The New Orleans Saints can count themselves very lucky to still be in with a shot of playing playoff football this season, with only a terrible NFC South keeping them in the running.
Sitting on a 5-8 record there is very little to get excited about at the Superdome and Sean Payton clearly knows it. The head coach this week ringing the changes as a much needed rebuild begins in earnest.
Heading for the exit
First for the chop was wide receiver Joe Morgan, the third-year player waived on Tuesday with speculation suggesting issues off the gridiron, as well as a lack of productivity on it, contributed to the decision.
Morgan - two weeks of the back of his most productive game in a Saints jersey vs the Baltimore Ravens - was suspended by the franchise earlier this season for an undisclosed reason and has, in recent times, been found in the "trouble-maker" category of NFL players.
The second decision is one that will raise a few more eyebrows. Talented safety Kenny Vaccaro has been dropped to the bench for the Saints crucial Week 15 game against the Chicago Bears. This is despite the fact that big money safety Jayrus Byrd is done for the season.
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The fact Vaccaro has made some big plays hasn't been enough to save his starting spot with the Saints defense on a whole one of the major issues in 2014. It is said the second-year player's overly aggressive style is partly behind the change of tact.
The atmosphere at the Saints this week has been described as "tense," and with Payton on the war path you can understand why.
As well as Morgan losing his job and Vaccaro losing his starting spot reports this week noted that no less than 10 players have been called into the head coach's office for individual reviews.
The Saints must win out in their remaining three games of the regular season if they are to sneak into the playoffs. Payton's moves this week will undoubtedly have been made to give his team the best chance of succeeding in that aim but it would also be foolish to ignore the fact that these moves are likely only the first of many as the team looks to bounce back in 2015.
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