So, just like that, the 2021-22 NFL season is in the books. It brought along the ecstasy of victory and the agony of untimely interceptions, injuries galore and dashed playoffs hopes. So, let’s look at what happened in the Saints’ game yesterday. But before that...
As always, for our novice or non-New Orleanians readers, welcome!
Let’s start with some definitions:
Beignets (English: /bɛnˈjeɪ/; French: [bɛɲɛ], ben-YAY literally bump) are distinctly New Orleans, a delicacy intimately connected to the city’s rich French heritage. Best enjoyed heavily powdered with sugar.
This is your “After-Saints-Game” brunch, where we talk about the state of the Black and Gold, we debate the goings-on with the team and talk about what’s next at this point of the season. So, sit back, take a bite and a sip while your brain slowly wakes up, and let’s catch up on some football.
What Just Happened?
The New Orleans Saints (9-8) had to win against the Atlanta Falcons (7-10) to give themselves hope for a fifth postseason berth in a row. It was preposterous that the Saints were even in that position, in a season where they played four total quarterbacks and started an NFL-high 58 players. But the 2021 NFL season for New Orleans was unlike any other. In the year after the retirement of future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints truly had no real answer at the position all year. Even when they were 5-2 with Jameis Winston at the helm, the Saints were pedestrian on offense, and were doing most of their winning because of a championship defense that unfortunately, will not win a championship this season.
New Orleans, at one point lost five games in a row. In one game, they started Ian Book, a player that was inactive for most of the season. Oh, and yeah, they played two games without a slew of coaches and players due to COVID protocols, including one game where they were missing Sean Payton himself. But yesterday, the Saints needed to win against their hated rivals, the Atlanta Falcons. But because of the intricacies of the NFL schedule, they also needed the San Francisco 49ers to lose to the Los Angeles Rams in LA. Well, the Saints beat the Falcons 30-20 and to be fair, the score did not reflect how dominant the Saints were in Atlanta, against a team that despite already being out of the playoffs, would have loved nothing more than ruin New Orleans chances of advancing to the postseason.
But in LA, something that had not happened in a long time happened. The 49ers got down 17-0 against the LA Rams. San Fran had been 0-40 when trailing by 17 points or more in NFL games. The Sean McVay-led Rams where 45-0 in games when leading by 17 points or more at halftime. And all those records fell on Sunday because the San Francisco 49ers came all the way back to defeat the Rams 27-24 in overtime.
Sometimes I wonder if the 2009 Super Bowl win by New Orleans angered the deceased voodoo priestesses because the city of NOLA was too loud for about a month straight, and they cursed the franchise. Because since winning that championship, the breaks have not gone the Saints’ way, and I am not going to list them here for you.
But in any case, the Saints are now on vacation. at least the players. The front office has a lot of work to do, and it starts with finding a quarterback. One that can take this offense back to the level we had become accustomed to, in the Sean Payton era. A quarterback that can help this incredible Saints’ defense win the championship it deserves. And in my humble opinion, that quarterback has never worn a Saints’ uniform. He just finished his regular season with the Seattle Seahawks.
Beignets and Café au Lait Awards
Hot Beignets and Hot Café au Lait: Marcus Davenport
You remember how so many thought that Marcus Davenport was a bust? Well, the 14th overall pick by the Saints in the 2018 NFL draft just finished his third NFL season with 9.0 sacks in only 11 games, after recording 1.5 sacks yesterday against the Falcons. Davenport, who has been oft-injured, missed six games this year, yet finished second on the team in sacks, only 3.5 sacks behind team-leader Cameron Jordan. At age 25, Davenport is entering the prime of his career, and if he can figure out how to mitigate his injury problems, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with on the Saints’ defensive line for many years to come.
More Hot Beignets and Hot Café au Lait: Sean Payton
The Saints are not going to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Their offense, Sean Payton’s specialty, was plain unwatchable for most of the season. And yet, Sean Payton deserves a couple of game balls for the way he managed the adversity that his team faced this season. Football coaches love clichés, and one of the most overused one is: we don’t blink. Well, in the case of the 2021 New Orleans Saints, they literally had their eyelids glued open. The Saints could have folded so many times this season, but Sean Payton wouldn’t let them. A true leader shows his worth when things are going south, and this season maybe more than any other in his New Orleans tenure, Sean Payton showed that he is the right man to lead the Saints franchise.
The offseason. And yes, it sucks!
What is the Saints’ biggest priority for next season?
Sign a franchise quarterback.
Sign some wide receivers that can catch the ball.
Re-sign Jameis Winston, he can be a franchise QB.
My first priority is to eat more burgers in 2022 than I did in 2021.
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