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Sean Payton outsmarts himself on left tackle decision

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

It certainly was clever of Sean Payton to call that surprise onside kick in the first half against the Panthers yesterday.

But the Saints coach outsmarted himself on a bigger decision, and it cost them a game they needed.

Giving rookie Terron Armstead his first NFL snaps on offense in a must-win game on the road against a 10-sack defensive end in the middle of a contract drive turned out to not work so well. Of course, when you stack up reasons why it didn’t and the stack is so high, you wonder why someone as intelligent as Payton didn’t see it too.

Armstead couldn’t block Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, and the disruption caused by the Panthers multiple blitzes and stunts kept the Saints from moving the ball during the time of the game when weather would have allowed passing.

We knew going in there were going to be some challenges, there always is at the position, though,” Payton said, via Katherine Terrell of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Granted, the guy Armstead replaced was awful last week. But Rams defensive end Robert Quinn didn’t abuse previous left tackle Charles Brown any worse than Hardy did Armstead, making the switch futile at best. (And for the record, Hardy didn’t have a sack on Brown earlier this month.)

Quarterback Drew Brees was a good solider, saying some of the six sacks he abasorbed were his fault for holding onto the ball too long. And it’s hard to fault Armstead, a third-round pick who had only been active four times this year. Armstead also had a pair of false starts, and was so bad they had to adjust their protection at halftime, keeping tight ends and fullbacks as cover just as the monsoon hit.

“I gave it everything I had,” Armstead said, adding he was “terribly upset” with the  way the game unfolded.

Others should be as well, at the fact a decision which was foolish on its face was made in the first place. Even if the switch was necessary, announcing it so early in the week just gave the Panthers time to draw a plan to confuse the rookie, and it worked to perfection.

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12 Responses to “Sean Payton outsmarts himself on left tackle decision”
  1. gg206 says: Dec 23, 2013 8:38 AM

    Peyton has a Mike Martz style arrogance sometimes where he thinks he’s the smartest mind in the room and his decisions and players will always work. Most of the time it works.. But every now and then backfires..

  2. bcfalcon says: Dec 23, 2013 8:50 AM

    As a falcon fan believe me i know how much an oline can determine a season (ugh). The saints really need some clarity at this position because even with Drew Brees’ lightning fast throws he’s been getting thrown around in the pocket the past few weeks. His blind side can’t be exposed like that especially with the competition they’ll possibly face in the playoffs (pending on whether they get there or not). Maybe Zach Streif can change to temporary left tackle?

  3. mcmccii says: Dec 23, 2013 9:08 AM

    He didn’t outsmart himself. He’s looking towards the future. The team has seen enough out of Charles Brown since 2011 to know what he is capable of, nothing.

    Armstead is the future of this team at LT. The real reason we lost is when Vaccarro went down, Harper had to cover. Same old story. Target Roman Harper in coverage and march down the field. Not to mention the piss poor play of Malcolm Jenkins all game long. They are both gone after this season. Harper should have been cut after the ’11 playoffs.

  4. skippynj says: Dec 23, 2013 9:39 AM

    I am so tired of saying “I can’t believe Malcolm Jenkins didn’t make that play”. He has no instincts for the game at all. he needs to be gone after this year. Can we also talk about Payton’s play calling? I love Sean but he gets to cute for his own good. Very frustrating day. Saints dominate and lose.

  5. sippindasyzurp says: Dec 23, 2013 9:40 AM

    We wouldnt even be talking about this today if the D didn’t disappear on the last drive and let Newton rip down the field in 30 seconds to score the go ahead TD.

  6. mrlaloosh says: Dec 23, 2013 9:44 AM

    Give Payton a break. You can’t expect smart moves when you only pay him $8,000,000 a year.
    EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR!

  7. realfootballfan says: Dec 23, 2013 9:55 AM

    Yea, the Panthers destroyed the Saint line last night. Whatever does happen, offensive tackle needs to be their top priority in the draft.

  8. buffalodiehard says: Dec 23, 2013 10:09 AM

    Target Roman Harper…light him up like a Roman candle.

  9. jonny42671 says: Dec 23, 2013 10:19 AM

    So sad …. Karma!! ASTERISK!!! Taints!!

  10. John Peltier says: Dec 23, 2013 11:20 AM

    2nd half showed promise.. this is a great move for next year, to give the rookie some seasoning. The bad part is, it’s a painful move for this year…..

    The Saints toughened up on the road yesterday, after finally showing some embarrassment a week ago. If last week’s thumping was the low point, is there enough time for Armstead to get his head in the game for the first round of the playoffs? Will they keep simplifying the game plan to give themselves a chance on the road?

  11. ilovefoolsball says: Dec 23, 2013 4:16 PM

    I agree he should’ve probably given Charlie Brown another shot and saved Armstead for next year’s offseason.
    Brown was slapping Hardy around in the first meeting making him look amateur.
    When you throw the rookie in there with no game experience you get what you got.

  12. tennsaint says: Dec 26, 2013 4:45 PM

    It seems we’ve said “Payton outsmarted himself” a few times this season.

    Why couldn’t we just get one first down in the final minutes? Then we wouldn’t be talking about Cam’s miracle finish. Ugh.

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