Saints coach Sean Payton is known as one of the boldest play callers in the NFL, a coach who runs a creative offensive system and isn’t afraid to take chances.
So what was he doing on the last play of the Saints’ loss to the Packers?
After a pass interference penalty set the Saints up with one more chance from the 1-yard line, with no time left on the clock, Payton had one play to call to give the Saints a shot at sending the game into overtime. And what did he call? The most obvious play you could imagine from the 1-yard line: A handoff up the middle to Mark Ingram.
The Packers’ defense saw the play coming a mile away, stuffed it, and celebrated their opening night victory.
Why not fake a handoff up the middle, have Drew Brees roll out and give him the option of passing to the tight end or running it into the end zone himself? Why not spread your wide receivers wide and force the Packers’ defense to spread out? If you’re going to run, why not a draw play for Darren Sproles?
Payton — the man who wasn’t afraid to call an onside kick to start the second half of the Super Bowl — decided to go with the plainest, most conventional call in his playbook with no time left. It didn’t make any sense.
And with that, the Saints are 0-1.