Sean Payton and the 2021 New Orleans Saints season started with no guarantees, no Drew Brees, no Michael Thomas, no Wil Lutz and no home. Hurricane Ida hit SE Louisiana on August 29th and forced the Saints to spend the first month of the season living in Dallas and playing their Week 1 “home” game against the Green Bay Packers in Jacksonville. Then Week 2, they were without 8 members of their coaching staff and 2 defensive starters due to Covid and injuries. After starting 5-2, QB Jameis Winston went down with a torn ACL in Week 8. Then QB Taysom Hill missed 3 weeks due to a concussion. Covid struck again during Week 18, when the Saints had to play the Miami Dolphins on MNF without 4 coaches and 22 of their players including QB’s Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian. Even Payton had to miss coaching the 2nd game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to testing positive for Covid.
So, for those keeping score, Sean wrote a game plan for the Saints this season that included starting 58 different players. Losing 3 key players on the offensive line, that missed a total of 25 games combined. As well as starting 4 different quarterbacks and going through 4 different kickers. After all that, the Saints still managed to finish the season with a 9-8 record and were a Los Angeles Rams win away from making the playoffs for the 5th straight year.
Payton rallied the team to play their best and the Saints fought a good fight despite all the obstacles, week after week. Sure, there were some questionable decisions made at times but what Payton did this season was nothing short of miraculous. There is no denying that. Could the other coaches in the NFL’s COTY discussion do the same? Highly debatable. The truth is we will never know because there has never been an NFL team that has had to face this much adversity in a single season. In my opinion, this has been Payton’s most impressive season since coming to New Orleans in 2006. A total of 16 seasons that have included multiple playoff appearances, 3 NFC Championship games and a Superbowl so far.
Who knows what next season will bring? There is one thing that I do know for sure. For all the reasons mentioned above, Sean Payton deserves to be the NFL’s Coach of the Year.
The question is will he???
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