A "worst to first" turnaround in the NFC South has been remarkably commonplace since the division began play in 2002. The Atlanta Falcons are in the midst of running a reverse "first to worst." but not just in the NFC where they were the No. 1 seed a year ago at 13-3, but possibly in the entire NFL.
As the 8-2 Saints head to Atlanta, a 2-8 Falcon team reluctantly awaits them.
Atlanta has lost four straight by a combined score of 135 to 61. Their offensive line is in disarray as evidenced by Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recording three sacks in yesterday's beat-down of the birds.
Somehow, I think Rob Ryan will take notice of that.
In the 49ers' locker-room after yesterday's loss there were many comparisons of this year's Saints defense to last year's with the conclusion that there is no comparison. The Niners found last year's defense under Steve Spagnuolo to be pure vanilla. This year's has far more variety - a sort of Baskin Rob-Ryan's.
But it's not all scheme. The Saints new defensive play book could be called "grime and punishment." If you want to run the read option against it, Ryan hinted last week, prepare for your quarterback to get hit often and hard as the Bills' Thad Lewis was against the Saints.
Yesterday I don't recall Colin Kaepernick running the read option once.
As I recently heard an NFL analyst note, there are no old running quarterbacks in the NFL. The old quarterbacks in the NFL are those like Brees, Manning, and Brady who only do so as a last resort. Griffin, Wilson, and Kaepernick will get older, slower and more injury-prone as they get smarter.
So now it's on to Atlanta, where the Falcons' fickle fans may stay away in droves, allowing the "palace near Peachtree" to be turned into the Saints' dome away from home.
Perhaps in deference to such a short week with the game on Thursday, Rob Ryan didn't make his usual post-game appearance at Ms. Mae's - his favorite watering hole on Magazine Street - last night. Perhaps it was because a huge crowd of Saints fans and media were waiting, anticipating that he would. He would probably much prefer to see crowds, if he chooses to, in the pocket of Matt Ryan.
But if he had, Rob Ryan might have drunk this toast to his new team and its old fans:
"May the best of our past be the worst of our future" together.
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