things better, I was let down once again by New Orleans. It was pouring ass rain as we arrived outside.
Why I am still a fan of this team, I have no idea. The amount of times I've said to friends this summer, "The last time we got an AFC West QB who had ups and downs, it turned out pretty good for us didn't it hur hur hur?!" makes me sick to my stomach. Because I know damn well that this eyeliner goober churchboy's best days were in 2016. Our coach is a wet blanket who thinks AK up the gut for two yards is innovative play calling and we know damn well we'll finish the year at 7-10 again in spite of being in the weakest division in football. Our vaunted (read: third tier at best) defense will inexplicably give up 350 yards passing to the Panthers. Our owner likely still has a Catholic Church super PAC. I could go on.
I will watch every game, my wife will leave after the first drive (missed field goal?), and my son will want to wear his Kamara jersey (lul). If there was a silver lining of Diggs sideline, touchdown (fuck you Drew, there wasn't) it was seeing my friend shred his Vegas bet slip and throw the pieces into the air.
It was goddamn PI.
Despite the NFC championship no call being closer to the Brazil World Cup than today, I still believe we're a tweak or two from winning the conference.
Fuck Sean Payton for not drafting Mahomes.
This is going to be my favorite Saints season in a long time. Not because I think we will be good or I’m excited for a Chris Olave breakout season. No, it will be my favorite because the Saints have settled back into middle of the road irrelevance. No more noodle-armed Drew Brees buttering us up with regular seasons juiced with Sean Payton offensive mojo. No more sense of the mystery that comes with a QB who might be good. Just a season of semi-competence, possibly beating the Falcons and Bucs, and 7th string Fox and CBS announcing crews. Feels like the before Brees times. Low expectations, a handful of fun players, and nothing to get too excited about.
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