Brian Allee-Walsh

Hey, Saints fans. The Super Bowl is the goal, but don’t get ahead of yourselves.

As Coach Sean Payton put his team through its final day of minicamp Thursday at the Saints practice facility, I watched and wondered what the 2019 season would bring, knowing full well the expectations in Who Dat Nation are running sky high.

Out of this world, in fact.

When the team reconvenes for the start of training camp in late July, it will do so with a singular purpose: To win Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Truth be told, the other 31 NFL teams probably will share a similar mindset at the outset of training camp but only eight or 10 teams possess the wherewithal to get it done. Several will have a puncher’s chance, and the rest will be jockeying for the top 15 spots in the 2020 draft.

It appears Saints officials have assembled a roster capable of winning it all, though the same was said in 2017 when the Minnesota Vikings scored an improbable walk-off victory in the divisional round and again last year when NFL officials unwittingly lent a helping hand to the NFC-champion Los Angeles Rams.

In both cases, we are reminded that not only must teams be good to win a Super Bowl, but there’s a lot of luck or karma or destiny involved.

So, as I watched Drew Brees and Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara and Cam Jordan and Marshon Lattimore wrap up their offseason work under a scorching morning sun, I wondered what tomorrow would bring for the Black and Gold.

A season for the ages or a third consecutive bitter disappointment.

Let’s be honest here: It is Super Bowl or Bust for the Saints. Anything short of playing for the Lombardi Trophy on the first Sunday of February will have to be viewed as a major disappointment, no matter what the reason. And that’s a good thing. It shows how far this franchise has come under the current regime with General Manager Mickey Loomis as the head of football operations.

It certainly beats the alternative — a string of 7-9 campaigns in 2012 and 2014 through 2016, for example, when rumors of Payton seeking greener pastures seemed to take on a life of their own.

At this point, I feel a need to temper Who Dat Nation’s enthusiasm, to offer fans some friendly advice and encourage everyone to slow down, take a deep breath and proceed with extreme caution. Need I remind that the NFL has a long, arduous season and anything can happen. And usually does.

Both good and bad.

By the way, as of Father’s Day Sunday, it’s 85 days until the Saints host the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football.

And yes, the Saints are early touchdown favorites.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.
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