Jeff Duncan: Legacy on the line for Payton & Brees

Jeff Duncan: Legacy on the line for Payton & Brees
Saints quarterback Drew Brees celebrates New Orleans' Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Indianapolis Colts by kissing the Lombardi Trophy. (Source: Edwin Goode, WVUE-FOX 8)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -The spring after Sean Payton completed his first season in New Orleans, he received a phone message from Bill Walsh, the Hall of Fame coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Walsh wanted Payton to know how much he had enjoyed watching his Saints teams play, particularly his innovative offenses.

It remains one of Payton’s proudest memories, a validation of his work by one of the game’s greatest offensive minds.

Jeff Duncan: Legacy on the line for Payton & Brees

Those 49ers teams under Walsh and his successor George Seifert produced Top 10 offenses for a record 15 consecutive seasons. This year Payton and Drew Brees’ Saints became the only other team in NFL history to match that run.

There’s one major difference, though: The 49ers won four Super Bowls during their run of offensive domination.

Payton and Brees have won just one.

For all of their offensive records, division titles and high-scoring wins, Payton and Brees have managed to make it to the Big Game just once in 14 seasons.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Bad calls and bad luck had a lot to do with those recent playoff setbacks. And I get it. But here the thing: No one outside of New Orleans cares or pays attention to such details. In the end, fairly or not, head coaches and quarterbacks are judged on championships. And right now, Brees and Payton have just one.

That’s why this postseason is so important. They’ve worked all year to reach this point. Everything is on the line now.

As Terron Armstead said, it’s Super Bowl or bust for the Saints. How Payton and Brees fare will determine how we view them. Like Walsh and Montana? Or Marv Levy and Jim Kelly?

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