First-and-10: New Orleans Saints winning games by not beating themselves
After an eight-month hiatus, the First-and-10 column has returned. Here's the first installment for this season:
Ted Jackson/The Times-Picayune
New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton's mission was to make the Saints one of the 10 or 12 teams in the postseason mix every year.
First (take) ...
One way to win football games is to not lose them.
When Sean Payton took over the New Orleans Saints in 2006 one of his goals was to make the team an annual playoff contender.
His mission was to make the Saints one of the 10 or 12 teams in the postseason mix every year. He pointed to the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts as examples.
He wanted to make sure the Saints were no longer counted among the teams that beat themselves because of a lack of discipline, in-fighting or just plain incompetence.
Sure, the Saints were far from perfect in their opening win against the Minnesota Vikings. But look around the league and you'll see their teams with far worse issues after one week of play.
The New York Jets committed 14 penalties for 125 yards in an ugly home loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Dallas Cowboys botched a simple Hail Mary play before halftime and lost the game because of it.
The San Diego Chargers lost their opener while two of their best players watched from home as holdouts.
The San Francisco 49ers, among other things, couldn't relay their play calls from coaching booth to the sideline to the field during an embarrassing 31-6 loss to the Seahawks.
The Vikings had to adjust their opening week game plan to account for a rusty quarterback for the second consecutive season because he was allowed to skip most of training camp.
The Saints, meanwhile, did not commit a turnover and had only three penalties for 20 yards.
The Saints are going to win a lot of games this year simply by not losing them. After four decades of futility, that's a refreshing change for the club's long-suffering fans.
... And 10 (more observations)
1. Numbers game: In this new feature, I'll give you a little insight into the current roster and why Saints' players selected their jersey numbers. You'd be surprised how personal some guys are about their jersey numbers. We'll start right at the top. You know Drew Brees wears No. 9. You might not know he wears it because of his childhood hero, Ted Williams. The Splendid Splinter was Brees' favorite player as a standout Little Leaguer in Austin, Texas. "Baseball was my first love," said Brees, a standout infielder who planned to walk on the Purdue baseball team before choosing to concentrate on football after his freshman year. Brees is the sixth player in Saints history to don No. 9. In ranking the club's all-time No. 9s, Brees clearly heads the list, as he would any other jersey number. Here's how the Saints' No. 9s stack up: 1. Brees; 2. Jake Delhomme; 3. Tommy Kramer; 4. Happy Feller (a perennial member of the Saints' all-name team); 5. George Winslow.
2. Tweet of the week: "Who has less institutional control? USC- reggie bush/OJ Mayo scandal... OR... UF- 28 arrests since 2005? -- @HeathEvans, 11:45 a.m., Wednesday. The Saints have rallied around their chagrined running back. One of his fellow backs makes a very good point about the hypocrisy of major-college sports.
3. Quote of the week: "I don't think we're the team with the target on our backs. They're not gunning for us, we're gunning for them. We're the ones with the scope." - Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis to SI.com NFL columnist Don Banks.
Sean Payton isn't going to let his team down shift. He is going to keep the pedal to the metal. Over drive is ready to go.
Man we come along way...we used to be the Kings of beating ourselves...nice change
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