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New Orleans Saints right where Sean Payton wants them

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; In less than a month, the New Orleans Saints' coach has somehow turned his top-seeded, once-unbeaten club into underdogs entering the NFC playoffs. Losers of three consecutive games after Sunday's ugly 23-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Saints are ...

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Old 01-04-2010, 11:47 AM   #1
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In less than a month, the New Orleans Saints' coach has somehow turned his top-seeded, once-unbeaten club into underdogs entering the NFC playoffs.
Losers of three consecutive games after Sunday's ugly 23-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Saints are right where Payton wants them as the postseason begins: doubted, distrusted and discounted.
It's a role they've thrived in throughout this remarkable season. It's exactly how they started the season, and they broke from the gates with a profound sense of urgency, reeling through their first 11 opponents with an almost spiteful vengeance.
Now the Saints enter the second season with similar motivational fuel.
Yes, they will skid into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak. But they'll also enter them with chips on their shoulders in the face of widespread criticism and skepticism.
"While the media and the fans may want to harp on us about the last three games, we are looking toward the future," linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. "We are not going to linger on the past three weeks. The fact of the matter is that we are the No. 1 seed, with home-field advantage, and we are excited about the future."
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Hailed as one of the NFL's best motivators, Payton learned from one of the all-time greats in Bill Parcells. He speaks fondly of how Parcells masterfully "created a crisis" when need be. That appears to be what Payton has done, albeit unintentionally.
In resting his regulars Sunday and flouting history, Payton has shrewdly managed to create perhaps the perfect end-of-season scenario. He knows his battered roster needed R and R more than another W at this critical point in the season.
That's why the Saints had almost as many regulars in civvies as they did in uniform Sunday. Nine regulars, including Pro Bowlers Drew Brees, Darren Sharper and Vilma, did not play. Several starters were pulled after a quarter of action. This was nothing more than a glorified scrimmage.
While giving his team what amounts to a much-needed three-week respite, Payton has simultaneously managed to provide them with a motivational edge. He's deftly turned a negative into a positive. And his team has bought into it.
"I know what we can do," running back Mike Bell said. "It is a loss and every game is important, but the end result is the most important thing. But I think when we go out and accomplish what we want to accomplish, this game is going to be irrelevant."
Others aren't so optimistic. Fox Sports analyst Brian Billick, who won Super Bowl XXXV as coach of the Baltimore Ravens, questioned Payton's strategy. He felt the Saints desperately needed some positive momentum after consecutive losses to Dallas and Tampa Bay in Weeks 15 and 16.
And there is evidence to support Billick's position.
Since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, 61 teams have entered the playoffs having won two or fewer of their last five games, according to Stats, Inc. And only one of those teams, the 2006 Indianapolis Colts, won the Super Bowl. But of the 47 NFL teams that entered the playoffs on five-game winning streaks since 1978, 10 have won the Super Bowl.
More ominous, no team that's lost three consecutive games to end a season has even advanced to the Super Bowl.
"If we don't win in the playoffs everybody's going to point to these last three weeks," right tackle Jon Stinchcomb said. "That's how we're going to be judged. If we go into the playoffs and win some ballgames, these last three weeks will be all but forgotten. If we go in and we stumble around and we don't play good football, then everybody's going to bring up these last three games and us not playing our best toward the end of the season."
Payton, though, is confident in his strategy.
"There is no data to suggest one way or the other," Payton said. "I'm more concerned about our team, and I think I've got a pretty good handle on this team. More and more each year, you see a lot of outside opinions, and we try to ignore those. ... I'm not really worried about what Brian (Billick) thinks."
With a less experienced and mature team, Payton might have adopted a different strategy, especially after seeing how poorly the Saints played against the Cowboys and Bucs. But he liked the way his veteran squad responded to the adversity. Players said their practices this week were the most physical and spirited they've been in weeks. Payton noted the extra time several players devoted to film study and classroom work.
Something tells me the Saints will feed off the controversy and criticism for the next two weeks. This collection of castoffs and misfits is uncomfortable in the favorite's role. They play best when challenged and doubted. That's why they hit a motivational wall after a 13-0 start and why they struggled to finish off the Bucs after racing to a 17-0 start. Conversely, it's why they rose to the challenge in showcase games against the Giants and Patriots.
"I like where we're at," Payton said. "We'll be ready."

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Old 01-04-2010, 12:02 PM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints right where Sean Payton wants them

I have a lot of faith in this team and Coach Payton. I am taking the three losses at the end of the season with a grain of salt. The team will be healthy and ready for the Cards or Packers when it comes time for kickoff. It's time to shake the haters off and get ready for the playoff run.
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Old 01-04-2010, 12:40 PM   #3
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Re: New Orleans Saints right where Sean Payton wants them

I couldn't agree more. Good read. It's almost like Payton has tapped into my brain and I am the one really running the team here.....scary! HAHA!
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:22 PM   #4
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Re: New Orleans Saints right where Sean Payton wants them

well good call johnnyrotten thats an awesome article,we need the rest of the black and gold to read this article. start a new thread to tell everyone to read this. for some reason i can't start a thread. i don't see the thread button
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Old 01-04-2010, 02:56 PM   #5
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Re: New Orleans Saints right where Sean Payton wants them

Excellent article. I agree. Sadly, those 3 loses probably means someone with even more loses will get Coach of the Year (probably Wade Phillips, Jerry Jones definitely has been flexing his checkbook around this seasons). But it's about the playoff wins. The Vikings and Cowgirls are both known for their overconfidence, so that's at least two teams I think we fair better against as Vegas underdogs. Let them think a 4 man rush will get to Brees. Let them think Bush is not return threat. Let them think Henderson and Meachem are back to dropping passes. Let them think they can burn our secondary for a long pass. And let them think they can run a delayed draw on 3rd and long. They'll find out in two weeks.


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