Coaching staff not getting enough credit for Saints’ run at perfection

Do you know why the Saints are currently 13-0 right now? No, it’s not because of their high-powered offense, Drew Brees or their remade defense. It’s not because of their outstanding receiving corps, Darren Sharper’s playmaking ability or a trio of running backs.

Actually, it’s because of all those things. But one thing that seems to be taking a backseat in the Saints’ run at perfection is their coaching staff, and I’m not only referring to coach of the year candidate Sean Payton either.

There were two plays in the Saints’ 26-23 victory over the Falcons in Week 14 that had more to do with coaching and less to do with the players on the field.

The first play came early in the third quarter when the Saints were up 16-9. The Falcons had been getting pressure on Brees by sending multiple defenders throughout the game, and with the Saints facing a 3rd and 19 from Atlanta’s 21-yard line, the Falcons decided to blitz a bevy of players in order to disrupt the play. But the Falcons played right into Payton’s play call, because Reggie Bush took a 21-yard screen pass into the end zone untouched.

The Saints have picked up 20-plus yard first downs threw the air before. Payton could have called a seven-step drop for Brees and allowed him to chuck it down field, which would have likely failed because the Falcons sent the house. Instead, Payton guessed right, knew the Falcons would blitz heavy and therefore the screen was a perfect play call.

The second play clinched the game for the Saints. The Falcons had dinked and dunked New Orleans all game by slipping running back Jason Snelling out of the backfield and underneath the Saints’ coverage. So when facing a 4th and 2 at the Saints’ 46 yard line with under a minute to play, Chris Redman eyed Snelling out of the backfield on a short passing play – a similar play that Atlanta had just picked up 18 yards on.

But instead of dropping his linebackers to help protect the middle of the field or shoot out to the gaps, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams kept his ‘backers in and keyed on Snelling. As a result, Jonathan Vilma dropped Snelling for just a one-yard gain and the Saints held on for the win.

Those two plays are just two small examples of the many great calls Payton and his coaching staff had made this season. Granted, Payton also gambled and failed on a fake field goal late in the game that could have cost the Saints in the end. But more times than not, Payton’s decision-making has been damn near perfect.

And soon, maybe the Saints will be too.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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