2012 was a rough and unique season for the New Orleans Saints. After unprecedented suspensions and ramifications stemming from the Bountygate scandal, the team never really got on track, and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Arguably the biggest thing affecting the franchise, was the absence of head coach Sean Payton. Never before have we seen a year-long suspension for a head coach, and the impact was felt greatly in New Orleans. I won’t go as far to say that the team’s identity was stripped, but they just weren’t the same without their leader.
Now in 2013, Payton will be returning to the sidelines. There was brief speculation that he might go elsewhere, but it’s clear that his heart lies in the Big Easy. The head coach’s return will make all the difference for the team going forward. You’d have to think, even if all the other players and coaches were suspended last year, if the Saints could have just kept Payton, they might have been okay.
For anyone that thinks coaches are overrated, 2012 showed us that they’re equally as important as anyone else. Drew Brees is a great leader for New Orleans, but he was missing his partner in crime last year.
Now an entire year removed from the scandal, Payton will return with a new defensive coordinator, and a fresh start. Even without him, the Saints flirted with the playoffs, so his return could easily put the team back in the postseason in 2013.
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