CINCINNATI OH - DECEMBER 05: Chris Ivory #29 of the New Orleans Saints runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on December 5 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. The Saints won 34-30. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Each time I have to write one of these I always try to do something different and unique to keep things interesting and fresh. Originally I was going to give it to Sean Payton this week, an unconventional choice since he didn't actually play in the game. But I'll be damned if Chris Ivory hasn't been tearing it up lately on the field and deserves to be mentioned in this post. So this week I'm going to give out two game balls. That's right! Two balls, right before your eyes and all for your reading enjoyment. How's that for shaking things up? Can you handle two huge balls this morning?
The real game ball has got to go to Chris Ivory. For the second week in a row he's up for nomination as the NFL's rookie of the week thanks to his performance against the Bengals. Go vote, people! Just in case you live in a cave, here is a statistical reminder of just how beastly Chris Ivory ran the ball on Sunday...
|vs CIN / 12.5.10||Rushing||Receiving|
Good week to be starting him on your fantasy football team. [pats self on back] After going quite a while without a touchdown, Ivory has scored five in the last three games. Grandmaster Wang said it himself: It's official. Chris Ivory is "The Guy." Deal with it.
It's obvious Payton is trusting Ivory and the running game more as of late, but how come he never gets used as a receiver on screen passes or coming out of the backfield? Ivory has only one reception, made in the game against Tampa Bay. But it went for 17 yards! Perhaps his hands really are an issue but I would love to see what else 'Tusk' can do.
As for Payton, I thought he did a superb job on Sunday, most notably the decision to run the fake snap and draw the Bengals offsides. Plus, it's his reputation as a wild man that helps sell the play. Payton is just crazy enough to go for the seven instead of three. And as mentioned earlier, I like what I'm seeing from his playcalling and his willingness to stick with the run.
He's also in the lead so far for my Most Improved award. Coach has successfully challenged six plays out of a possible eight so far this season, giving him a 75% success rate and making him top five in the league. To put that vast improvement in perspective, Payton has never eclipsed a 33.33% success rate the past three years and never the 50% mark as a head coach. Keep up the good work!
And lastly, I've got to tip my hat to Coach Payton for finally putting together two Saints winning seasons since Jim Mora in 1991-1992. And since it looks like the team will probably make the playoffs again this year, I'd also like to express my gratitude to him for avoiding a Super Bowl hangover, saving us fans all a lot of embarrassment/ridicule and not letting the Saints become yet another championship team to completely flop the following season.
And for letting us all enjoy this a little longer. It's a good time to be a Saints fan.