New Years come and new years go. It marks a time for change even if it is really only just another page on the calendar. In the NFL, New Years is the end of the regular season, a time where teams look back on the season and decide what changes need to be made. After the Saints whimpered out their 2016 campaign with a 38-32 loss to the archrival Atlanta Falcons, it has become evident that New Orleans must move on from its beloved coach, Sean Payton.

This Friday, Jan. 6, is 12th Night in New Orleans. Well, I guess it’s 12th night everywhere but most folks just don’t know it (or do it like New Orleans). This Friday night, Phunny Phorty Phellows will roar out of the Willow Streetcar barn and rumble and shake across Uptown and down into the CBD proclaiming the start of our favorite time of year — Carnival.

New Orleans used to be blessed with multiple seasons of joy as Christmas and Carnival was preceded directly by another beautiful time of year — football season.

But that might as well be a lifetime ago as the Saints, and their fans, are once again sitting out the playoffs after posting a record of 7-9 for the third year straight. Other teams will compete for the Vince Lombardi trophy but it’s already a new year for the Saints organization.

And with new years come new possibilities and opportunities for change. With  many coaches getting fired, rumors are swirling, once again, that Sean Payton might have a new employer next year. Just like last year, the rumor is Payton will be traded. The L.A. Rams are supposed suitors; the San Diego Chargers have been mentioned as well. I’m sure there will be another team tomorrow.

Sometimes rumors are just that but sometimes they’re real too. Payton said he “plans” to coach the Saints next year. The Bensons should make other plans. If any sort of trade is on the table, even if it’s just cold hard cash, the team should take it. More to the point — trade or no trade — the Bensons should already be in the mindset that Payton will not return. As hard as it is to accept for some fans, the time is now and here is why.

Answer this question for me — who is more important to the Saints success? Drew Brees or Sean Payton?

Trading Sean PaytonThis team isn’t built around Sean Payton. Drew Brees is going to end his career, in a few years, listed as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Payton didn’t create an offensive scheme that propelled Brees to throw for over 5,000 yards this year. Brees propelled the Saints by throwing for 5,000 yards. So, as a Saints fan, wouldn’t you want the organization to do everything humanly possible to get Brees into the playoffs again? Brees has a few years left in his gun. Benson and GM Mickey Loomis (who should also go) need to change the course of this team.

In the NFL, just like every other job or endeavor, you make short plays and long plays to obtain goals. A short play is firing a defensive coordinator after 10 games to try and salvage a season and inject some heart back into your defense. A long play is replacing a beloved coach that can’t get you into the playoffs anymore today, in hopes that two seasons from now the Saints, led by a 40-year-old Brees, are making a deep playoff run.

Windows close in sports. NFL coaches don’t have the benefit of gaming the system like John Calipari does in the NCAA. NFL teams just don’t get to reload by having five new all-stars walking into camp next year. NFL teams have to draft intelligently, seriously vet any free agent acquisition and make long plays like removing a head coach. It’s a tough business.

Do I think another coach can take the Saints to the Superbowl next year? No. Do I think another coach can get the Saints into the playoffs? Yes. And then the next year, if Brees stays around, who knows?

The Saints had a 5,000-yard quarterback, 1,000-yard running back, and two 1,000-yard wide receivers this year and still had a losing record. The defense is a problem and DC Dennis Allen should be released as well. Special teams struggled and et cetera, et cetera. You know what I’m going to write because you’ve been watching the same thing happen for three years.

Do injuries play a part of it? Of course they do — just like they play a role in every other teams success or failure. Some teams are just better at overcoming such adversity. And, while we’re at it — enough with the talk about how close the Saints were to winning games against the Giants, Broncos and Raiders. Every single NFL team can play that same charade of pointing at certain games and saying “woulda, shoulda, coulda.” Here is the fact — the Saints are a 7-9 team through and through and Sean Payton won a Superbowl 2,523 days ago. If no real changes are made this off-season why would you expect anything to be different next year?


Oh well, at least we have Carnival.


And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.


Beer Pairing: Uinta Brewing’s “Trader” Session IPA 

Playlist Recommendation: Propellerheads – “Take California” 


Around the Way

Hey, it’s almost Carnival time. Let’s get happy! If you want to have a good time check out the Wolf Pack of Loyola’s women’s basketball team. The Wolf Pack (12-2), ranked 22nd in the NAIA, are riding an eight-game win streak. Congratulations to senior forward Meghan Temple, who collected the 1,000th point in her career during a 13 point, 10 rebound outing versus Brenau University. The Pack plays Faulkner University (10-4) this Saturday in Montgomery, Alabama at 2 p.m.