Sean Payton balks at the idea that the Saints make some grand adjustments at halftime that allows New Orleans to take off in the second half.
He claims that there’s not enough time between the end of the first half and the beginning of the second to change anything on a large scale.
“Halftime is about 7 ½ minutes so you’re in (the locker room) and guys are getting something to drink, going to the bathroom and we talk amongst the coaches on a few things we want to hit on,” Payton said. “There may be a couple of important things, maybe not.”
But the past two games would belie the coach’s public proclamation.
The Saints (4-0) have produced on both sides of the ball after halftime in the past two games, gaining more yards while suffocating their opponent on defense.
Both games went from close contests to routs.
Against Arizona, the Saints gained just 14 more yards in the first half and had two fewer first downs in the first 30 minutes. Post mid-game break, New Orleans put up 262 more yards while allowing just 100 and posted 18 more first downs while giving up just five.
New Orleans outscored the Cardinals 17-0 in the second half.
A week later, on national TV, New Orleans was outgained by 20 yards while recording an 11-10 advantage in first downs. In the final 30 minutes, the Saints outscored the Dolphins 17-7 and outgained Miami by 154 yards and three first downs.
Something, in other words, is working after halftime.
“It is momentum,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “Coming out of halftime, our defense gets a three-and-out (against Miami). We get the ball in good field position, march down the field and score. The defense stops them again. We get good field position and go down and score.”
When the Saints have been their most successful, this has been the formula. In 2013, they’ve outscored opponents 50-21 in the second half. In 2012, New Orleans was outscored 222-203.
“I’ll tell you this – even more so than the game plan, he’s as good at making adjustments as anybody in the league,” right tackle Zach Strief said. “We get into that game and see how they’re going to play us and see who they’re going to try to take away and we adjust on the fly.
“It’s a testament to that coaching staff, coach Payton, the leader of that group, and Drew, who is prepared every week.”