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What We Learned: Saints Defense, Fans are Playoff Ready and Mike Nolan is a Gem

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The Saints and their fans are ready to host and roast any team that sets foot in the Dome in the first round of the playoffs.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

On an afternoon that saw the Saints offense again convert less than 50% of their 3rd downs (3-13), it was all about the defense holding down the fort with a significant assist from the fans.

There were rumblings from the game that the crowd was operating at about 105 decibels on the very first snap from scrimmage, as they played a major role in causing many of the pre-snap penalties that the Falcons suffered through.

Keep in mind, it’s not like the defense is a super healthy unit.

Down two leaders in Kenny Vaccaro and A.J. Klein, they successfully completed the prime objective of stopping Atlanta’s RB duo from wrecking the game, and they did it with a LB crew that would have been considered a weakness leading up to the rematch.

Manti Te’o and Craig Robertson are not known for their range or speed, and yet they both (Te’o definitely) consistently made plays for the Saints defense on Sunday.

There is only one person to thank for the performance of this LB crew, and the Saints found him doing radio prior to the season.

Mike “Suit and Tie” Nolan

It’s insane that a coach of his caliber was just sitting at home partaking in podcasts awaiting his next opportunity. I mean, c’mon man, he was a former head coach for Pete and Pete’s sake! Surely one of the more dysfunctional organizations (Browns) could have used his expertise? Alas, he ended up here with Sean Payton and Dennis Allen, effectively giving the Saints staff three head coaches for all intents and purposes, and what actually amounts to two on defense.

Combine the above with the dearth of talent and depth they’ve added since Jeff Ireland was hired as assistant GM, and you can see why the defense is the strength of this team and the main reason for the Saints making it back to the playoffs.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Fans have consistently asked if Sean Payton would have new wrinkles for Alvin Kamara leading up to the playoffs. I think him returning kicks is the added playoff boost people have been looking for.
  • Michael Thomas is providing shades of Joe Horn after catching the tear drop throw from Drew Brees. He gave the crowd a lil’ shoulder shimmy to celebrate the 1st down.
  • The refs still owe us seven first downs to make up for the first matchup against the Falcons. Of all the penalties called Sunday, only one resulted in a Saints 1st down. We’ll collect on those over the next three years, as big brother is obviously back for another run.
  • After beating the Falcons, the Saints are now averaging....drum roll please....28.3 Points Per Game :-D
  • Did anyone notice Taysom Hill lined up at slot WR for a single offensive snap?
  • Brandon Coleman’s hustle play to make the tackle on the INT segued into the Saints forcing a Devonta Freeman fumble to get the ball back to the offense. Without his effort, that’s a seven point swing.
  • Am I the only one who now “expects” the defense to make stops like the goal line stand vs. “hoping” the other team doesn’t score?
  • Drew Brees and Ted Ginn appear to be putting the finishing touches on their connection just in time for January football.

I’d like to personally thank every fan that was in attendance for the Falcons game as you guys were the real MVP. Heck of an early Christmas gift from you guys, and I couldn’t be more appreciative. After a three-year hiatus, the Saints are back in the playoffs and us Who Dat’s again have something to cheer for. However, it’s not over yet, as we still need to clinch the division, and the Buccaneers currently stand in our way. If this is Dirk Koetter’s last home game as the head coach of Tampa Bay, then let’s send him off in style with a good drumming that nets us the NFC South Division Champs trophy. Enjoy your week folks. Who Dat!