Reporting from Saturday night’s preseason game between the Saints and Texans, Peter King explained that training camp for post-Sean Payton New Orleans is “business as usual” under Payton’s successor, Dennis Allen.
The atmosphere underscores the fact that, but for Payton’s departure, everything else is pretty much the same for the Saints. The players haven’t changed dramatically from last year’s roster. The coaching staff is essentially identical, with Allen stepping up to the plate — as he did on Sunday night last season when Payton tested positive for COVID and the Bucs were held to zero points.
But here’s the real question for the 2022 Saints, one that won’t even begin to be answered until the regular season begins.
That’s when someone will have to fill the void of Payton’s manic attempt to game plan for each opponent, scouring film from the other team on the schedule and processing ideas based on film from elsewhere in the league in search of constant for the right game to be. is placed at the right time to make the right change. It requires a huge time commitment. It is a search for a needle in a haystack when the haystack may not even have a needle in it. You have to work hard and work smart. You have to give up sleep. You have to focus. You have to get hooked.
Payton led by example for years. Who will slide into that role? Allen is a defensive guy and he will have his hands full leading that side of the ball (something he has done extremely well over the last few years). It will likely fall largely on offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael to do the things Payton did in order to fix the offense and navigate it through the traffic of 17 regular season games.
I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m just saying it’s something that needs to happen for the 2022 Saints to be as successful as they can be. Some have fallen into the trap of thinking Payton’s absence won’t make much of a difference. It will certainly make a big difference behind the scenes. Someone is going to have to do everything Payton did, and they’re going to have to do it well. Otherwise, Payton’s absence will really make a big difference for the Saints.