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From the Coach's Office: Saints face challenge in NFC South race but Redskins come first

Despite coaching shakeup in New Orleans, Drew Brees has to play within himself to lead the Saints (Photo: Parker Waters).Despite coaching shakeup in New Orleans, Drew Brees has to play within himself to lead the Saints (Photo: Parker Waters).

If the New Orleans Saints win 12 games, every head coach in the league should take a 50 percent pay cut.

Yet interim head coach Aaron Kromer has to think of the Saints as his team.

There are three parts of any organization: The Program, The System and The People. You manage things; you lead people. The Program and The System are already in place and only have to be managed. How The People will be led is the question. You cannot lead as a "substitute teacher." Aaron Kromer has to be "The Man."

He may say, "I don't see it as an audition. I see it as a holdover. I am going to hold this thing over until Joe Vitt gets back. I am going to hold the fort." But Kromer better not feel that in his heart.

The odds are against the Saints winning the NFC South. In the 10 years that the NFC South has been in its present alignment, no one has repeated as champion. This division is really underrated. It is the only division in the league that has had every member win the division at least twice and also appeared in an NFC Championship Game.

Also, every member of the division has appeared in a Super Bowl, albeit that the Atlanta Falcons were in the NFC West when they were in the Super Bowl.

New Orleans has won three of the last six NFC South Division Championships, but not two in a row.

Winning over the course of a season is a one-game-at-a-time proposition, of course.

The Washington Redskins can beat the Saints.

The Saints cannot allow the Redskins to get off to a good start. Getting off quickly allows Washington to gain confidence and improve their play as they go along. That is how upsets happen.

Excitement in D.C. has grown with the drafting of quarterback Robert Griffin III. Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan and his son, Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, will bring Griffin along slowly. This will be especially true in the passing game. Griffin only attempted 31 passes in the preseason, less than half than his backup, fellow rookie Kirk Cousins.

It is imperative in the upbringing of a young QB that you avoid giving him what I call "brain damage" or BD. That is the state of so many things going through his mind that he cannot function. In this era of sensitivity to head injury it is important to note that BD is not physical impairment, but is mental in nature.

Something that increases the acquisition of BD is getting hit in the head while trying to read defenses downfield. The Shanahans will do all they can to keep pressure off RGIII.

I would expect Washington to look a lot like the Houston Texans did in week thre of preseason against the Saints. After all, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak of the Texans was Mike Shanahan's Offensive Coordinator in Denver. This is a quarterback-friendly system that does not totally depend on the signal caller's decision-making to move the ball.

This type of attack takes the ball off the line of scrimmage in both the run game and play action passing. The offense looks to manipulate the secondary coverage with their formations and horizontal movement in play action. It is somewhat dependent on the quarterback being able to move. This simplifies the QB's reads as he only has to read a portion of the coverage to find the right receiver.

Expect that and the shotgun zone read option. The 'Skins already use a zone blocking scheme in their running game, and it will not be difficult to implement an option game as a part of their base running attack.

Remember, even though the 'Skins only won five games last year, two of them were over the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. They also started last year 3-1 going into their bye week before collapsing to a 2-10 record post-break. The Washington Redskins will be prepared.

They are capable of beating the Saints. This is the NFL.

A brief note about Drew Brees: He must play within himself to be effective. He cannot go into the game with the weight of the team - and city - on his shoulders. Brees has to trust his ability and leadership to "let the game come to him." If he "tries," he can struggle. When he lets things happen, he is the best in the league.

The best of Brees is good enough. He does not have to do more.

Other thoughts from around the League:

Replacement Officials: I am more capable of being a Head Coach in the NFL than the replacement officials are of administering an NFL game. The league took the very best of the replacements at each position to assemble a crew to officiate the Wednesday night Cowboys-Giants game. The nationally televised games will get the best they have. What kind of quality should be expected in all of the other games?

Peyton Manning: I am not concerned about his neck or his arm; they are just fine. I am concerned about the relationship of his physical condition to his decision making. You can only be a great decision maker if you see or feel something and then can physically solve the problem. Has Peyton adjusted to his present physical state? He will look as good as ever much of the time in 2012 but will make small errors that he did not make before.

Rookie QBs: For the first time in the history of the league, there are five rookie quarterbacks starting for their teams in game one of the regular season. This says more about the status of quarterbacking in the NFL than it does the individual talents of all five.

 

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