I love being the smartest member of the Who Dat Nation.
For the past three years, Sean Payton has constantly said the Saints “know the formula” to winning, but they never put it into action. For the past three years, it appears I knew something Sean Payton didn’t.
Before the season began I wrote a column about whether or not the Saints could win (meaning playoffs), which I believed they could. I thought they wouldn’t do it though because of stubbornness and arrogance. However, they sit at 5-2 and they actually look like a damn good football team.
Maybe my constant tweeting of #FireSeanPayton did something. I don’t know. I do know I was ready to chop the head off of the New Orleans Saints, meaning Sean Payton, after their 0-2 start to the season.
Five straight wins have obviously hindered that. I have never said Sean Payton is a bad coach. I think there just comes a point where your time runs its course as a head coach for a franchise. I thought that time was now with Sean Payton because no one typically survives three straight losing seasons. In fact, no coach in Saints history has.
Maybe I was wrong there about Payton’s arrogance. I hope they keep the mojo going. It appears they actually give a shit about winning games and not throwing for a million yards.
I said before the season that the Saints needed to go back to a balanced offensive attack. All they seemed to care about the last few years is getting yards through the air despite having one of the league’s best run blocking offensive lines. They were ranked fifth according to Pro Football Focus last year.
The problem with Payton is he becomes too reliant on the pass. I understand you have Drew Brees, but sorry he is no Aaron Rodgers (who clearly comes from another galaxy). You can’t throw it 40+ times and expect to win the majority of your games when you are not keeping teams committed to the run. Like most quarterbacks who are human and inhabitants of planet Earth, Brees is at his best when he has a running game to throw behind.
By staying committed to the run, you control the clock and keep Brees on the field longer. You can also minimize how bad your defense is. You can mask their deficiencies. However, the Saints defense appears to be pretty damn good this year compared to most. At least that is what I keep hearing. Think again…
Really? They are in the bottom 10 in total yards given up. They are middle of the pack in sacks and turnovers. They are 28th in 3rd down efficiency. Yeah, really good defense. Sounds like a pedestrian defense to me. The problem is we have seen dog shit over the last few years…actually, whatever is 10 feet below dog shit. That is what they were.
You know why they seem to be better? They aren’t on the damn field as much. They are masking their deficiencies. They have come up big in some games like Chicago today, but let’s not pretend they are great.
I think it is a result of the Saints committing to the run and not allowing Brees to hit the 40 mark in passes but twice this year. One of the games he did, the Saints were getting mauled by the Patriots and forced to abandon the run. Which contrary to popular belief doesn’t happen often.
Under Sean Payton, the Saints are a much better team when they run the football and the numbers say so…
- 79-17 when the Saints run the ball 25+ times (5-0 in 2017)
Now I know what you’re probably saying, the defense has been soooooo bad where the Saints have to pass to get back in the game. You’re fishing for something that doesn’t exist to defend Brees/Payton. You could not be more wrong.
- 17 – Number of Times the Saints have been down by 3 or more scores at half since 2006 (Patriots in 2017)
- Less than two games per season under Payton
We are talking about roughly 10% of the games under Sean Payton where the Saints are so far behind they have to abandon the run altogether. So save the shit for someone with a room temperature IQ. This also excludes 2012 when Payton was serving a suspension.
The other excuse I commonly hear is that the Saints can’t establish the run and so if it is not effective, you should just throw it. Yeah ok. Go back to cheese puffs and madden because this isn’t a fucking video game. Know what the defenses do when they know you won’t stay committed to the run? They play 6-7 yards off the line of scrimmage which is why Mark Ingram managed 5.0 yards per carry last season.
Running the ball will keep teams committed to your backs and therefore you open up the game for your QB. Guess what? I have a statistic for that too.
- 30-7 when the Saints run 25+ times and have less than 4.0 yards per carry (1-0 in 2017)
The normal response to this is, “oh but they are usually so far ahead in those games that they are trying to run the clock out.” Yeah also bullshit. But keep spewing.
Let’s look at the 30 wins since 06 and see just how much they dominated in those games.
