After what we all witnessed Sunday night, it would be easy to compare the New Orleans Saints to the top-ranked LSU football team.
Much like Les Miles’ Tigers, who have made sidestepping potential distractions an art form, the Saints, more often than not, simply adjust and do what it takes to make the best of a bad situation when they come across one.
Take Sunday’s game with the Indianapolis Colts in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. After taking a 62-7 thumping from the Saints, the Colts would just as soon forget about it.
There was some concern among Saints’ fans that the leg injury that confined Sean Payton to the coaches’ booth high atop the Superdome would affect the workings of the NFL’s second-ranked offense, and perhaps the defense when you consider how active Payton is on the sideline.
At the forefront of their fears were Payton’s ability to radio the play call down to offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., who would then send it in to quarterback Drew Brees via the tiny speakers in his helmet.
It took all of 10 minutes of the first-quarter clock, however, to lay those concerns to rest when the Saints rolled to touchdowns on their first two possessions.
But they weren’t done.
That, of course, was the start of an avalanche of points Saints’ fans had never seen in New Orleans — unless, of course, they were around for a 62-7 loss at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 16, 1973, in old Tulane Stadium, the franchise’s worst loss ever.
What the crowd of 73,012 in the Superdome didn’t know was that Payton wasn’t calling the plays as the Saints piled on touchdown after touchdown en route to handing the Colts their worst loss in their history.
It was Carmichael, a trusted assistant coach who’s been around since Payton assembled his first staff in January 2006.
“Whenever there’s change, there’s uneasiness with everyone,” Payton said during his weekly Monday news conference. “ ‘There’s change, something’s different, how’s it going to go?’
“I think that is probably fairly normal for people that are avid fans that follow teams — when a player is not in the lineup, or there’s been a change at quarterback, or there’s a new player or a new coach — whenever there’s change in the middle of a season.”
“Fans are worried about everything. They’re worried about wearing the right cleats. They get uptight about everything,” defensive end Will Smith said. “We respect their opinions, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t pose (a problem) for the players and coaches.”
Smith said the players weren’t concerned — not on defense anyway, because Payton doesn’t deal with that side of the ball that much during the course of a game.
“We like him being on the sidelines, but we knew he wasn’t going to be here,” he said. “We had practice for the entire week. Everyone felt confident.”
Confident, not concerned.