New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is back at work. Upon his return to the job, he had to put his crisis-management skills to work. The Saints continue to be riddled with negative issues that have caused significant concern within its fan base.
As a result, Loomis had little time to settle back into his routine Tuesday following his eight-game suspension in connection with the NFL's bounty probe of the Saints. Issue number one on his to do list is gaining a firm understanding of the status of Coach Sean Payton's contract extension through 2015, which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has refused to approve since Payton signed it in 2011.
Recently, there has been an increased level of discussion about Payton not being officially under contract beyond this season, which has only made Saints fans even more uncomfortable. The Saints have struggled this season while Payton has served his season-long bounty suspension. Many football analysts feel that Payton's time away from the game has actually increased his market value.
Meanwhile, linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith have used legal challenges to delay serving their own bounty suspensions. In the event that they ultimately have to serve suspensions, Loomis will have to develop a contingency plan to compensate for their absence from the field.
Loomis didn't respond to requests for comments on his return to work. He kept a fairly low profile on his first day back, and the organization didn't make him available to the media. Now that he's back for the second half of what has been an eventful season, Loomis does have the opportunity to develop and implement a plan that will not only address the team's issues this season, but for seasons to come.
The Saints are 3-5 and considered a long shot to make the playoffs. They will face their division rival Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in the Superdome. The Falcons are the undefeated NFC South Division leaders, boasting an 8-0 record. However, there is a greater sense of hope in New Orleans following their 28-13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. The Saints have now won three of their last four.
New Orleans still has a lot of offensive firepower that's capable of putting up big points. If they can get their defense to step up, they could find themselves in the postseason.