The most difficult aspect of the path forward for the New Orleans Saints and coach Sean Payton is that there is no frame of reference to draw from. There is no manual, no one you can call and ask, "What do you do when your head coach is suspended for a year?"
First and foremost, the organization -- and more specifically owner Tom Benson -- has to determine whether it will stay with Sean Payton as the head coach in 2013, when the suspension is lifted. Payton has brought the Saints and the city of New Orleans a great deal of success, and because of that, it is hard to imagine that Benson would bail on Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis at this point. That being said, in the coming days, Payton, Loomis and Benson have to create a structure that will guide the Saints through next year. Keep in mind the Saints are expected to be a true title contender next season. The window for this type of success closes very quickly in this league, and I doubt Benson is willing to just dismiss this year as being lost. Especially when New Orleans just happens to be hosting Super Bowl XLVII in February.