Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Wednesday that his team’s 7-9 season was “beyond disappointing,” but that they had to be careful not to make it only about the absence of head coach Sean Payton.
“We’ve got a higher standard than we’ve ever had here,” Loomis said, via Mike Triplette of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “That doesn’t mean we change everything here. We don’t need a cultural change. We don’t need to retool everything in the organization. But we do need to look at everything with a critical eye. We can’t just say it was all about Sean not being here or all about the bounty.
“I’m optimistic. Heck yes. We’ve got a good team here. We’ve got a great culture. We’ve got a great locker room. We’ve got guys that are accountable. We’ve got guys that are disappointed, frustrated, angry about the season we just had. And so that’s a good sign. Guys that care. Guys that are determined to do better next year — and I’m talking about players, coaches, staff, ownership.
“We’re not sweeping this under the rug.”
Loomis admitted part of the problem would be working around a tight salary cap situation, as they’re estimated to be around $16 million over next year’s limit as they stand. He said it wasn’t “a mess,” but there is the small matter of trying to fix a defense that set an NFL record for most yards allowed in a season.
The nearly over suspension of Payton also hinders their ability to finalize their coaching staff for next year, though Loomis said no major changes were imminent.
Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer have been mentioned in connection with other jobs, but Loomis said extensions have been offered to all of their assistants who weren’t under contract, and that “the majority of our coaches are under contract for next year.”
That does not, as yet, include Payton, as Loomis said the deal they’ve agreed to has not been submitted to the league for approval.
Getting Payton back is a clear first step, but Loomis is smart to not make it the only issue. If the Saints play martyr, and pretend their only problem was that big meanie Roger Goodell, they’ll be glossing over some fundamental issues with their team, things that Payton alone can’t fix.