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NO TIME FOR CRYING: Saints Need to Regroup Quickly For Showdown vs. Patriots

For the New Orleans Saints during their season-opening loss at Minnesota the other night, the mistakes and missed assignments were plentiful.

In fact, you would have thought they were being committed by a junior varsity high school football team full of freshman players, instead of one of the League's 32 professional teams.

At times, they even committed egregious errors, such as having only 10 defensive players out on the field to began the first play from scrimmage with.

Did someone forget to tell the Saints that there are supposed to be 11 players per side?

After watching the tape of Monday Night's game, Payton said this to reporters yesterday at his day-after-the-game press conference, that he will conduct weekly throughout the season:

“It wasn’t a good tape,” Payton said. “I thought defensively, we struggled in coverage at times. For the early portion of the game, the penalties hurt in the first series. There was 30 yards (in penalties) in the first series that led to their game-tying field goal and then as the game wore on, I thought the explosive plays hurt us."

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

Then Payton addressed the errors such as the one mentioned above, and concurred with the idea that they aren't acceptable to anyone who has the expectations of seeing the Saints be successful this year despite Monday Night's loss.

“There were some MEs (mental errors), some poor decisions. Overall, not good enough. Offensively, I thought we struggled at times in protection, we weren’t consistent enough in the running game and the kicking game, the snap-hold-kick, all that was fairly smooth. I think there was one big play given up in the kick coverage unit and from a kick return standpoint, punt return standpoint, it was average at best.”

Payton's assessment about the "MEs" (mental errors) are correct: They definitely aren't good enough, but there's no time to dwell on them. You acknowledge them and then get them corrected either mentally or physically through practice, but then you move on.

And you move on because the Saints are on a "short week".

The Saints' home opener is this Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the defending World Champion New England Patriots (0-1) – who played their season opener last Thursday night and lost to Kansas City – in just 4 more days from now.

Which means (to borrow from an old-time sports cliché) that there's "no time for crying", regardless if you're a member of the Saints organization, or simply just a devoted fan of the team.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

This is the National Football League, where the 'big boys' play  – – the "best of the best".

Nobody in the NFL spends a whole lot of time worrying about the outcome of just 1 game, when there are 15 more still left to play.

The season doesn't end with only just one game played, and there will be a whole lot of changes to the NFC Playoff picture between now and then (early January): meaning that the Saints despite their poor performance at Minnesota, still have plenty to play for this season.

One loss to open the season did not put a sudden end to their year, but what it did do was expose just how quickly that the Saints need to get their act together and quickly, with the defending World Champions coming to town.

Payton told the assembled media that he and the team's coaching staff still must address Monday Night’s issues.

“We’re going to make sure we see this tape,” he said. “This isn’t one that we can just put away and then get on to New England. So that might be a little bit longer practice times (Wednesday) and/or Thursday."

“But there are enough things that we’ve got to clean up that we’ve got to see this before we get on (to New England). Obviously we’re planning and game-planning New England, but we can’t allow some of those mistakes to happen again.”

One thing that you can already be assured of: the Patriots are already focusing on the Saints, and have been since their loss to Kansas City at home, which has left them and their fan-base in just as much of an uproar as the Saints and their fans are experiencing after the loss to Minnesota.

The Patriots were beaten badly by the Chiefs last Thursday Night, by a score of 42-27, and they aren't happy about it. But just like the Saints must do after their loss to the Vikings, the Patriots have already put the loss to the Chiefs behind them – – and are ready to move on to the next game.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

As boston.com writer Nicole Yang observed yesterday, the Chiefs racked up 537 total yards against the Patriots on Thursday night, and New England’s defense came under fire for its apparent inability to effectively cover Kansas City’s offense.

During last Thursday Night's NFL 2017 regular season "Kickoff" game, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s squad gave up two scoring drives of 90 and 92 yards, along with a few catastrophic individual plays to their opponent’s wide receivers.

The Patriots' poor overall performance at certain times was so uncharacteristic of their team, that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick characterized the game as ”bad defense, bad coaching, bad playing, [and] bad football.”

Under Belicheck's directive, Patricia has been busy getting his unit prepared this week to face the Saints’ fast-paced offense at the Superdome; which is right where the Saints are hoping their home crowd can inspire them to a better performance than the one at Minnesota the other night.

In a conference call on Tuesday with Yang and other members of the Boston-area sports media, Patricia said this about facing the Saints on Sunday.

“We’re obviously gearing up here for the Saints. We’ve got a huge challenge in front of us, with some young guys playing, and going down to their place in that environment is going to be a huge challenge, too.”

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

"Coach Payton and Coach Carmichael do a great job of mixing and matching personnel groups in. We see it quite a bit week in week out from a lot of different offenses. I would say these guys do it quite a bit, so you’ll see different groups out there whether it’s multiple running backs in the game or different wide receivers."

"The mixing and matching of those skill players – occasionally they’ll throw an extra lineman in the game, the fullback. So the constant turning of that personnel is something they do an excellent job with and really have mastered the ability to kind of work in and out of those groups at a very quick pace."

"The pace of the offense there is very fast. They do a good job of getting in and out of the huddle. You know, then playing down there in their home stadium is where they’re going to be able to communicate the best so we’re going to have to do a great job of just really trying to get out there and play sound, play good fundamental defense."

"I think that’s what we’re trying to get done and we’re trying to obviously play a heck of a lot better than we did last week and just go out and try to make sure we’re more improving in those areas."

Patricia's comments are indicative of a team that despite its poor performance, has digested the loss, processed it mentally, addressed any fundamental issues that needed to be "cleaned up"; and has already moved on to preparations for the next week's opponent.

That's exactly what the Saints need to do, and you had better believe that is exactly what the Saints WILL do.

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

This is the NFL --- and there ain't "no time for crying".

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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