3. The 2006 Offseason
The 2006 offseason was a very busy one for Mickey Loomis, Tom Benson, and the Saints. Following the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina, the Saints spent most of 2005 away from home. The club entered the offseason looking to regroup and improve on their 2005 mark of 3-13. On January 18, the club named Sean Payton the 14th head coach in club history. Almost two months later, on March 14, the Saints agreed to terms with free agent QB Drew Brees.
Sean Payton came to the Saints after serving under Bill Parcells for the Dallas Cowboys. In his opening season, the Saints jumped out to a 3-0 start for the first time in team history, equaling the club's win total from the prior season. Payton and the Saints clinched the NFC South title before the regular season finale as New Orleans led the NFL in total offense. The Saints advanced to the NFC Championship for the first time in franchise history and appeared in the playoffs for the first time since 2000. At the end of the season, Payton was voted Coach of the Year by the Associated Press, Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America, *The Sporting News, *and the Maxwell Club.
In his six seasons with the Saints, Payton has led the team to their first Super Bowl in franchise history and three NFC South titles. The Saints led the NFL in offense in four seasons and finished first in scoring in 2008, 2009, and 2011. Payton has compiled a 67-37 record in New Orleans and has reached the post-season four times. Payton holds the franchise's top winning percentage (.644) and only one NFC club has more wins over his tenure. The team had won only one playoff game before Payton arrived and has posted a 5-3 record since 2006.
A lot of his success, especially on the offense comes from the signing of Brees. Brees came to New Orleans after suffering a shoulder injury while playing for the San Diego Chargers. Despite some concerns about his health, Brees made an immediate impact on and off the field in just his first season in New Orleans. On the field, he completed 356-of-554 passes for an NFL-leading 4,418 yards and 26 touchdown passes while posting a team-record 96.2 passer rating.
Since 2006, Brees leads the NFL with 28,394 passing yards (Saints all-time leader), 3,670 attempts with 2,488 completions, and 201 touchdown passes. Brees has thrown for over 300 yards in 50 games with the Saints. Brees is also only the second player in NFL history to pass for over 4,000 yards in six consecutive seasons.
Brees has posted a record of 62-33 with the Saints in the regular season, ranked first in franchise history. He was named Offensive Player of the Year in 2008, 2009, and 2011 and has been selected to five Pro Bowls while in New Orleans. For his career, he is ranked as the second-most accurate passer in NFL history and owns the eighth-best passer rating. Brees also ranks ninth in touchdown passes and 12th in passing yardage. Brees holds or has tied 24 club career, single-season and single-game records, seven of them NFL marks.
The club also made some front office moves as well, announcing the promotions of Rita Benson LeBlanc to Owner/Executive Vice President, Dennis Lauscha to Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer, Ben Hales to Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Vicky Neumeyer to Vice President/General Counsel, and Mike Stanfield to Vice President of Ticket and Suite Sales. All of those executives are still with the team.