Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Spors Reporter
METAIRIE, La. – For much of the week heading into New Orleans’ game at Jacksonville, the focus in both cities was on how much the Jaguars ran the ball in the opening three weeks.
And then Jacksonville came out letting its gun-slinging rookie quarterback throw the ball around the field.
Jacksonville called seven straight passes on the Jaguars’ opening series and in the first half, running back Maurice Jones-Drew ran the ball only three times.
Neither plan worked – the Saints adjusted, eventually winning 23-10.
“I think conventional wisdom was that we were going to see a heavy dose of the runner,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “I’m sure they probably felt that we were preparing in that way as well and they wanted to see if this young quarterback could give them some plays.”
In all, Payton found plenty to be happy about a day after his team improved to 3-1, one of 13 teams above .500 heading into the second quarter of the season.
“I thought the time of possession yesterday was important,” Payton said. “Third downs again were important. And I thought in the second half defensively we had some key stops which were critical in this win.”
The Saints owned a 15-minute advantage in possession, ringing up 30 first downs to just 15 for Jacksonville.
While New Orleans was 7 of 14 on third down, the Saints allowed the Jaguars (1-3) to only 4 of 15 and 0-for-4 on fourth down.
And New Orleans gave up only 105 total yards in the second half, including three-and-outs on the first three series and five of the Jaguars’ six second-half possessions.
After beginning the season 0-1 with a 42-34 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Saints have reeled off three consecutive wins.
The Saints survived the challenge of playing a team most would say is below the Saints’ level. The next challenge is to do it all over again, getting motivated for a game at Carolina on Sunday.
In that regard, Payton believes his team is in good shape.
“The most important thing to us is to never lose sight of trying to deal in truths in the opponents we’re playing and the strengths and the weaknesses, what they’re going to see on tape, what we see on tape and then you fall back on the leadership and experience we have and that will to win,” Payton said.