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Why Does Saints Coach Sean Payton Own The Falcons?


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When Sean Payton was named the coach of the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons had a firm upper hand in this rivalry, which has heated up as the franchises both became competitive over the past decade.

The Saints and the Falcons are set to meet for the 90th time in the regular season at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons hold a 46-43 margin in the series, which has tightened as the Saints are 11-3 since Payton was hired.

Payton, along with general manager Mickey Loomis, have turned the Saints into a Super Bowl champ and perennial playoff contenders. While the Falcons have also enjoyed unprecedented success under coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, Payton’s teams have owned the series since 2008.

Payton’s record is 10-2 against the Falcons. He sat out the 2012 season for his suspension in relationship to the Bounty Gate scandal, and the teams split that season. Falcons coach Mike Smith’s record in the series is 3-9.

The Falcons also own a 1991 playoff victory over the Saints.

Most of the battles have been close, but Payton and the Saints have been able to regularly pull out close victories.

“He does a great job of getting us prepared,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. “He has a way of simplifying things and narrowing the focus for all of us so that we really focus on what’s important.”

Payton shared one of the reasons why the Saints have been so successful against the Falcons.

“We spend a ton of time working on the end of halves and the end of games,” Payton said.

Last season, the Falcons drove to the 3-yard line before being stifled in the final minute of the game. The Saints prevailed 23-17 after getting an interception with 43 seconds left.

The second game, with the Falcons out of the playoff picture, was hotly contested. However, the Saints prevailed 17-14.

“I can’t put my finger on it, but all I know is that with Sean Payton, I don’t really ever feel like they get out-coached,” said Bobby Hebert, a former quarterback who played for both teams and currently is a sports broadcaster in New Orleans.

“If you look at it since 2006, if you can find a game where he did get out-coached, I know that you can count them on one hand.”

For Payton, emphasizing the end of halves and the end of games just makes good football sense.

“Almost every week, you put on any one of the networks, and the games are kind of finishing all about the same time,” Payton said. “(In) most of them, someone has the ball and is on a drive to win or someone has the ball trying to secure a victory. That’s just how they end. These games around the league are always close and hard fought.”

He expects the battle with the Falcons on Sunday to hold to form.

“What has been real consistent has been the way these games have finished,” Payton said. “Regardless of record, regardless of home or away, it always seems to come down to a final possession, a final series.”

To add to the rivalry, several players have played for both teams, from Hebert to Morten Andersen to Joe Horn.

That will be case Sunday, as the Saints signed former Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton after the Falcons decided he no longer was a third-down player. The Falcons picked up former Saints special-teams player Courtney Roby.

Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson coached with the Falcons from 2001-06 and seems to relish beating his old team.

Roby points to Payton’s meticulous planning as one reason for the Saints marching to victory over the Falcons.

“They are very sound in what they do,” Roby said. “The routes, the schemes and the alignments. Sean always comes up with great game plans.”

After the plan is secure, Payton then ingrains them into the team.

“He’s always making sure they get enough repetitions to go over their routes and everything that they run,” Roby said. “He’s very meticulous.”

Payton spreads the credit to his assistant coaches.

“I think (putting together game plans) is something that we always have to pay attention to,” Payton said. “Where are the opportunities for us on third down? Who are the targets? Where are we trying to go with the football?”

The beauty of the preparation for Brees is that sometimes it arrives in a simplified form.

“If we don’t do anything this game, but one thing, let’s make sure that we do this and it will give us the best chance to win,” Brees said. “He has a way of simplifying things and narrowing the focus for all of us so that we really focus on what’s important.”

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has to study and prepare for Payton’s offenses.

“Two things come to mind,” Nolan said. “They are very multiple, and they have very good tempo. Those are the two things that I think stand out the most about Sean’s offense. He’s got really good players doing it.”

Roby will play on special teams against the Saints and looks forward to facing his old team.

“It’s always a great game, a great rivalry,” Roby said.

Edited by Quarterback
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Yea. Fits like a safety being taken off the board because the refs "felt" Brees didn't mean to run this far. Lol

Or when saints db ran through roddy so saints safety could get int for td. Lol

These are being out coached.......

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As much as I despise Payton, I have to give him credit on being one of the best calculating minds in the NFL today.

He is much more willing to take risks than Smitty is. Payton will also continue to run up the score on opponents(Pete Carrol does the same), while Smitty is old school in believing in the code of ethical sportsmanship when beating opponents and just try to sit on leads. Trying to sit on leads has cost the Falcons some important games because the defense has never had a good pass rush under the current regime to stop any offenses when it matters, so that needs to stop this season.

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This is why.... Payton is an offensive-minded coach, therefore, he's going to be very involved with the offense. The offense is the strength of this team, and as long as he coaches there, it will remain the strength of this team. He's very creative with his playcalling, ****, Nolan hired him and McCarthy in San Francisco! Two of the greatest offensive minds in this era! Anyway, Sean will make sure the offense is in tip-top shape week after week.

Smitty is an defensive-minded coach, therefore, he's going to be very involved with the defense. He would rather have an offense that complements the defense (Smitty loves the run game doesn't he?). He would rather open the pass game with the run than the run game with the pass. He wants this to be a run first team. Thing is, Matt Ryan came in and set the league on fire... Another thing is, he has no clue how to coach a team without a good defense. Us falling short in the playoffs is the result of Smitty having no clue how to play to the strengths of a great QB. He would rather play smash-mouth football. Now, Smitty is beginning to put a defense and a run game together again. After hiring Nolan and addressing the lightweight defensive personnel problems the last couple of drafts, Smitty is starting to put together a team that matches his schematic identity. When you add to the fact that we have an Elite QB and a growing O-line, you have the makings of a real Super Bowl contender, not an over-achiever that falls hard in the playoffs.

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I don't think Sean owns Smith. If they were blowout games I would see it differently. But it really comes down to player execution. Close losses and if you've watch the games you'd see that they pretty much come down to the wire and the players just not closing the deal. We have been in position to win many of those games.

Just my opinion...the players did not execute.

Edited by nomak
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