A light one, but a good one, for this week's New Orleans Saints mailbag. We'll be back next week, and we'll take more of them. Until then, here goes:
@DevonMillet: What do you think the chances are that the Saints will trade Coach Sean Paytonand Drew Breesand begin rebuilding this offseason?
JD: If I was General Manager Mickey Loomis, I'd have a real good answer for you. Since I'm not, all I have is my uninformed opinion, and that's this: Slim and none – with "none" decidedly holding the upper hand. First, the Saints already are pretty young (other than Brees, offensive linemen Jahri Evansand Zach Strief, and safety Roman Harper, who would you consider closer to the end than to the beginning of their career?) so the roster already has been youth-anized almost across the board. Second, they have lost six of their eight games by six points or less, with deciding margins including a blocked PAT that was returned for a two-point conversion (Denver), a two-point conversion following a touchdown drive that was extended by a pretty controversial pass interference call on fourth down (Oakland), a pick-six (Kansas City) and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown (the Giants). Few NFL teams would feel they're far from being a playoff team if they lost games in such a manner, and still had a chance to finish 8-8. Most, if not all, would believe if they clean up some details, add more talent and stayed a little healthier, they would be right in the mix. But that's just my opinion, and I don't have Loomis' ear.
@whodatbigbaby: Why won't the Saints replace General Manager Mickey Loomis? His mistakes have set the team back significantly.
JD: Mistakes are a collaborative effort, not a singular one. So when mistakes are made, even though Loomis' name is the prominent one, they usually are a group effort. However, if the errors are to be logged under a single entry, shouldn't the "hits" similarly be logged? And if that's the case, does Loomis also receive all the credit for the decisions that have worked out positively for the Saints? Not just the personnel decisions, but also the ones that allowed the Saints to remain players in free agency even while outsiders suggested, year after year, that they had no available funds with which to secure a free agent, and barely enough to pay their own players? Loomis isn't perfect; no general manager is. But he's a lot better at his job than some people might think.
@_elijahmalik: Why is the Saints' defense so trash?
JD: The defense isn't nearly as "trash" as you may think, especially over the last nine games. Now, I could give you some numbers to support that theory, like 87 rushing yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry allowed during that time. Or the fact that 23 touchdown passes and a 95.4 passer rating have been allowed this year, compared to 43 touchdown passes allowed through 15 games last year and a passer rating of 116.2 for the season. Or the fact that opponents ran for 2,071 yards and 4.9 yards per carry last year, but the numbers are down to 1,484 and 4.0 this year. Or the fact that the Saints will finish the season with two starting cornerbacks (Sterling Mooreand B.W. Webb) who weren't on the roster in training camp, and a leading tackler (linebacker Craig Robertson) and two playmakers at defensive tackle (Nick Fairleyand Sheldon Rankins) who weren't on the team last year. But I get the feeling that none of that really is going to make a dent in your impression. So, forget all that, and carry on.