When the New Orleans Saints wrapped up the 2021 season on Jan. 9, 2022, they finished with a record of 9-8 and just missed the playoffs.
This was remarkable after dealing with an insurmountable number of obstacles, including a month’s relocation and playing a “home” game on the road due to Hurricane Ida, having 22 players out for a game due to Covid and numerous injuries to the starters, including losing QB Jameis Winston for the year in Week 8. In fact, the Saints set an NFL record in 2021, starting 58 different players last season.
At one point, they had to start their rookie quarterback, Ian Book, in Week 16 against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football (a game I still think should have been postponed, BTW).
All that was a lot for any team to deal with, but the hits kept on coming and NO ONE could have predicted what would happen next.
On Jan. 25, 2022, Sean Payton announced that he was stepping down from being the head coach of the Saints after 15 seasons. It was a move that no one expected or was really prepared for. While the exact reasons for his departure are still unknown, Payton was gone, and it was time for the Saints to move on as well. Fortunately, they did not have to look too far or long for Payton’s successor. Dennis Allen, who had served as the team’s defensive coordinator since 2015, was named the Saints’ new head coach on Feb. 8, 2022.
Allen did not waste much time putting his stamp on this team, hiring as well as promoting several assistant coaches over the next few weeks.
In March, the Saints re-signed QB Jameis Winston to a two-year deal worth $28 million.
In April, during the NFL Draft, the Saints made the most of their two first-round picks, selecting WR Chris Olave and OT Trevor Penning (who will be on injured reserve for at least the first four weeks of the season after tearing a ligament in his foot in the Saints’ final preseason game). Both are expected to make significant contributions to the offense. With the remaining picks, the Saints went all defense, drafting CB Alontae Taylor in the second round, LB D’Marco Jackson (who landed on the practice squad) in the fifth round, and with their final draft pick, they selected DT Jordan Jackson (another practice squad addition) in the sixth round.
The Saints got a slow start in free agency, but when they did get going, they made a huge splash, signing NOT one but two former LSU Tigers/ hometown favorites, WR Jarvis Landry and S Tyrann Mathieu. Both signings had the Saints trending on social media for days.
To back up Jameis Winston, the Saints signed veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, who is a definite upgrade over Trevor Siemian. They re-signed WR Deonte Harty, S P.J. Williams, WR Tre’Quan Smith, RB Dwayne Washington, TE Juwan Johnson, DE Carl Granderson, DT Albert Huggins (currently on injured reserve and is expected to miss this season) and added to the defense with the free agent signings of S Marcus Maye (who may be facing a suspension or worse after being arrested for aggravated assault with a firearm in an alleged road rage incident), S Daniel Sorensen, DE Taco Charlton (now on the Saints’ practice squad) and DE Kentavius Street.
After an unexpected start to the offseason, it certainly looks like the Saints are headed in the right direction and it will be fun to see what they can do now, especially with all the new additions and changes that have been made in such a short period of time.
We will see! Stay tuned.
Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @TheNolaGirl