Jim Henderson appeared on the Eyewitness Morning News with Sally and Eric and touched on the following thoughts.
- A physical football game
You knew the way the Falcons play football that was the way it was going to be. They have two excellent running backs and had a third in Jerious Norwood who was hurt last week. They’ve got a veteran offensive line and the Saints really didn’t defend the run that well late last season and haven’t really made any improvements up front among the defensive tackles to defend it better this year, so you knew you were going to get a lot of Michael Turner, you knew you were going to get a lot of Jason Snelling and the Saints certainly did. Atlanta ran the ball 50 times yesterday and had time of possession lead of 45:50 to 27:15, I can never recall seeing that.
- Important win for Falcons
It was a huge game for Atlanta. As I said prior to the game, if they’re really going to be considered, perhaps the front runner to win the NFC South, or certainly to make the playoffs out of the NFC South, they had to make this rivalry more even on the road. Sean Payton was 7-1 against them. They had done so well against the Falcons in the Superdome of late. Mike Smith had never won there. This was a game the Falcons truly had to win to get the credibility that they seek as the potential division champion, so I think it meant a little more to them than it did to the Saints and I think the best team won yesterday.
- What to do about Hartley?
That’s going to be a really interesting question. You’ve seen the reports that John Carney will be brought in and they’ll probably look at some other kickers if for no other reason than to keep their ready list up to date, but this is always a tough call. There a lot of reasons that these guys are on the street. As I will say in my commentary tonight, I’d like to see Carney come back, but as the kicking consultant he was late last year. You look at a kicker like Garrett Hartley, a young kicker, these are the only guys who have people coaching them who have never played the position. So, I’d really like to see Carney as a kicking consultant, if you put him on the roster, it’s going to create some roster problems and we’ve been through that before in 2006 when we had Carney and Billy Cundiff kicking the long field goals and that never worked out very well, so it’s going to be a tough call.
He’d never missed inside of 30 yards – 5 of 5 – as a Saint. The hard part will be to keep his confidence. Every kicker goes through stuff like this for the most part and it’s up to the coach to make the very hard decision to ride it out or to have the turnstile roll again. You bring in a Martin Grammatica or the Olindo Mares of the world and they hit a couple of kicks for you and then they go flat and you go back to the scrap heap. Garrett Hartley’s a young kicker with a very strong leg and I think he’s very strong mentally.
- Saints problems had been masked by wins
The Saints had been living on borrowed time with the way they played against SF, they were out played really in many respects b y the Niners, they were certainly outplayed by the Falcons yesterday and a lot of things get overlooked in victory. They certainly won’t be overlooked now and the schedule gets quite a bit easier over the next four games and that’s going to help, but I’m really concerned about the Saints running game with Pierre Thomas. If you look at the depth of the Saints RB corps, there’s nothing behind him to speak of. Chris Ivory certainly didn’t look ready yet.