1 What we learned
When the Saints were winning games, there was too much of a willingness to overlook the things the team wasn’t doing well. They couldn’t cover tight ends very well or stop the run during that span, but it was pushed aside since they were winning games. The problem is, those issues never went away even if we were willing to ignore them. There’s no hiding anymore. New Orleans failed to do those things Sunday and was beaten by a Washington team that is also flawed in some key areas. The Saints are a decent football team that is going to win some games. But that’s the ceiling for this group.
2 Trending now
The attention now is going to turn to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his future with the organization. Maybe Sean Payton gives him a reprieve, places some of the blame on a lack of talent and injuries, and allows Ryan to redeem himself. As Ryan said last week, some patience is required. The defense installed a new scheme this offseason and had a lot of turnover. But it’s been 10 weeks now, and there doesn’t seem to be much progress taking place. A blind vote of confidence might be a little too much to ask for. If Ryan lives to the other side of the off week, his seat is going to be very warm.
3 Final thoughts
After Sunday’s game, coach Sean Payton was asked how he moves forward knowing that his chances of the playoffs are all but over. He said he is still going to try to win every game. It was notable that he didn’t try to say his team still has hope. Theoretically speaking, they could make the playoffs by winning out — an unlikely outcome, but still possible. But for those hoping this team would tank for draft position, that was always an unlikely outcome. New Orleans had nothing to play for in Week 17 last season and still played for the win.
— Nick Underhill