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Barry Hirstius

WHAT NEXT, Sean???

If you would have told Saints head coach Sean Payton just a few weeks ago that his team would actually look WORSE 2 games into the 2017 season than they have for the last 3 consecutive losing seasons under his leadership, you would have probably gotten the famous Payton "stare of death" to let you know just how off-base you were.

After a suffering a humiliating and humbling defeat thanks to a dominant performance by the defending World Champion New England Patriots -- who only scored 36 points but could have EASILY put up 60 points -- that notion that would have been laughed at then has quickly become an all-too painful reality.

With high expectations coming into the season already weighing on his shoulders, Sean Payton's team gave an even worse performance than the disappointing one they had given just 6 days earlier at Minnesota.

The Saints were at least competitive against the Vikings, but yesterday they were egregiously bad at times in what can only be described as an embarrassing performance --- and one so bad that it's something we have rarely seen in the past decade plus of Payton's running the show.

Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe

Now, Payton and the Saints suddenly find themselves in an 0-2 "hole" to start the season, for a 4th straight year, and another losing season of (7-9) or worse seems like a sure bet at this point.

And now the question suddenly becomes: how bad does it have to actually get, before Payton will suffer (if at all) any consequences for the team's overall poor performance; and specifically the at times complete 'garbage'-level of play of the team's "crime against nature", the defense --- which is currently (and not surprisingly) ranked 32nd overall in total defense (512.5 yards allowed per game).

It's been noted previously in the past that Saints owner Tom Benson is fiercely loyal to his employees and especially ones that he likes personally and in the case of Sean Payton, won him a Super Bowl trophy 8 years ago.

Would Benson actually FIRE Payton?

That question is unknown at this time, but here's what we do know: Payton is currently one of the highest paid coaches in the NFL ($9 million per season), and has had 3 straight losing seasons and appears to be headed for a 4th.

Then on top of that, we now have the unfathomable start to this new 2017 season that has fan-bases from other teams across the NFL, pulling out their old "Aint's" jokes from the 1980's.

As NOLA.com columnist Jeff Duncan noted in his article yesterday afternoon, the Saints in their first 2 games have already surrendered 7 touchdowns and 6 field goals to their opponent's offense in a total of 19 offensive series, and have only forced them to punt just five times.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

And if that wasn't bad enough? The Saints defense has forced only two --- count them: TWO -- "three-and-outs" in 2 whole games.

Duncan adds that Vikings QB Sam Bradford last week and Tom Brady yesterday, have combined to complete 80 percent of their passes (57 of 71) for 193 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. Their combined passer rating is 141.4.

That ladies and gentlemen, is completely unacceptable, especially for a team that we were led to believe was "improved" coming into the new season.

So......

WHAT NEXT, Sean???

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

What are you going to do about this mess that your team suddenly finds itself in?

Maybe give us the usual "coach speak" that we've heard over and over for the past several seasons that has grown tiresome, and that most people now "tune out" (perhaps even the players themselves) as if it were the "blah, blah, blah" of the school teacher in the Charlie Brown kids cartoons.

Maybe we could just say that it's the month of September's fault, since the Saints are now 1-11 in the first month of the regular season in the past 4 years. The last Saints victory in the month of September? It was in 2014. 

But this runs way deeper than some randomly-known fact or silly superstition.

This is about a head coach who has more than likely just simply run his course at his current locale, and needs a "change of scenery".

But a change at some point is inevitable anyway, especially when you have a QB that's about to turn 39 and has been non-committal about his returning to the team, for one last final run as the unmistakable "face of the franchise".

And to be totally honest: perhaps the team needs a change,and the organization needs a change. Even fans are now coming around to the idea of making big changes after this season as well.

However --- there are still 14 games left, and this season isn't over just yet.

Does Payton have a plan on how to get the Saints out of this mess?

“We just finished talking about the sprint here that we are in to improve each week. Obviously, you start out like this and there is disappointment and yet, we have the right type of locker room", Payton told reporters after the game.

"We are going to have to respond quickly, we play Carolina and then go on the road for another week so we will find out what we are made of.”

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

If the Saints hope to have ANY chance of eventually having a winning season and a shot at the 2017 NFL Playoffs, it's reasonable to assume that they at the very least will need to split the first 4 games.

So far, they're already 2 games "in the hole", and it's not looking too good for their chances to pull that goal off.

But this much is a fact: this current Saints team as we know it and as its presently constructed, can not and WILL NOT survive another 7-9 (or worse) season.

It's almost a virtual guarantee that big (as in, really BIG) changes are in store for the Saints franchise if they don't have a winning season or make the NFL Playoffs this year.

Which is exactly why that now only 2 weeks into the 2017 regular season, that the Saints ALREADY find themselves in a "must-win" situation next week in Charlotte, North Carolina when they face their division rivals, the Panthers.

I said last week that I didn't think Sean Payton was on the "hot seat" just yet, but that the sucker was gonna get warm pretty quick if they lost to the Patriots.

If Sean Payton and the Saints lose again next week in Carolina, his ass will feel like it's completely on fire.

WHAT NEXT, Sean???

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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