The holiday week kept readers busy and the mailbag light. It's a quick version, but here we go:
@Franco8I: Why isn't the special team coordinator, Greg McMahon, gone? Special teams has cost the Saints three games already.
JD: No doubt, special teams units haven't played well this season. Now, how much of that is attributable to scheme, and how much is attributable to players not executing the plan, is open for debate. When mistakes occur, understandably, people expect accountability. But accountability rarely can, or should, be pinned on a singular player, coach or unit. McMahon today is the same coach who, in his previous eight seasons, helped coordinate a special teams unit that recovered 15 fumbles and scored 12 touchdowns. (Remember Michael Mauti'sblocked punt that he recovered for a touchdown against Atlanta last season? Who do you think scripted that plan?) So, yes, special teams play has been costly, but to singularly blame the unit for three losses isn't all that fair. For instance, the offense turned over the ball four times against Denver and twice against Carolina; those turnovers led to as many, or more, points as did the blocked PAT and field goal against the Broncos and Panthers. And there's no law that says the defense had to surrender a touchdown to Carolina after the blocked field goal (a 40-yard scoring pass just before halftime). Just saying, it's a team game and all three units share the highs and the lows.
@AllAboutSaints9: Do you think cornerback Delvin Breauxwill play better now that he has had about two weeks to rest?
JD: Short answer: Yes. It was obvious, after he returned to the field after missing six games while recovering from his broken fibula, that he wasn't quite the player that he previously has shown that he is. So sitting out the Carolina game last Thursday night, and having the extra time to rest and further rehab his surgically repaired leg, should help. Hopefully, he'll get back to being the shutdown corner that he expects of himself, and that the team counts on him being. Check out his teleconference on NewOrleansSaints.com from Thursday, where he talked about sitting out the Carolina game.
@rayfussell: It feels strange to say this, but if the Saints finish .500 or worse, is it time to move on from Coach Sean Paytonand General Manager Mickey Loomis?
JD: I'm a tad biased (notice, I write for the team's website). But while a third consecutive non-winning record would be disconcerting, the look and feel of this team is that it's trending in the right direction. It hasn't been good enough to overcome some of its errors, and the standings don't give extra credit for close losses, but it just feels like the turn is forthcoming. I know, I know – few really want to read an answer that suggests exercising patience (I'm sure some thought I was not all there when suggesting that, at 0-3, the season wasn't over and the Saints had time to make a move). But there are enough positives happening that, it seems, the team is on the right path. Again, though, I give you the caveat that I'm obviously biased.
@JacobRo53: Should the Saints be looking for a quarterback for the future?
JD: They have been, Jacob. Ryan Griffinwas on the roster in 2013-14. Garrett Graysonwas a third-round pick in 2015 and currently is on the practice squad. Joe Callahanwas claimed off waivers this year, and had to be released because the Saints needed that roster spot. So attempts have been made, and continue to be made, to find the guy who's going to steer the offense after Drew Breesretires (an aside: Brees looks like he has a few more good years remaining, no?). But the right fit hasn't been found, and the franchise simply hasn't been ready to take that risk in the first round on a quarterback, perhaps knowing that it'd be awhile before he saw the field while playing behind Brees. It's hard to find the "right" player, and New Orleans has had the luxury of it not being a high priority because of Brees. But they've looked, and continue to look, for the right player.