Maybe, Mickey Loomis said, the New Orleans Saints had gotten a bit too comfortable.
On Wednesday, the executive vice president/general manager said his job going forth is to make sure that status changes.
"I've had meetings with the team before," Loomis said Wednesday during his end-of-season news conference. "It's been a while. But I felt like there were some things that needed to be said to the players, just like I think there's things that need to be said to the coaching staff and to our football operations staff, and that's going to be said.
"I think maybe we've gotten a little too comfortable over the last few years, and so I want to make it uncomfortable."
Part of the shakeup was parting ways with three coaches this week – offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, receivers coach Kodi Burns and senior offensive assistant Bob Bicknell. Running backs coach Joel Thomas was hired for the same role with the New York Giants.
But Loomis said he was comfortable that Coach Dennis Allen was the right man for the job in New Orleans.
"I think sometimes the easy thing to do – the lazy thing to do – is to look at the results of the season and say, 'Ahh, it's the coach's fault,' or, 'It's the quarterback's fault,'" Loomis said. "I think often times, you have to look beyond that.
"(Steelers coach) Chuck Noll his first three years, Hall of Fame coach, he was 1-13, 5-9, 6-8 (from 1969-71). But they recognized that this guy is a good football coach. (Browns and Patriots coach) Bill Belichick, here's his first three seasons (in Cleveland, from 1991-93) – 6-10, 7-9, 7-9. (Dallas') Tom Landry, 0-11, 4-9, 5-8, 4-10, 5-8 (from 1960-64). Hall of Fame coaches, all of them. (San Francisco's) Bill Walsh, first year 2-14, second year 6-10 (in 1979-80).
"So, I think the easy thing to do is just look at the results and say, 'We've got to have a change.' You've got to look beyond that. What are the reasons that we were 9-8 instead of 13-4. Look, it's collective. It's the players, it's the coaches, it's me, it's our personnel staff, our roster. It's variables sometimes that we don't have any control of.
"So my assessment is, Dennis Allen is a good coach. With Sean Payton, we went 10-6 the first year but then we were 7-9, 8-8 and I heard some of the same noise. But at the time, I knew we had a good football coach. And so, I think sometimes the hard thing to do is to be patient and recognize your other shortcomings and get those fixed, and that's what we're doing."
Loomis saw improvement from the Saints down the stretch, undeniable advancement that was exhibited as the team won four of its last five regular-season games to finish 9-8, a two-game improvement from Allen's first year as head coach of the Saints.
But Loomis also knew that improvement wasn't good enough for a franchise whose aspirations were higher.
"I think our expectations were higher, collectively," Loomis said. "We had some games that slipped away from us and a couple that we didn't perform in well. it's a variety of reasons.
"So when you look at a season, you look at how you performed – there's so many variables. It just wasn't good enough, ultimately. We didn't achieve our expectations."
That played a large part in Loomis' end-of-season meeting with the players and coaches, and why he's prepared to rock the boat a bit more for the 2024 season.
The decision to alter the offensive staff was made because the organization needed a change.
"Pete's a fantastic coach, been with us 17, 18 years, done a lot of really, really good things," he said. "But just felt like we needed a change."
Loomis said much of what was discussed with players only was for players to hear, but the context of the message was shared Wednesday.
"I think collectively, everybody, if you ask do you want to win, everybody stands up, they raise their hand," he said. "Everybody says, are you willing to do what's necessary to win, they all raise their hand. But sometimes, we're not doing the things that are necessary to win. And that's on me. That's on me, 100 percent.
"I've got to hold our guys to a standard to do the things necessary to win. And I think that I probably let that slip a little bit over the last few years. We're going to get that recalibrated. That's my message to our entire building, it's not just to the players or just the coaches. It's to our entire building.
"I'm accountable for that. We have a certain standard here. and some of it's out of our control – Covid, league rules, there are things that are out of our control. But that doesn't mean that we can't have a standard that we set.
"And look, it starts with me. And certainly, our head coach and our coaching staff and all the people in the building are responsible for it. But it begins with me."
PENNING RESET: Loomis said the Saints still have confidence in second-year offensive tackle Trevor Penning , and that it's up to the staff to tap into Penning's potential.
"I think with any offensive lineman, and there's some other positions where this is applicable, you make an assessment and a vision of where you have them and if that doesn't work out, you look at their strengths and weaknesses – 'Hey, maybe we can place him there.'
"I think with Trevor, look, we didn't do him any favors. He comes in as a rookie, he gets hurt, he misses 10 games, we play him the back half of that season primarily in a jumbo role and he did some good things, and then he gets hurt and he has no offseason, then we throw him in there as the starter Week 1. I think a lot of that falls on us, in terms of where he was and what he was ready to do.
"I'm still pretty high on Trevor Penning, I think we all are. But we recognize that we've got to do a better job in terms of development and preparing him to be ready. And I think we'll do that this offseason. We'll have a good plan for him."
OPTIMISM FOR RAM: Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk missed the five games last season, including the final four, due to an ailing knee. Ramczyk hinted at possible offseason surgery to correct the problem.
"Any time you have a good player who's going through a tough thing health-wise, you're always concerned," Loomis said. "And yet, I have a positive feeling about where he's going to end up, and I think he does as well."
STAYING PUT: Loomis put to rest rumors that he would be vacating his GM role and assuming another position within the organization.
"I saw a couple of things," he said. "That was just made up. Somebody just made that up. That's never been discussed or talked about. Now, am I slower? Yeah. I probably ran a 4.5(-second 40-yard dash) when I was 30 and I don't think I could run 5 flat right now. So I am slower.
"But, I've been asked that question. You get asked that when you get to a certain age, and I've said, I'm just going to wake up one morning and say, 'This is the day.' And it's not going to be tomorrow, but everything for the next 10 years is open."