The Who Dats were dancing in the streets

After New Orleans’ 23-17 opening week victory, here are several things I think I know:
• Bobby Hebert was dead-on on his post-game show: “When the Saints play the Falcons, whoever has the ball is last is either going to win or lose.” Well, yeah. What Bobby was saying as only he can, is that when the Saints play the Falcons, it always comes down to the last possession. Right here in the Deep South, we have one of the NFL’s best rivalries, one the fans of both teams appreciate, as well they should. N’Awlins was filled with Dirty Bird fans Sunday, just as Saints fans will invade Atlanta in November. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that that Thursday night game in November will go down to the last play as well.

• These were the best two teams in the NFC South. Atlanta has weapons galore, and so does New Orleans. The Saints won this one because the best player on the field, Drew Brees, made one more play than his counterpart, Matt Ryan, who is awfully good himself.

• Alabama fans roundly criticized a certain Jackson newspaper columnist years ago when he  wrote that Mark Ingram, the Heisman Trophy winner that year, was not only not the best player in the country but wasn’t the best running back at Alabama. I thought Trent Richardson was better then and still do. Ingram now is the third best running back on the Saints behind Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. It is almost like giving the other team a break when Sean Payton has Ingram in the game instead of Thomas or Sproles. Ingram doesn’t have the burst or other skills of either of the other two and Thomas has even become a better runner inside the tackles.

• The Saints were more aggressive defensively under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who looks more like an aging Grateful Deadhead than a football coach. In his case, looks are deceiving. The Saints got a pass rush on Matt Ryan, tackled better and rarely blew a pass coverage. Holding this Atlanta offense to 17 points won’t happen often.

• Safety Kenny Vaccaro, the Saints first round draft choice out of Texas, is a difference maker. He will help make Ryan a much better defensive coordinator.

• Sean Payton makes a difference. The Saints would have lost this game last year. I’m not talking about strategy or anything like that. I’m talking about his presence and the confidence he brings, which is reflected by his team.

• In all of professional sports, few cities identify with a sports franchise as much as New Orleans identifies with the Saints. I’m thinking Boston and the Red Sox, Green Bay and the Packers and St. Louis and the Cardinals. Everywhere you went in New Orleans this weekend, it was Who Dat Dis and Who Dat Dat. After the final gun Sunday, Saints fans poured out of the Superdome and taverns and were dancing in the streets. Literally, dancing in the streets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *