MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — We all know a coach can’t win the Super Bowl MVP. And we know this game is far from over. But if the Saints win, coach Sean Payton will have been a big part of the reason why.
This team has adopted Payton’s swagger and go-for-the-throat mentality, and never has it been more apparent than in this game. He made astute adjustments and went to a lot of jumbo packages, started having Drew Brees attack in 10- to 15-yard chunks against a stagnant Cover 2 defense and made a couple of gutsy moves that paid off.
Payton coupled an unsuccessful fourth-down attempt at the goal line late in the first half with an onside kick that the Saints recovered to start the second half. The Saints have been a step faster than the Colts since the first quarter, and Payton had Indianapolis reeling on the ensuing drive after the onside kick. He had Brees roll out once, threw out of a jumbo package, and when nothing was there, the QB, who’s having an MVP performance himself, gutted the Colts with checkdowns.
Pierre Thomas‘ shifty moves are leaving the Colts guessing, and with Indy’s defenders on the field so much, he might be able to keep running on them.
Few head coaches in this game directly influence a game like Payton does. His defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, gave the defense a similar swagger. So far, it’s reaping major rewards, with plenty of football still to be played.