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Keys to Success: Ghost of Christmas Past Haunting Sean Payton as Saints prepare for Jets

The hiring of Mike Cerullo by the NFL has to be playing on Payton’s mental state, as he’s forced to deal with Bounty Gate residue leading up to this week’s game.


More often than not, a team takes on the personality of its head coach.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Ask around, and folks will tell you they’ve enjoyed seeing the “old” Sean Payton back this year. The fiery head coach who chews out officials, hi-fives players, and runs along the sidelines fist pumping after big scores like he’s the Ultimate Warrior has been quite a spectacle.

For a while, during the three consecutive 7-9 seasons, people wondered if that coach still existed.

It was widely assumed that Bounty Gate had sucked all of the oomph out of Payton, and the Saints had been left with a stale Doppelgänger imitating the coach who had become known for the phrase “Do Your Job”. Of course, trace those origins here.

Payton photobombing pictures and having fun has been a big boom, and to me, is one of the reasons this team is so successful. They are as happy and mentally stable as he’s been this year. Not getting too high or too low as the season progressed.

So naturally, the combination of last week’s game plus the news of Mike Cerullo’s hiring by the NFL has the makings of a grudge being reborn.

Put yourself in Payton’s shoes for a moment!

Seeing the guy that caused so much turmoil in a portion of your life only to be “rewarded” has to be like walking into your job and suddenly recognizing the person who caused your death in a past life.

Then you realize your boss just hired him to work with you...

Sean Payton rarely jumps on Twitter, but he made his feelings known publicly very quickly upon the news getting out.

For me, that suggests this next game will be somewhat of a release for Payton, and an emotional Sean is a motivated Sean. Much like the actual story, this particular ghost was not truly an enemy, but a way to push Payton forward by making him remember the past. Let’s take a look this weeks Key’s to Success.

Look Left - Throw Right

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Chunk plays could come at will as Drew Brees should be able to manipulate Marcus Mays and Jamal Adams to find holes in the Jets secondary. Both players are still learning on the fly, and Brees makes a masterful teacher. There is no doubt his skills have helped develop our own free safety in Marcus Williams, and I expect this offense to look a tick more explosive downfield than it has all season.

Pop Quiz

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been 10 days since you got to drive the Kamara. You go to the bodyshop and pick it up. Do you?

A. Be overly cautious on the way back home.

B. Throttle up a few times, but otherwise calmly enjoy the ride.

C. Already have a race set up where you plan to absolutely THROTTLE the competition.

If you chose C, then you my friend are a Bo$$. It’s the most important game of the year Brent, can’t hold anything back now, as there appears to be an opportunity for the Saints to spread the Jets out in this game early with Kamara and then close with Mark Ingram late. I absolutely think you unleash AK41 this week and let him go out there and play with no hesitancy or fear.

Petty Wop

John Munson | NJ Advance Media f

Kill the h— never mind. There’s a reason the Saints are so heavily favored in this game, and it’s because the Jets don’t have a legitimate QB. The only reason their team had been feisty to date was because of the play of Josh McCown. Insert Bryce Petty, and their prospects to come in the Superdome and lose by anything less than double-digits are slim. The entire Saints secondary should be making an ‘as healthy as it gets 15 weeks into the season’ appearance vs. Petty, and I expect it to be hard for him to move the ball through the air when he’s asked to. If he has to hold onto the ball, he’ll take a beating from Cam Jordan and company.

Player to watch vs. Jets - Willie Snead, WR

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

With Ted Ginn Jr. likely being limited on some basis due to his rib injury, it looks like the team suddenly now has a Need for Snead. According to the man himself, the offense evolved while he wasn’t around, and the front office didn’t want to tinker with what was working to that point. All systems appear to be go for Snead this week, as we may get a chance to see him featured more than he’s been to date. Perhaps his reappearance will coincide with the Saints improving their 3rd down efficiency, which sits at 38% — good for 18th in the league.

Random Thought I: It’s been 10 weeks since Brees had a three-touchown game. I suspect that streak will come to an end on Sunday.

Random Thought II: This is the game Kamara goes for 100 yards Rushing and 100 yards receiving to vault himself ahead in the RotY votes.

Random Thought III: Perhaps people will start giving Mark Ingram props after he goes for 1,000 yards again, which is something no one has done in back-to-back seasons since Deuce McAllister did from 2002-2004.

I’ll be honest people. It was hard getting up for this article as far as analysis, because it’s not really about if the Saints will win this week. It’s more about how dominant will they be. This game has the makings of another statement win as long as the Saints come out and execute. The offense should be able to pinball the Jets, as this isn’t a team that knows how to play from behind. If the Saints don’t beat themselves, then there is no way this is isn’t a double-digit blowout confidence booster before seeing the Falcons again on Christmas Eve. Enjoy the game folks, Who Dat!