Sean Payton has always been arguably the league’s best play-caller. I would take him No. 1 in that category.
But it’s time he gets more credit for simply being a heck of a coach. This season is a prime example.
When Drew Brees went out in Week 2 with a thumb injury, an injury that was expected to keep him out six weeks, the hope was that the Saints could fight through a tough schedule with two or three victories until he got back.
They’re 3-0 since.
A lot of that credit will go to backup Teddy Bridgewater – who was outstanding against Tampa Bay Sunday with four touchdown passes – but most of it should go to Payton. He knows exactly how to get his team ready to play in these types of situations.
If the season ended today, he would be my Coach of the Year. The Saints are 4-1 and they have ripped off the three straight victories without Brees to climb to third in my Power Rankings this week.
The Niners stayed unbeaten by beating up on the Browns and there’s a lot to go over. John Breech, Sean Wagner-McGough and Jared Dubin break down what it means, rank coaches on the hot seat and more on the Pick Six Podcast, listen in the player below and subscribe here for daily NFL goodness.
Payton has always been known as a coach who has used countless gimmicks to motivate his teams, like burying artifacts from a previous season on a practice field to make it go away, to having a baseball bat in the locker room.
This year, it’s just straight coaching. That’s why the Saints are maneuvering through the Brees-less time with an impressive winning streak. Payton has matured as a coach and a person. You can sense it when you talk to him. Once a fiery, combative coach – even with the media – he’s now much more docile than he used to be.
Some of that comes with winning a Super Bowl, but this is more about his changing style — and it’s working.
The Saints are one of the best early-season stories so far and Payton is showing he can coach the heck out of a team even without his star quarterback.