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The Saints just can’t get over the hump

And now Drew Brees is in the final year of his contract.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints have been trying to lean on Drew Brees for about a decade. The result has been a Super Bowl—and a whole lot of nothing the past three seasons—mostly because they can’t put together even a remotely decent defense.

That’s leading to a few problems, as Drew Brees’ contract is set to expire after this season. The Saints are unlikely to let Brees walk, given how well he is still playing and how hard it is to find really good quarterbacks, but it’s making the need to find short-term solutions—to push for another Super Bowl while Brees is still playing—ever more urgent.

That push has resulted in a lot of free agent signings over the past five years or so. Every season, the Saints sign a few free agents that they hope will get them to the promised land. And every year that not only fails, but causes them to rack up massive future salary cap debts, and at some point they’re going to have to pay off those debts.

And yet, the Saints can’t get over the hump. At all. Because their defense is a clown show. Or, as SB Nation’s Jon Benne puts it:

There are some nice individual pieces, but it’s been years since the defense lived up to its on-paper talent, so let’s not put the cart in front of the horse. It’s time for defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to turn potential into actual results and to stop asking Brees to win every 41-38 game.

Yeah, good luck with that. There’s no real reason to believe the Saints defense is suddenly going to put it together this offseason, and the Saints really can’t push for a massive investment at any point in the near future because of their salary cap situation.

Which means that the Saints are once again looking at what they’ve produced the past three seasons: a good offense, a bad defense, and a 7-9 season.

Here’s my question: why is Sean Payton’s continued employment never questioned?