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Duncan Commentary: Saints make a statement in Week 1

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 7:38 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Saints’ 2021 season got off to a raucous start on Sunday with a shocking rout of the Green Bay Packers.

The 38-3 beatdown was stunning in its thoroughness. The Saints dominated from start to finish and handed NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers the worst loss of his career.

Afterward, Sean Payton told his team no other club in the NFL made a bigger statement in Week 1 than the Saints. For league rivals that hoped the Saints might decline after Drew Brees retired, well, it was a disappointing turn of events.

The Saints looked better than ever on Sunday. Considering the circumstances and the quality of the opponent, it was the best opening-game performance I’ve seen in 22 years covering the team. The Saints did just about everything well.

Having said that, a mild word of warning: It’s only one game. A lot can change in 7 days. Remember last season. The high of beating Tom Brady and the Bucs in Week 1 was quickly followed by the low of losing to the Raiders in Week 2.

The Saints can’t afford to eat the cheese … after beating, the Cheese Heads.

Still, it’s not too soon to draw some early conclusions.

The defense, which showed so much promise during the preseason, is now clearly the strength of this team. The Saints sit atop the league standings in both total defense and scoring defense, and with reinforcements on the way at cornerback and David Onyemata waiting to return from suspension, this group could be THE BEST of the Payton era.

Jameis Winston is going to be just fine at quarterback. He’s not going to throw five touchdown passes every week, but if he can just continue to make smart decisions in the pocket and some nifty plays with his legs, then these Saints can play with anybody.

And most important, Payton remains on top of his game. His game plan on Sunday was masterful, and the Saints executed it to perfection. They were a step ahead of the Packers all day long. Amazingly, Payton has now won games with four different Saints quarterbacks the past two-plus seasons. And he’s making it abundantly clear that the success New Orleans has had the past 15 years is about more than just No. 9.

The Packers – and the rest of the NFL, for that matter -- learned that lesson the hard way on Sunday.

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