2006 Wins (4-0)
- Cleveland 19-14, 3.8 ypc
- Philadelphia 27-24, 3.3 ypc
- Tampa Bay 31-14, 1.4 ypc (Dominated)
- Atlanta 31-13, 3.8 (Dominated)
2007 Wins (3-2)
- Seattle 28-17, 3.7 ypc (Put it on ice in 4th quarter)
- San Francisco 31-10, 3.8 ypc (Dominated)
- Carolina 31-6, 2.9 ypc (Dominated)
2008 Wins (6-2)
- Tampa Bay 24-20, 3.7 ypc
- San Francisco 31-17, 3.3 ypc (Dominated)
- Oakland 34-3, 3.3 ypc (Dominated)
- Kansas City 30-20, 3.7 ypc
- Green Bay 51-29, 3.8 ypc (Dominated)
- San Diego 37-32, 2.7
2009 Wins (2-0)
- New York Giants 48-27, 3.1 ypc (Dominated)
- Atlanta 26-23, 3.7
2010 Wins (2-0)
- Minnesota 14-9, 3.2 ypc
- Seattle 34-19, 3.9 ypc (Dominated)
2011 Wins (1-0)
- Carolina 30-27, 3.6 ypc
2013 Wins (4-0)
- Atlanta 23-17, 2.7 ypc
- Chicago 26-18, 2.2 ypc
- Buffalo 35-17, 3.0 ypc (Put it on ice late)
- Tampa Bay 42-17, 3.3 ypc (Dominated)
2014 Wins (3-1)
- Minnesota 20-9, 3.4 ypc
- Carolina 28-10, 2.8 ypc (put it on ice late in 4th)
- Chicago 31-15, 3.2 ypc (Dominated)
2015 Wins (2-2)
- Atlanta 31-21, 2.5 ypc
- Tampa Bay 24-17, 2.5 ypc
2016 Wins (2-0)
- San Diego 35-34, 2.4 ypc (Played from behind in 4th)
- Seattle 25-20, 3.5 ypc
2017 Wins (1-0)
- Miami 20-0, 3.1 ypc (Dominated)
Of the 30 wins mentioned here, 11 of them were dominated by the Saints. Let’s go ahead and take the dominant wins out of the equation, that still leaves you with a 19-7 record in close games when they stay committed. Furthermore of the seven losses in that record, only one of those games were decided more than one score. That was in 2007 against Tampa where the Saints were mauled 31-17.
The Saints currently are balancing the pass/run ratio at 66/44, a proven formula of success as indicated from previous seasons. Here are how those seasons stacked up when the Saints maintained a 60/40 split or better…
- 2006 – 10-6 (55/45)
- 2009- 13-3 (54/46)
- 2011- 13-3 (60/40)
- Overall- 36-12
Ironically enough, the three best seasons in Saints history. In 2006, they made it to their first NFC championship. In 2009, they captured their first Super Bowl. In 2011, despite being outed in the divisional round to San Francisco, that team was the best in Saints history in my opinion. That offense scored at will and that defense punched people in the mouth.
When someone tells me the Saints can’t or shouldn’t run the ball, don’t bring a knife to gun fight.
This is three years in the making of me screaming about this. While I was wrong on my prediction for the Saints and how they would do this season, I damn sure wasn’t wrong on how the Saints could win…if they decided to run the ball.
The Saints have been almost unbearable to watch the last three years because you know what they will do…play poor defense, throw themselves into deeper holes and lose games. This team is running the football, managing the clock and winning games.
Do I think they are a contender? Bank on it. I absolutely do. They are on a five game win streak and the schedule is favorable for them to possibly run the table or at worst maybe 11-5. The match ups I have circled are against the Rams and Bills. The divisional games are always match ups you have to account for. However, prior to the season I had them at 2-6, but right now they look like the best team in the division and it is not even close.
So yes, I do believe the Saints are a contender and are very much capable of a deep run if they stay balanced and ride Ingram and Kamara. It doesn’t have to come off Drew Brees throwing it 40+ times per game. This isn’t 2011 anymore. Stop trying to make fetch happen.
Maybe Sean Payton has some mojo left in the tank after all. Please keep running the damn ball this season and maybe you can salvage the last three years. At 5-2, if the Saints blow this and miss the playoffs, I will once again probably be the only writer in New Orleans screaming for the head of Sean Payton.