FOX Sports- With the Saints down by five points to the Arizona Cardinals, and just one minute and 58 seconds remaining, they faced a fourth-and-6 from the 7-yard line. New Orleans obviously chose to punt, and two plays after that, running back David Johnson took a pass 55-yards to the end zone for the Cardinals to put the game away.
The question is, do Payton and Brees regret the decision? According to Mike Triplett of ESPN, both stand by the choice.
“There’s an aggressive side of you that wants to go for it,” Payton told ESPN. “[But] I think with the two timeouts and the situation that we had, two minutes, it’s something that we would normally do. I think most people would."
When asked about whether he pushed to go for it, Brees spoke on the topic.
“Yeah, that was a big discussion,” Brees said. “Hindsight, obviously, because they scored two plays later. But you know, you just feel like, ‘OK, here’s the scenario, we punt, we stop ‘em, use our timeouts, we get the ball back with 1:03, something like that.’ And you’re like, ‘OK, we like our chances there better than, all of a sudden if we miss that, then pretty much the game’s over.’"
You guys remember the 2009 Super Bowl? I can't recall his name, but there was this risk takin', hell raisin', son of a gun head coach that actually onside kicked to start the second half only down 4 points! I know, crazy right? I'm going to have to go back and do my research to find out who the mastermind behind that was. I thought it was Saints coach Sean Payton, but it certainly couldn't be the guy that essentially conceded a chance at a win in week 1 out of fear of going for it on 4th down at his own 7 yard line. Those definitely can't be the same people. If they are indeed one and the same then it appears that Sean Payton is the first transgendered coach in NFL history, because the dude USED TO have some balls. He USED TO stop at nothing, even conventional wisdom, to put the ball in hands of his future Hall of Fame quarterback with the game on the line. He USED TO be an offensive genius who led an offense that was nearly unstoppable. Now he's just a neutered coach of an average team whose creativity has deteriorated into running 30 different versions of the same screen pass, no matter what the down and distance. They might be the same person, but now Sean Payton is just somebody that I used to know.
There is no shame in losing to a tough Arizona Cardinals team on the road to start the season. There's not even shame in giving up 31 points to Carson Palmer while battling a rash of injuries to important players in the secondary. There is shame in what can only be described as a brutal performance in the red zone. There is shame in Sean Payton and Drew Brees heading a pedestrian offense. This team is young defensively and if they are going to endure the growing pains that come with that youth then they are going to need to continue to have the top 5 offense we are used to them having. The offensive line is rebuilt. There's no reason that the running game should be as fruitless as it was on Sunday. There's no reason the wide receivers should fail to get open down the field when Brees has a clean pocket to sit in. It's one thing to include your running backs in the passing game, but it's more than a cause for concern when your running backs ARE your passing game. This team needs to turn it around and turn it around quick, because if they prove that last year wasn't just an aberration then Sean Payton may be looking for another place to take his conservative (can't believe I am saying this) play calling come the end of the season. This team has had a lot of turnover, and faced an extremely difficult matchup to start the season, but the lack of positives to take away from that game as a Saints fan is definitely disconcerting. Hopefully, they can get back on track against Jameis Winston in week two, because if he can't cure an ailing defense than two disappointing seasons in a row would be but a certainty.
P.S. Someone is really going to have to explain to me how 4th and 6 on your 7 yard line with 1:58 left and two timeouts is a worse situation to be in than, if all goes as planned, having similar field position with 1:00 left and zero timeouts. At some point a big play was going to have to be made. Might as well try to do it when you still have time and timeouts play with. The way the offense was moving the ball on Sunday it was virtually an impossibility for them to go the length of the entire field for a touchdown in one minute with no way to stop the clock.