The New Orleans Saints have experienced a renaissance, or a “rebirth” of sorts, since their run of three 7-9 seasons that spanned from the 2014-2016 seasons. Debates have raged among Saints fans and media members alike in which New Orleans squad has been the best. The 2009 Super Bowl winning team sticks out for obvious reasons, as does the 2011 team with their historic offense. But, what about the 2017 squad that included one of the best draft classes in the franchise’s history? What about the well-balanced 2018 team that lost to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game due to the “no-call?” Or the 2019 iteration of the unit that went out in the first round of the playoffs?
Fast forward to 2020 and we are once again asking ourselves: is this the best team the Saints have ever assembled? The defense is ranked number one in the league, the first time that feat has been accomplished under head coach Sean Payton. Additionally, the offense has played well, especially when commanded by Drew Brees. In fact, it is those factors, as well as good performances by Taysom HIll, that have New Orleans in the driver’s seat for the top-seed in the NFC.
Success does not occur by happenstance in the NFL, it takes leadership, hard work and dedication to the craft. That is why it is no surprise that with the additions of Malcolm Jenkins, and Emmanuel Sanders that the Saints have become lethal on both sides of the ball. But, is this 2020 squad really the best squad in franchise history in terms of talent, cohesiveness and chemistry?
Luckily, Canal Street Chronicles was able to ask Taysom Hill and two-time Super Bowl winner Malcolm Jenkins this exact question. Both of their answers are very telling to how they value this squad, as well as the added expectations that it brings.
Hill is in the midst of his fourth season and is on the cusp of his fourth NFC South championship. We asked Hill what this locker room looks like, how this group of players are performing, and how it compares to the previous seasons’ squads:
“Good question. I think the nice thing, at least since I’ve been here, this is obviously my fourth year, the leadership has really not changed. As you look at some of the captains that we’ve had, obviously Drew’s (Brees) been a consistent captain, Terron’s (Armstead) been consistent over the last couple years. And then, defensively Cam (Jordan) has been consistent. Demario (Davis) has been consistent. And so, I think the leadership’s set the expectation, the expectation is to win football games. This is an organization where we win football games. And Coach talked about it today, that as we step onto the facility onto the grounds, day one training camp, the number one goal is, and the first goal is to win the division. We certainly have goals that reach higher than that, but that’s the expectation. I think having consistent leadership has been really big.”
That response is exactly in-line with everything we have been hearing from this team and its coaching staff all season: consistency. What may set this team apart from the rest, aside from maybe the 2009 team, is that this team is winning games in all three phases of the game. It is a collective effort that has New Orleans in the top dog position in the conference, as well as the top-ranked defense in the league.
A huge part of this 2020 defense is the aforementioned Jenkins, who in the offseason decided to return to the Saints after the Philadelphia Eagles cut him from the roster. However, after his Super Bowl run with New Orleans he embarked on another with the Eagles. The safety has a unique insight into multiple championship winning teams and what allows them to succeed.
Of course we had to ask Jenkins how this 2020 team and its locker room compares to all the squads he has been on, including the two Super Bowl-winning squads. His answer was leveled, as expected, but still offered a glimpse into just how special this current team can be:
“It’s different. I think obviously everybody’s been talented. Every team has been talented, every team has kind of had a story. But this one, to me, has the most potential. Obviously, the two teams that I was on made it and won. And we still got a lot of football in front of us before I can make before I can make a comparison between those two. But obviously, we have a great team, at this point in season we’ve put ourselves in a great position with a lot still in front of us. But there’s still a lot to accomplish before I can really weigh this team against those two that actually got the job done.”
Jenkins is keeping it all in perspective. The Saints have four more games left in the regular season, and you can consider all of those as “must-wins” since only one team will get a bye in each conference this season. The first seed is more important than ever. Even then, New Orleans will have to zero in on the postseason in order to avoid another heart-breaking knockout in the early rounds.
This team has everything in place to ensure success throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs. Chemistry, consistency, talent and drive is what separates this squad from the rest. Now is the time for execution and this team is peaking at just the right time. Good times are ahead, the players believe it, so should we.
What New Orleans Saints team do you believe was the best? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @KadeKistner.