The New Orleans Saints got a great opening game victory this past weekend over the Atlanta Falcons, and it set the tone for the rest of the season. They knew what needed to be done and they went out and did it. Well, as of Sept. 10, 2013, others realized their work too and that is why the Saints moved up quite a bit in all of the major NFL Power Rankings.
At the beginning of the season, most of the major sports outlets had the Saints ranked rather low in their NFL Power Rankings. They weren't sure how the Saints would rebound after last year's debacle of a season, and they needed to see if Sean Payton would make a big difference.
Well, he did.
Another big difference came in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his revamped style. The Saints looked good on the defensive side of the ball for the first time in years and it made for a complete team overall.
FoxSports.com: The Saints moved up from 16th to 12th
More than any other professional league, coaching matters in the NFL and Sean Payton is proof of it. Rob Ryan is going to get a lot of credit for an improved defense, but Payton was the missing ingredient.
CBS - Pete Prisco: The Saints moved up from 11th to 5th
The Saints defense looks improved, which is the biggest thing to take from the opener. Drew Brees looked like his old self with Sean Payton back.
CBS - Pat Kirwan: The Saints moved up to 4th
When Sean Payton is back on the sidelines this team is just better. Rob Ryan's defense has been hit hard by injuries but still managed 3 sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception. A steady defense and an explosive offense is a dangerous combination.
ESPN: The Saints moved up from 13th to 8th
Matt Ryan was sacked three times in 15 drop-backs against at least five rushers in Week 1. Ryan wasn't sacked on 31 such drop-backs last year against New Orleans.
NFL.com: The Saints moved up from 18th to 7th
The defense performed in spots -- the most important spots -- versus the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, we're talking about Rob Ryan's injury-depleted defense -- you know, the group that allowed 454 points last year (most in the NFC) and finished last in 18 subcategories.
On Sunday, the key stat for New Orleans didn't have anything to do with Drew Brees. No, it was the 3-for-12 conversion rate that Ryan's defense allowed Atlanta on third and fourth downs.
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