2022 was a rocky season for the New Orleans Saints. In case the offseason amnesia is kicking in, let’s take a look at what the team dealt with last season.
It was the first year without head coach Sean Payton since 2006.
The team sustained dozens of injuries that included some of their most valuable players.
Partially due to injuries, the team was without a consistent quarterback. Even once Jameis Winston was considered healthy, the team stuck with veteran Andy Dalton.
The Saints finished 7-10 and collected their first losing season since 2016.
Harsh criticism occurred early and often for Allen and Carmichael. Although there were some objectively poor decisions made, much of the misfortune was not directly caused by coaching decisions. Making personnel decisions with the second-most banged-up roster in the league is extremely difficult. Also, leading a team to the playoffs after a tenured-coach departure is not only difficult but a rarity in today’s league.
I've been as critical of him as anyone, but Dennis Allen has gotten nearly everything he wanted this offseason (except a new OC).— John Sigler (@john_siglerr) March 16, 2023
-Hired the assistants he wanted
-Got his QB
-Got a power RB
-Big changes at DT
Absolutely no excuses if his team flops again this season.
However, 2023 is not 2022.
Dennis Allen returns with a year as head coach under his belt (three if you include his time in Oakland), Pete Carmichael now has a year of experience running the offense without Payton, and the team has (seemingly) found a consistent quarterback in Derek Carr.
There are currently very few injury concerns heading into training camp. Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, Derek Carr, and Alvin Kamara are all expected to be healthy at camp. Although bad injury luck could strike again in 2023, the team should be starting on the right foot.
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the team has a laughably easy schedule. ESPN ranked the Saints with the lowest strength of schedule, mainly due to the undeniable weakness of the NFC South.
Again first 5-6 weeks THESE TWO GOTTA SHOW ME! pic.twitter.com/xxWxrCxFSJ— SLiM Bae (@TheeChey_) May 15, 2023
All things considered, 2023 is a make-or-break year for Dennis Allen and Pete Carmichael.
The stage has been set for this New Orleans team to “easily” make the playoffs. Aside from quarterback, this Saints team is arguably just as talented, if not more talented, than the 2018 team that won 13 games and nearly went to the Super Bowl.
The #Saints now have an offense that includes:— Michael Balko (@MichaelBalkoJr) May 15, 2023
Of course, certain uncontrollable factors could plague Allen and Carmichael’s coaching season.
This team has proven to be incredibly injury-prone, especially amongst offensive and defensive skilled positions. Derek Carr, a four-time Pro Bowler, still bears concerns with his consistency and decision-making abilities. And star running back Alvin Kamara could be handed a suspension that removes him from over half of the season.
Regardless, considering the decadent platter of opportunity that the football gods have blessed Allen and Carmichael with, the excuses are few and far between. For the sake of their futures with the franchise, 2023 has to be different.