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.

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Michael Vick returns to Atlanta this week…not that anyone cares.

What’s great about the majority of sports fans (and maybe the American public in general) is that we have short attention spans. For weeks, a topic can be talked about and debated on sports blogs ad nauseum, then a few months later it’s almost like the situation never happened.

Take Michael Vick for example. He’s making his first trip back to Atlanta this week since tap dancing on many Falcons fans’ hearts by throwing his career away for a sick hobby and yet more people are searching for Tigers Woods’ alleged mistress than Vick’s Georgia Dome re-appearance.

This was someone who was talked about day in and day out over the offseason in regards to whether or not Roger Goodell would allow him back into the NFL. Then when he was reinstated, countless rumors circulated the web daily about where he’d end up.

But now, he’s a nobody – a backup who won’t see much playing time barring an injury to Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb. Vick’s been out of the public eye for so long that people forget that he’s even in the league. Considering he almost single-handedly sunk an entire franchise and used to bring 80,000 people to their feet every time he left the pocket (and many more sick to their stomach when reading what he did to those dogs in his backyard), one would think that people would be interested in his return.

But we’re not.

Consider this: Chris Redman will be more significant in Atlanta this weekend than Michael Vick, proving that if enough time passes, we’ll make anyone irrelevant.

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Falcons’ last-minute win over Bucs could be season defining

There are moments every NFL season that could be deemed as defining for playoff contenders.

The Falcons had one of those moments in Week 12.

Atlanta lost Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and two starting offensive linemen on Sunday, but found a way to come from behind in the closing minutes to knock off division rival Tampa Bay, 20-17. Chris Redman completed 23-of-41 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns while subbing for Ryan (who hurt his foot early in the first quarter and never returned), and also found Roddy White on a 4th and goal from the 5-yard line to lift Atlanta to victory.

Outside of two separate 18-yard runs by Turner and Jerious Norwood, the Falcons had no running game, which made things tougher on Redman. It also didn’t help that starting left tackle Sam Baker and starting right guard Harvey Dahl left the game due to injuries and the Bucs revved up the pressure. Tampa produced six sacks on the day and harassed Redman for the majority of the game.

But with the game on the line, Redman was excellent. With 2:30 left on the clock and zero timeouts, he led the Falcons 59 yards for the game-winning score by taking what the Bucs gave them and methodically marching down the field. On the crucial fourth down attempt, Redman threw a bullet to White, who made an incredible catch in between defenders to secure the catch.

The Falcons have a ton of injuries, can’t defend the pass, need a new kicker (Jason Elam is horrible) and have two daunting home games against the Eagles and Saints over the next two weeks, but if they can build off the momentum they seized today, then they’ll make the playoffs. One could argue that they should have beaten a bad Tampa team by more than three points at home. But considering they were playing with several backups (including Redman), the only thing that matters is that they produced a victory. And with winnable games against the Jets, Bills and Bucs down the stretch, if they can find a way to beat either the Eagles or Saints over the next two weeks then a 10-win season is a possibility.

Speaking of Tampa, Josh Freeman (20-of-29 for 250 yards, 2 TDs) played very well and the defense responded to Morris calling the plays for the first time this season. But Morris’ decision to attempt a long field goal late in the fourth quarter set the Falcons up with prime field position to mount their comeback. Had Morris decided to punt, the Falcons would have had to drive the length of the field with no timeouts. Hindsight is always 20/20, but the decision to attempt the field goal doomed the Bucs.

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