Can you believe the Saints traded up in the draft again? The Saints, who have as many holes on their roster as you'll find on the streets of New Orleans nowadays. The Saints, who have led the league in fewest draft picks under their current regime. Can you believe it? Rather than logically trading down and stockpiling picks to bring some bodies on the roster instead of taking on more water, the Saints brass continues to do more of the same. Can you believe it?!
Well, you should believe it. Honestly, why on Earth would any of us believe anything else? Head Coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis have drafted with a fundamental philosophy in mind: Get the guy you want and use the resources available to you to make it happen. You can trade next years picks to get what you want this year? Brilliant! This is the same franchise that has used that philosophy to "kick the can down the line" regarding their player contracts and circumventing the pesky salary cap.
Should Payton and Loomis have traded down for more picks, or at the very least have stood pat? Sure, it sounds like a solid plan. Draft picks are gambles in and of themselves. There's just no such thing as a sure thing, so it only stands to reason that the more lottery tickets you have, the better odds you have of hitting it big. The only thing is that that's just not how the Saints operate. Is that Payton and Loomis' fault? Actually, it may be ours.
Why do any of us expect Payton and Loomis to deviate from their modus operandi after all this time? What sounds like a sound reasonable philosophy to many of us is just not how this front office operates. Just because we wish something to be true doesn't mean it will be. Like it or not, for better or worse, this is how the Saints will continue to operate as long as Payton and Loomis are at the helm, Jeff Ireland or not, new scouting department or not.
Getting mad at Payton and Loomis for sticking to their philosophy is akin to getting mad at your drunk uncle for getting hammered at your wedding and making wildly inappropriate comments at the reception. C'mon people, he's your drunk uncle! Everyone invited knew that thing was going south when the invite said "Open Bar". It's not your fault he's a drunk, but it is your fault you expected anything other than what happened. You just hoped he'd be a model citizen this one time. It wasn't going to happen, just like the Saints weren't going to draft responsibly and hoard picks.
It's not just the draft either. Every season, many Saints fans think this is the year Sean Payton leans on the running game and gets that coveted balance on offense, and every year those same fans are disappointed by halftime of Week One. Sean Payton runs a pass-first offense, always has run a pass-first offense, and always will run a pass-first offense. Any attempt to hope that will cease to be the case is an exercise in futility. Sean Payton coaches the Sean Payton style and he's not too worried about what anyone thinks of it.
Mickey Loomis has the same philosophy year-round as well. If you think he's changed his style of become "more fiscally responsible" then you clearly paid no attention to the "Josh Norman hour of fun" last month. Loomis has changed nothing. He's always looking to nab the big fish and he'll get as creative as necessary in order to do so. He'll continue to court (and occasionally land) free agents the Saints have no business pursuing, even if Loomis only has a box of Popeye's and Pelicans tickets to pay them with. Call it Loomis Math, call it magic, call it what you will, Loomis uses it with impunity.
The reason Payton and Loomis can continue to operate with their philosophy is due in large part to us. Payton and Loomis face no real criticism for their decisions. Twitter outrage and hurt feelings, sure, but thats about it. Mickey Loomis never gets true criticism. He's applauded for "Loomis Math" and "Make It Happen, Loomis" is the rallying cry directed at the GM whenever a coveted player becomes available. Many don't like when he backloads contracts and saddles the franchise with dead money while mortgaging the future to stock the present. We don't like it when he plays hardball with Drew Brees, but we love when he stuns us by signing Jairus Byrd, well, until he signs Jairus Byrd and it all turns to ash.
Sean Payton is on a whole other level himself. He had the city, and the fanbase as a whole, on pins and needles while we were awaiting his decision. His contract wasn't even up, but the threat of him leaving for another franchise had everyone on eggshells. Payton wasn't going anywhere. He wields the kind of power and favor in New Orleans that is only eclipsed by Drew Brees. He'll hear the clamoring for trading down, for picking guards, for running the ball, so on and so forth, and he'll laugh it all off while he does what he does. While he continues to do what won him a Super Bowl and has made him the highest paid coach in the NFL, in a market that fears the day he leaves for another team.
So while many of us lament the way Payton and Loomis operate, while we bristle at the philosophy that they employ, it's easy to understand why they do it. They hold all the leverage in their relationship with the franchise and the fans. They simply can't help themselves, they are drunk uncle, and it's made them very successful. We can continue to hope for change in their philosophy, but it would be a fool's errand. They won't change, but maybe we'll be the ones to come around before its all said and done.