State of Play in the NFC South: New Orleans Saints

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

State of Play in the NFC South: New Orleans Saints


State of Play in the NFC South: New Orleans Saints


Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The NFC South was the NFL’s worst division in 2022. All four teams finished with a losing record, and they all have big questions to answer this offseason. 

Expectations were high in New Orleans ahead of the 2022-23 season, but an inconsistent, injury-riddled season left the New Orleans Saints sub .500 with a third place finish in the division. It was not good enough. 


Season Record: 7-10

The Saints spent one week above .500 in the entire season. After their Week One win over the Atlanta Falcons, the Saints spent the next 17 weeks below .500. A late three-win streak after the bye made things respectable, but the Saints fell short for much of the 2022-23 season. 

Best Win: 39-32 win over the Seattle Seahawks

A back-and-forth win over the Seattle Seahawks was a fond farewell to the Sean Payton era. The Saints went berserk on offense as “Mr. Football” Taysom Hill produced a furious display of rushing, blocking, and passing. It was a pure offensive explosion. 


Worst Loss: 17-16 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

On a Monday night in Florida, the Saints succumbed in the final minutes to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints had controlled 75% of the game and still lost. A stuttering offense and ill discipline allowed Brady to come back and win. It ended New Orleans’ playoff hopes. 


Team MVP: Chris Olave

Before suffering a horrifying concussion, Chris Olave was the shoo-in for Offensive Player of The Year. Ohio State’s smooth operator effortlessly transitioned to the NFL. Olave’s end numbers were not earth-shattering, but mitigating circumstances were at play. Overall, the rookie looked fine. The Saints have a legitimate cornerstone. 


Biggest roster weakness: Defensive End

The Saints finished 32nd in pass-rush win rate for the 2022-23 season. Their pass rush was inconsistent and often anemic. Cam Jordan looks like a spent force, and the Saints badly miss Trey Hendrickson. With all eyes on Payton Turner and Carl Granderson, the Saints look short at defensive end. 


Biggest roster strength: Wide Receiver

At full strength, New Orleans’ wide receiver room is one of the most talented position groups in the NFL. Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry are two erstwhile talents with veteran moxie. And in Olave, they possess a budding star. If the Saints can get them on the field together, business will quickly pick up. 


Biggest offseason question: What to do at Quarterback

The best quarterback on the Saints’ roster is a fullback. Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston are not the future. It feels like the Saints must draft a rookie or trade for a veteran. But with precious assets and a dire cap situation, the Saints are in a tough spot. A quarterback room of a veteran, a rookie, and potentially Taysom Hill could spell problems. 


The Outlook: Uncertain

The Saints were one of the oldest teams in the NFL last season, and they need to get fresher and younger. But their awful cap situation and lack of draft capital will hamstring them. With an aging roster and an inexperienced head coach, the rebuild could be painful. 


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