By HCR Staff | Aug. 14, 2018
Between now and the start of the 2018 season, Head Coach Ranking will provide a scouting report on all 32 NFL head coaches. Today, we’ll take a look at New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
Now one of the NFL’s longest tenured head coaches, Sean Payton finished No. 2 overall in our inaugural Head Coach Ranking, and it was a well-deserved finish.
Payton completely re-made the Saints in 2017 and he had them one play — the Miracle in Minnesota — away from the NFC Championship Game.
In our view, Payton is one of the NFL’s best coaches. What makes him so good? He may be the only NFL head coach who is expert at game-planning (he still can x-and-o with anyone), play-calling (he is the preeminent offensive play-caller) and organizational leadership (there is no detail too small for Payton in the Saints’ entire football operation).
Prior to Payton’s arrival, the Saints were largely an NFL afterthought — they had some success with Jim Mora, but nothing sustained. Since Payton’s arrival, NFL fans have expectations for the Saints. That sentiment alone captures Payton’s head coaching acumen.
In 2017, Payton showed his personnel acumen by aggressively pursuing Alvin Kamara in the draft. He stuck with DC Dennis Allen and helped turn the Saints into a formidable defensive squad. Finally, Payton also re-fashioned the Saints offense by proving it didn’t need Drew Brees throwing the ball 40 times a game to win.
If there is one thing Payton may need to continue to work, it would be his temperament. He runs hot, and he expects others to match his intensity. Last season, we felt he did an excellent job in this area as he showed a lot of trust in his young team. For example, the Saints trailed early by a fairly large deficit in the divisional playoff game at Minnesota, but Payton was able to patiently stick to his gameplan, let his players play, and ultimately, the Saints took control of the game.
Here at HCR, we grade each head coach on game-planning, in-game adjustments, clock management, personnel usage and play-calling. Payton excels at all, and while there are many promising coaches on the rise, Payton does not have many peers in these areas. We would be surprised if he does not grade out well again this year.
Previous HC Previews:
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
Steve Wilks, Arizona Cardinals
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers