New Orleans Saints' potential may lie more in their intelligence
The 2011 New Orleans Saints are still in the chrysalis stage of development. Thirteen games remain, including today's sneaky-tough one against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Everbank Field.
Against the Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints offensive lineman Brian de la Puente was thrust into the game at center. He handled the mental load without a hitch despite spending almost all of his practice time at guard.
There's so much football to play, this team could wind up being the best or worst team in Sean Payton's tenure. Who knows? A lifetime of football remains.
But three games in, an identity already has been formed.
Collectively, no Saints team in memory has been this unassuming, this laid-back, this cerebral.
In training camp, Saints Coach Sean Payton said he loved the makeup of the players on his roster, but cautioned that they still needed to transform into a team.
Slowly but surely, they're getting there. The furious second-half rallies against Green Bay and Houston reveal an inherent mental toughness.
The emotional come-from-behind win against the Texans was reminiscent of 2009. The Saints had every reason to lose -- injuries, unlucky bounces, an early double-digit deficit. Yet, somehow they overcame it all and won going away. As Payton said afterward, you can't just chalk it up to "dumb luck."
Indeed, there's nothing dumb about these Saints. Not saying it's a Mensa society, but player for player, this might be Payton's smartest team yet, and that's significant, considering the value he and the front office place on intelligence in player procurement.
Football remains a contest of physical dominance. As Bobby Bowden used to say, if the game were all about discipline, intelligence and toughness, Army and Navy would win the national title every year.
Yet, as the sophistication of the game increases, football is becoming more about brains and less about brawn. And in this area, the Saints rank among the NFL's best.
Their collective IQ manifests itself in various ways.
For one, the Saints rarely commit mental blunders. They've been penalized just 14 times for 82 yards. Only Washington (10) has been penalized fewer times for less yards.
Most of the key players know multiple positions. They can switch seamlessly from one spot to the other without a hiccup, sometimes under duress.
When Martez Wilson went down with an injury in the first quarter against the Texans, Scott Shanle switched mid-game from weakside linebacker to strongside linebacker without missing a beat.
A short time later, Brian de la Puente was thrust into the game at center. He handled the mental load without a hitch despite spending almost all of his practice time at guard.
When Jon Vilma went down with an injury two weeks ago, Jo-Lonn Dunbar moved seamlessly from strongside to middle linebacker and promptly led the team in tackles against Houston.
Receivers Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore have alternated reps at the various receiver spots in the absence of Marques Colston. Each knows the responsibilities of all three positions: flanker, split end and slot receiver. This versatility makes the Saints infinitely more difficult to defend.
God, I love my Saints:)
Drew is making more poor throws in the past 2 games (4 ints) & Graham (while a BEAST!!) is young & ****y & reminds me A LOT of a young (but better) Jeremy Shocky
So we have won 3 of 4. Colston does not fumble in the GB & we have a chance to win 4 of 4
SHanle is making a bucket of stupid penalties.
The patchwork "O" line was good (great for rushing but 3 sacks of Drew is too many!!)
The "D" did not give up a lot of big plays & kept everything in front of them, so...
We are good - don't let it go to our heads!!
Brees has 4 interceptions in 3 games; Brady threw as many interceptons (4) in one game, as he did all of last year.
Yeah, we're good but we are also developing and getting better. I see improvement week to week.
It's been said before..........you can't fix stupid! :cool: The harder you work the better you get. If you have talent and a desire for knowledge(Drew Brees) you'll get to the top.
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