And some of that success has been a byproduct of the up-tempo, fast-paced system they run. Operating at optimal speed allows their offense to get - and stay - in a groove while keeping opponent defenses on their heels by disallowing them from substituting in desired personnel based on down and distance. But I don't remember ever seeing anyone put an actual number to it all.
Chase Stuart of FootballPerspective.com analyzed the speed of every NFL offense during the 2012 season and, not surprisingly, the Saints come in at No. 2 overall behind only the New England Patriots. Last year the Saints were able to run an offensive play every 26.1 seconds, on average.
Not only did that make them the second fastest offense in the NFL last year, their speed was also good enough to make them the second fastest offense of the last seven seasons among teams not from New England and the 15th fastest offense in the NFL for the past 22 years, straight up. Those are some pretty impressive rankings.
What blows my mind, however, is that they did this without the master mind of Payton. Their offense last year was significantly faster than any of the other Payton-led Saints teams from the past six seasons, including their Super Bowl championship season. So what caused the 2012 season to be so different?
Also very interesting is that a couple of past Saints teams had the notable distinction of running the slowest offense of the past 22 years...
At the bottom of the list were a couple of Saints teams, highlighted by the '92 version of the Dome Patrol. That team went 12-4, ranked 1st in points allowed, passing yards allowed, and net yards per pass allowed, and sent four linebackers to the Pro Bowl. But the team's offensive philosophy was to milk the clock, as the Saints ran just 895 plays that year.
Just a little something to think about this Monday morning. I'm interested to hear what you guys think about all this data.