Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If you take the time to read Gary Myers'
excellent book "Coaching Confidential," you'll find out that deposed New
Orleans coach Sean Payton developed quite the ego after winning Super Bowl
Payton, of course, was suspended for the entire 2012 season by the NFL for
his alleged cover-up of a bounty program which rewarded defenders for
deliberately attempting to knock opposing players out of games.
Plenty of others were caught up as well with then-defensive coordinator Gregg
Williams taking the hardest hit for doling out the funds for big hits, and
current Saints interim coach Joe Vitt having to sit out six games for his part
in the fiasco.
These days Payton spends most of his time at his home in the Dallas area,
serving as the offensive coordinator for his son Connor's sixth-grade team
while contemplating 2013.
It's safe to say Payton wasn't exactly happy watching his team implode on
Thursday night in Atlanta but if Myers' description of Payton is even mildly
accurate, it's also not hard to imagine a wry smile emanating from the coach,
secure in the knowledge New Orleans needs him to succeed.
The most puzzling part of the Falcons' 23-13 statement win on Thursday was the
play of Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who threw a career-high five
interceptions and saw his remarkable consecutive games streak with a touchdown
pass end at 54 games.
Universally regarded as one of the smartest signal-callers in the game, Brees
played like a raw rookie in the Georgia Dome, forcing the ball into coverage
time and time again, throwing across his body and mismanaging the clock.
His most egregious error came in the warnings second of the first half with
New Orleans trailing 17-7.
With just 45 seconds left to play before intermission and no timeouts
remaining, Brees hit scatback Darren Sproles for a 12-yards gain down to the
Atlanta 5-yard line.
Instead of spiking the ball or at least exhibiting a sense of urgency, Brees
had his team in a loose huddle and took the next snap with only 12 ticks
remaining. To make matters worse, the former MVP checked down in the middle of
the field to Sproles, who was tackled at the two as time expired.
A possible seven points and an almost assured three turned into nothing for
New Orleans as time expired.
If Mark Sanchez had done the same thing in New York or Michael Vick in
Philadelphia, it's safe to say they would be eviscerated today.
Heck if Andrew Luck, RG3 or any of the other rookie quarterbacks starting
did the same thing, journalists across the country would be scouring the
thesaurus for the best synonym for dumb and describing how -- insert team here
-- will never win the Super Bowl with a quarterback who can't handle something
Perhaps the real difference between Brees and most quarterbacks, besides the
four All-Pro nods and Super Bowl crown, is the way he handles a faux pas after
"Honestly I thought we had more time than we did," Brees said candidly. "Last
time I looked up at the clock I saw 17 seconds so I thought we had time to
throw one underneath and get up there and clock it. Unfortunately the clock
was down to seven by the time I looked back up at it after getting the
completion and it wasn't enough time to get a spike."
"That's my mistake. That can't happen. We've got points, at least three, and
definitely another shot at the end zone so that was on me. That can't happen."
Leadership is the most important intangible for any quarterback and Brees
never passes the buck or points at others.
"I felt like we managed the clock all the way down and then unfortunately once
we got inside the 10 just lost track of it," Brees said. "I thought I had more
Plenty of analysts believe the whole scenario would never have played out with
Payton in Brees' ear but that belief is an indirect indictment of the entire
Saints coaching staff.
After all, thinking no one on the New Orleans sideline is lucid enough to
understand something that's second nature to virtually anyone who has ever
played the game is ludicrous.
I'll stick with Occam's razor -- sometimes the simplest explanation is the
Brees had a bad night in Atlanta.
It happens to us all. It happens to Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Peyton
Manning and it happened to Joe Montana, John Elway and Dan Marino.
It happens to the great quarterbacks a whole lot less, though.
"I felt as good coming into this game as I have all season about the passing
game about throwing it," Brees said. "It doesn't really matter how (the
interceptions) happened though the responsibility is mine. I pride myself on
being a great decision maker and the guy that is going to help us win the game
and not be a detriment and turn the ball over like that."
At the risk of inflating Payton's ego even more we can all admit the Saints
need their head coach back to compete at the highest level again but not
because of what happened on Thursday night.
New Orleans needs the continuity Payton provides and his brilliant game
planning skills -- things that can help lessen the number of bad days not
"A couple of critical mistakes today ended up costing us the game and I'm okay
saying that because I have to hold myself accountable," Brees said. "I've made
some critical mistakes in the last few weeks and they have cost us dearly. I
felt like our team really played their butt off in all phases. Were there
mistakes made yes, but we played well enough to win."
The Sports Network