Some of you have wondered why we care about an injury situation that has no direct bearing on the action on the field. After all, Saints coach Sean Payton isn’t a player, so the broken leg that relegates him to the coaching booth shouldn’t be a factor when the Saints play, right?
It’s far more complicated than that, as ESPN’s Ed Werder explained it earlier in the hour on Sunday NFL Countdown. Quarterback Drew Brees spent roughly 20 minutes off camera explaining to Werder the “unique, symbiotic” relationship between Brees and Payton, and the manner in which the relationship has been disrupted by Payton’s absence from the sidelines.
When patrolling the sidelines, Payton assesses the feel and flow of the game. As Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune recently told PFT Live, Payton’s presence has an impact on the players.
And even though Brees and Payton can talk by phone between drives, Brees isn’t hearing Payton in his head between plays.
“There’s a reason Sean Payton is Sean Payton,” Brees said.
Payton didn’t need to be Payton when the Saints steamrolled the Colts two weeks ago, because the Saints encountered no adversity. But as the game against the Rams last weekend was slowly-but-surely falling apart, the Saints didn’t have Payton to scream out “what the hell’s going on out here,” or words to that effect.
That’s why one of the guys under the most pressure in the NFL this weekend is Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who’ll need to play the role of Payton as the Saints try to avoid being swept by the Buccaneers. With Payton expected to return to the sidelines after the bye, Vitt will need to step up next weekend, too, when the Saints go to Atlanta.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!