Blocked Kicks, Special Teams Have Been Catastrophic For Saints In 2016—Greg McMahon Needs To Be Fired, Now
The Saints have had three kicks blocked this season that have ultimately sealed their fate in heartbreaking losses.
Now, before I even begin to write this—FULL DISCLOSURE: I understand that football games don't come down to one play (blah, blah, blah), but what we've seen from the New Orleans Saints special teams is flat out atrocious.
Being sharp on special teams is especially important to the Saints given the fact that we don't really have a margin for error. With a quarterback that requires a hefty salary and that boatload of cash we spend in dead money due to terrible free agency moves, we simply can't afford to make stupid mistakes.
But I'm not here to talk about those things. I'm here to talk about the fact that our special teams play is literally costing us football games. If you throw out the spanking that Atlanta gave us, five of our six losses this season have been decided by a total of 15 points.
What's even more heartbreaking than that is the fact that three of those six losses were all but decided off of blocked kicks that were turned into points.
In Week 2, the Saints fell to the New York Giants 13-16. With a little more than two minutes to go before the half, they lined up for a 38-yard field goal. What should have been an easy three points was blocked, then scooped up and run back by the Giants for an easy seven point score.
Even if the Saints simply missed the field goal, they would have gotten out of New York with a 13-9 win.
Fast-forward to Week 10 for what may be the most heartbreaking loss of the season next to the Week 1 loss at home against the Raiders. Drew Brees hits Brandin Cooks with a miraculous touchdown pass to tie the game up with less than two minutes to play.
Just kick the extra point, keep the Broncos struggling offense and the game is ours, right?
Instead, the Broncos stuff the kick, then take it back for the two point conversion. To add to the drama, the Broncos player was almost certainly out of bounds (even the Broncos agree), but the final score stood and Denver snuck out of New Orleans with a 25-23 victory.
It didn't take long for the Saints terrible special teams play to rear its ugly head again, because just four days later in Carolina it would be deja vu all over again.
Even though Luke Kuechly's touchdown would be called back due to a block in the back, the botched special teams play would still result in a 10-point swing as the Panthers ended up taking advantage of the prime field position.
The Saints put together a solid comeback effort, but it wouldn't be enough as they fell to the Panthers 20-23 as time expired.
Again, I understand that games aren't decided on "one play" but to say that poor special teams play has been a thorn in the side of this Saints team would be an exaggerated understatement.
Beyond the blocked kicks that resulted in scores, at least two other PAT or field goal attempts have been tipped and our return game has been terrible, mishandling kicks, blowing assignments, and constantly putting the Saints in poor field position.
Early in the season, our Monday Morning Saints Rant specialist Kevin Foote insisted that special teams has been a huge underlying issue when it comes to the Saints woes, but Sean Payton refuses to fire him because they are personal friends.
Of course, with all the other glaring issues in the Saints organization, I sorta laughed the whole thing off—but ever since he said that, it's almost like the Saints are TRYING to show me that Foote was spot on.
The subject of Sean Payton's friendships hurting the team has been well documented in opinion pieces for years. An article from 2015 elaborates in detail.
Conversely, Sean Payton stubbornly hangs on to several assistant coaches who any observer from the outside looking in can clearly see have underperformed in their duties and need to be reassigned within the Staff or simply let go.
I just know that McMahon still has a job because he is Sean Payton’s pal; and likely would be UNEMPLOYED were that not so.
It's worth noting that a McMahon-led special teams did give us the Hartley kick that sent us to the Super Bowl back in the 2009 season, as well as the surprise on-side kick that helped us win our first championship in franchise history—but we simply cannot continue to hurt the team at the expense of nostalgia.
Again, I'm just a season ticket-holding, die-hard Saints fan—but do you agree that there needs to be an immediate change when it comes to our special teams coaching?