Sean Payton did the obvious and necessary thing. His defense was struggling. Thus, coordinator Rob Ryan had to go. The way it was handled was odd and unnecessary but ultimately the right move was made. Ryan was held accountable for his defense's shortcomings.
Now, the focus needs to turn to Payton. His seat is way too cool for a coach in his current predicament.
It's interesting that all the speculation surrounding Payton's future status has to do with him wanting to pursue other opportunities. Yet, there has never been any report of pressure coming from the organization for him to perform his current job better.
Why is that?
'It starts with me,' is a regular Payton post-game comment. But I have to wonder if anyone is truly holding him to that.
One of the national reports said the Saints would be willing to let Payton walk because of all the good he has done for the organization.
If that's true, there's the problem.
Is the organization as a whole still living off the great vibes of 2009? Have they allowed that euphoric past to be blind to the present state of the Saints? Or even worse, have they allowed Payton to have so much power that no one feels they can challenge him to be better?
Payton wasn't the only one that won a ring that year. So did a full roster of players. Only six still remain. And if the players that helped get the ring can be deemed replaceable, so can the head coach.
And it's not just the organization, the local media has done the same thing. We've all realized the magnitude of this successful run. But we've allowed the accolades of the past to give Payton a pass for longer than he deserved. If this exact predicament of a bad record, financial mess, and multiple personnel failures were to happen in Philly or New York, they would've been calling for head well before it ever got to this point. Regardless if a Super Bowl ring was won six years ago.
I'm not even doing that here. This isn't a hit piece calling for Payton to be fired.
I'm simply suggesting that everything starts with Payton in this organization. Thus, he should feel the pressure like everyone else. Is it really unfair or unreasonable to expect better than a 29-29 record over the last three and a half seasons? Yes, one of those seasons he was gone. But his absence also vaulted him to an $8 million annual salary a year later. That's an elite level salary for multiple mediocre teams. What's worse is a lot of what got them to this point were HIS decisions.
Chuck Pagano has gone 11-5 in the first three seasons as Colts head coach. He's got Indianapolis to the AFC championship game last year. His seat is hot enough to melt him right now. In fact, Payton is the coach rumored to replace him.
A 4-6 coach on the verge of his second consecutive losing season, shouldn't have the luxury of picking his next destination. He should fear losing the one he currently has. Turning this season around shouldn't just be hoped for, it should be demanded of Payton.