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Mickles: Loss doesn’t sit well with Payton

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; By SHELDON MICKLES Advocate sportswriter Published: Aug 7, 2007 JACKSON, Miss. — If New Orleans Saints fans finally learned anything about preseason games last year, the team’s first under coach Sean Payton, it’s that you don’t have to win all ...

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Old 08-07-2007, 10:37 PM   #1
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Cool Mickles: Loss doesn’t sit well with Payton

By SHELDON MICKLES
Advocate sportswriter
Published: Aug 7, 2007


JACKSON, Miss. — If New Orleans Saints fans finally learned anything about preseason games last year, the team’s first under coach Sean Payton, it’s that you don’t have to win all of them to have a successful season.

The Saints looked every bit like a 1-3 team in the preseason, but turned that around when it counted. They started the regular season 3-1, improved to 5-1 and went on to win the NFC South title with a 10-6 mark. After an awful-looking preseason, they wound up one win shy of Super Bowl XLI.

While the Saints proved the end result in meaningless exhibition games in August is not a true indicator of how a team is going to play in the fall — and the playoffs — Payton still wants his team to be competitive.

The Saints certainly were not in their preseason opener on Sunday night, looking every bit like a tired team that had been through 16 practices in nine days before dropping a 20-7 decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame game.

Which is why Payton will likely be a man on a mission when the Saints, who had the day off after returning to Millsaps College in the wee hours of Monday morning, get back on the practice field this morning.

They’ll need the rest considering the Saints will work twice today and Wednesday and once Thursday before facing the Buffalo Bills in the Superdome on Friday night.

You can bet Payton won’t be concerned with the outcome of that game as well. What he’ll be looking for is the fire and intensity his team played with last season, the things they lacked Sunday night.

While it would have been easy to explain away their listless effort, considering how they have worked beneath a broiling Mississippi sun for more than a week, Payton was having none of it.

“There is no other way to spin this, we were sloppy and sluggish,” Payton said. “I have to do a better job of getting us ready to play and we all have to do a better job. We have to get better in all three phases of the game.”

That was evident although the Saints did have one shining moment on the opening kickoff.

Newcomer Olindo Mare drilled the ball into the end zone for a touchback, which is one of the reasons the Saints acquired him from the Miami Dolphins.

But it was all downhill after that. The Steelers dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage, leaving the Saints to think about what kind of hellish week it’s going to be — with the temperatures expected to hit 97 degrees today with a heat index of up to 110 possible.

The only positive is that it’ll be a short week thanks to the game being televised nationally by CBS.

“I can point to 15 things here,” Payton said of areas his team needs to work on. “That’s the thing that was disappointing. I’ve got to do a better job. Our staff has got to do a better job, and that’s really all you can say about it.”

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