Honestly, I don't even know what to address first. Ironically enough, I think the most fitting way to start is by acknowledging that this is the beginning of the end. Sean Payton probably still has 14 games left to prove otherwise - seeing as I think there is too much mutual respect to cut ties with him midseason - but there's absolutely no reason to think those 14 games will play out any differently than 50 that came before them. In most cases, an embarrassing beatdown at the hands of the best coach in NFL history coming off of 10 days rest wouldn't serve as a soon-to-be vacant sign on the swinging door that will inevitable be hitting Sean Payton in the ass. This, however, isn't most cases.
What the Saints endured yesterday wasn't just a completely non-competitive loss. It was a completely non-competitive loss that highlighted damn near every flaw that's kept them from competing for the last three years and change. The listless effort on offense when it actually mattered. The laughably disorganized defense. The inexcusably self sabotaging penalties. Coaching decisions that were understandably desperate, but nonsensically and haphazardly called for. Sean Payton stepped on the field with a roster that was probably equally as talented as the injury plagued team that was on the other sideline, and - as they have done with so many lesser teams prior - they made them look like they were in a league of their own. Bill Belichick absolutely embarrassed someone that considers himself a protege and he did so on the road with just as many injuries on defense and issues on offense.
I know Sean Payton had to take some chances because his team was being outclassed in every form and facet. However - situationally speaking - dropping back 5 steps for what ended up being a throwaway on 3rd down when you know you're going for it on 4th down is only slightly less stupid than using that 4th down to launch a low percentage prayer to the player with the least trustworthy hands on the entire team. I mean, we are talking about a man that willfully backed his kicker up 5 yards while trying to draw the most well-coached team in sports offsides. In that sole instance it somewhat magically didn't end up hurting a team who certainly doesn't need its odds of becoming a punchline enhanced by its head coach's undeserved, irrational confidence. That said, it was just another example of Sean Payton being predictably unpredictable, and I mean that in the most negative way possible.
I know that Tom Brady intentionally threw an interception up for grabs because - unlike the defense he was going up against - he was more keen to the amount of people on the field than the officials. However, optically speaking, "causing" two turnovers on the same drive and having them both overturned by penalty is so, so Saints that I barely even blinked an eye. I say that to say this...0-2 was always a distinct possibility, but the way the New Orleans Saints organization has ended up here - for what feels like the 30th year in a row - is what has already made a tough early season schedule look impossible to overcome. The competition may be better this time around, but the Saints' level of preparedness and execution certainly isn't. Another summer spent preaching "fast start", and another September spent watching them trail from so far behind that you'd think Brandon Browner was in the locker room giving pregame pep talks.
It might not be time for one of the longest tenured coaches in the league to be relieved of his duties, but it's definitely time to start treating that outcome as inevitable. What Sean Payton brought to New Orleans in '06 can't possibly be overstated and we'll always have '09, but the fact of the matter is that his tenure will largely be looked back upon as a disappointment because of what he's failed to do since. I wouldn't even be mildly surprised if the franchise's inability to field a competent defense more than once a decade costs them the quarterback that made them relevant at year's end. I couldn't possibly muster up the gusto to blame Drew Brees if he wanted to join an organization that wasn't actively undercutting his opportunities to add another trophy to his case. This season - like so many before it - looks to have 7-9 written all over it, but Saints' fan should take what little enjoyment from it that they can because it will be the swan song for at least half of the most successful duo in franchise history. Even if that duo will ultimately have left much to be desired.