After Further Review: Five takes from Saints win over Falcons

After Further Review: Five takes from Saints win over Falcons
Saints now have won seven in a row. Derick E. Hingle/New Orleans Saints Pool Photo (Source: Derick E. Hingle)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Trust Sean Payton

Sean Payton knows his team more than anyone. More than me, you, ESPN, NFL Network or FOX Sports.

It’s fine to be skeptical of a decision but do so with the understanding that Payton is making those calls with the best interest of his team at heart.

The amount of people both nationally and locally that criticized the move to start Taysom Hill was somewhat expected. But what made those criticisms even more ridiculous were the theories why.

Some thought it was Hill’s contract. Others thought it was blind allegiance to a gadget player. Some were thinking that he has see what he has in Hill. There were even others who thought it was all a smokescreen and Jameis Winston was coming in after the first series.

All wrong.

The reason to start Taysom was far simpler than all of that. It’s week 11 of the NFL season. These games are too important to roll the dice on a wild card. The Saints needed to win. That trumps trying an experiment at quarterback. Payton felt like Hill gave the Saints the best chance to get that victory. That’s it.

Guess what? Payton was right.

Take Two: Taysom Hill delivers

He wasn’t perfect but overall Hill had a really good day in his first career start.

Two things really stood out about his effort: accuracy and patience. Both things that many were rightfully curious about.

He finished his day 18/23 for 233 yards. He could have had more had a touchdown bomb to Emmanuel Sanders not been called back for holding.

His accuracy really jumped out on the second level throws where he connected often with Michael Thomas on square ins, overs and digs.

From a patience standpoint, Hill allowed plays to develop instead of taking off and running at the first sign of trouble. One play in particular demonstrated this. Early in the second quarter, Hill faked a toss to his right then rolled left and waited an extra half second to let Thomas come free on the deep over. Hill then fired a strike downfield right as he took a hit.

Of course, he didn’t completely abandon his athleticism. He finished with ten carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. His first score was a designed run. His second was a pass play that was well covered. Hill made the right call to keep it and turn the corner and get into the end zone.

On the flip side, Hill has to get his fumbling under control. He’s put the ball on the turf too many times this season. He also skipped a throw to Emmanuel Sanders on a short out and under threw on a deep ball that Sanders fortunately was able to come back and catch.

Take Three: Defense Dominates once again

What an incredible stretch for this Saints defense. They were dominant Sunday yet again.

They didn’t allow a touchdown for the second time in three weeks., harassed Matt Ryan all game and sacked him eight times. Cam Jordan had three sacks. Trey Hendrickson and David Onyemata both had two, while DeMario Davis added one.

They also created two takeaways and once again didn’t allow a team to gain three hundred total yards. That’s incredibly difficult to do in today’s NFL. Teams aren’t even trying to run the ball against them. Over the last three games, teams have only attempted 43 rushes.

This is the defense many of us saw in training camp which is why we were all so puzzled with their play early in the season.

Regardless of the quarterback situation, this defense is going to make life difficult for any opponent they face.

Take Four: NFC Supremacy

At 8-2, the Saints are officially the top team in the NFC right now. It hasn’t always looked pretty but winning seven games in a row is not easy.

And the Saints keep on rolling, finding different ways to win each week.

They’re about to enter a tough stretch where they play three straight road games, which is tough for any team regardless of who the opponents are.

Take Five: Other Observations

  • About two minutes after his post game press conference, Sean Payton retweeted Roddy White’s criticism of the Saints. Name another head coach in the NFL that would do that. Frankly, it was awesome.
  • Kudos to Jameis Winston for being very engaged on the sideline through the game despite not getting the starting nod.
  • Still don’t understand the hate of Hill from some. He’s the ultimate team player, who’s literally done everything his team has asked him to do.
  • I asked Hill after the game if he listened to some of the harsh criticism of Payton’s decision to start him after the game. He gave a light laugh and said he didn’t. “Not to be rude or disrespectful in any way, I don’t pay attention to any of that stuff. I care about the opinions of those closest to me, my friends, my family, my teammates, my coaches. You get to this level, and you kind of have to have tunnel vision and do your thing.”
  • Welcome back, Michael Thomas. He had 9 catches for 12 targets for 104 yards Sunday. By far, it was his best game of the season.
  • Really like Latavius Murray’s role as a closer for this team.
  • Janoris Jenkins had one of his best games as a Saint.
  • The Saints are 4-0 in the NFC South.
  • The offensive line had a great day despite having a few in-game injuries.
  • Fullback Michael Burton is quietly becoming an asset in the Saints running game. With him leading the way on those power plays, it usually leads to success.

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