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Tuesday Update

If the Saints are truly a competitive team, however, it will be because they diversified beyond their 2006 model, particularly in the passing game. The Saints were always in search of their next big play a season ago. This created an odd combination of deep throws and tricky formations hoping to create an exploitable mismatch. The seven-yard checkdown was definitely not a part of the offense unless it was an attempt to get the dynamic Reggie Bush an opportunity to make someone miss.

Sean Payton appears to come from the Mad Scientist line of offensive play-calling that concocts overly-complicated plays at every opportunity (see "Saunders, Al"). Seemingly every play has some sort of misdirection. A hand-off up the middle requires either a fake end around or at best a delayed draw. Brees has a designed pump fake on a number of routes, and the Saints seem incapable of just having their tight end go five yards downfield and make a catch in front of the linebackers.

Gadget plays are a useful part of any offense (just ask Pittsburgh). At the end of the day, however, execution, not trickery, will win far more games. With the Saints offense struggling, the problem is not a lack of creativity but a lack of patience. A few drives marching the ball methodically down the field is more important than drawing up the next big play. Teams are no longer fooled by the misdirection, and since opponents play constant zone, the option for the big play is reduced.

So let's hope this change is permanent. Or, at least, permanent-enough that it forces opposing defenses to adjust, allowing the Saints to exploit other weaknesses.