Saints rolling with Payton back on the sidelines

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 23, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 08: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy during Super Bowl Champion Coach Press Conference at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center on February 8, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
For the Saints, it's as if 2012 never happened. After three games a year ago, they were 0-3 without coach Sean Payton and coming off an overtime home loss to Kansas City when they blew an 18-point second-half lead. With Payton back from his one-season bounty ban, New Orleans is 3-0 after a 31-7 rout of Arizona that resembled many of the games in Payton's best seasons. New Orleans also started 3-0 under Payton tenure in 2006, when the Saints reached the NFC championship game, and 2009, when they won the Super Bowl. Payton dismissed the comparisons Monday, saying it's the media's job to ''to reference all those things.'' But for the Saints, the coach says ''it's noise.'' He pointed out that Arizona ''was 4-0 last year at the start of the season and ended up firing a general manager and a head coach.'' While that might sound like typical Payton, it is one of the reasons the Saints believe they are off to a fast start. They say with Payton back, the distractions of last season are long gone and the intense focus and preparation have returned. ''He brings back that leadership, that ultimate decision-making power for the team,'' center Brian de la Puente said. ''You come in to each week knowing that we have the best plan possible. We know what and how and why we're going to do it and the reasons behind it.'' To get to 4-0, the Saints will have to beat the Miami Dolphins at the Superdome next Monday night in a matchup of two unbeaten teams. They like their chances if quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham and a resurgent defense continue to play the way they did against the Cardinals. Brees threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns against Arizona, also rushing for a score. Two of the scoring tosses went to Graham, who had nine receptions for 134 yards a week after catching 10 passes for 179 yards against Tampa Bay. The Saints defense allowed an 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game, then forced eight punts and had two interceptions on the Cardinals' next 10 possessions. A year after allowing an NFL-record 7,042 yards, the Saints ranked fifth in total defense, fifth in pass defense and sixth in scoring defense before the Monday night contest between Denver and Oakland. Payton's decision to replace former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo with Rob Ryan and switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme has worked wonders through three games. ''Any time you go into a situation where it's a new defensive coordinator that's installing a new defense, you always have the question of how you're prepared,'' said outside linebacker Parys Haralson, whom the Saints acquired in a traded with San Francisco in late August. ''Everybody was pretty confident in what they had, in what we have here. This is a defense full of talented players.'' The Saints still have plenty to work on, though. Payton abandoned the running game in the first half against Arizona, when New Orleans rushed four times for minus-6 yards. Brees was sacked four times, running his season total to 10. Just as Payton played down the 3-0 start, he sounded unconcerned about either deficiency. He attributing the lack of run calls to the five-man front Arizona presented and the sacks to the Cardinals' man-to-man coverage scheme. ''Sometimes it makes you hold the ball a half a count longer,'' he said. ''In other words, it is just a little bit different in the passing game and sometimes it can lead to a sack or two more. I think it varies on who we are playing.'' --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Adam Jones: Bengals dominated Steelers in playoff game

Robert Griffin III on QB battle: Only one of us runs 4.3

Gordon defends friendship with 'good friend' Manziel

Geno Smith ‘kind of pissed off’ about Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return

Bell admits he knew about missed drug test, lied to media

Report: Chargers rookie Joey Bosa to hold out of camp

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

Five NFL teams set to underachieve in 2016

WATCH: Belichick gets annoyed by Jimmy Garoppolo question

Ronda Rousey denies being pregnant despite rumor

Eight most overpaid offensive players in NFL

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker