Following the dramatic win over the Falcons, Head Coach Sean Payton talked with me and Bobby Hebert for our weekly Coaches Show on the New Orleans Saints Radio Network.
The Coach told us the upcoming matchup against Tampa is another extremely important early-season game.
"Well, it's a division game," Payton said. "When you look at the head-to-head matchups...a good example would be a year ago. Atlanta won 13 games in the regular season, and three of their losses came to Carolina, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay. So, any time you're playing someone in the division, especially on the road, it's going to be a challenge.
Payton told us the mid-September matchup in humid, hot Tampa requires some special preparations.
"When we looked at this game early in the schedule, you knew that it was also going to be a game where we're going to have to deal with some hot temperatures, and I'm sure we'll be in the black jerseys. So, we'll have to make sure we're ready to rotate guys in there, handle the heat, make sure we're hydrated and prepared...but certainly this is a challenge for us.
And while he was pleased with the win over Atlanta, he said there is still lots to improve upon this week.
"When you have the chance to come in on Mondays and watch the tape, you see a lot of things, especially in week one. I mentioned this in the team meeting - The corrections we have to make here from week one, heading into next week...we're all kind of in a race to improve now, and quickly get things a lot of things cleaned up, in all three phases."
Coach said this weekend, some players will be seeing a lot more time than normal.
I also think in Week One, you're playing a lot of players maybe twice the amount of snaps they're used to playing. Fortunately for us, we had a good rotation going with some of the guys in the defensive line. A handful of DB's and corners played, same way offensively at the receiver position, the running back position...keeping guys fresh this early part of the year, it's going to be the case again this week in Tampa, on the road in some warm weather.
One of those key players on offense will again be Marques Colston, who set a team record for receptions in the win over Atlanta. Payton agreed with us that Colston, a member of the Class of 2006, has been the model of consistency for the Black and Gold.
"I think consistency is a great word to start with," Payton said. "It's hard to believe that he's on his eight season. That draft class was very important for us, and looking back on it now, it's a lot easier to evaluate three years, four years later...and now, here we are, the eight season removed from it. But, he's someone that's got exception hands, they're strong, inside and outside, both as a slot receiver....he's also very smart. He's one of those guys who knows all the positions, and he's been very durable and reliable. I think that consistency, when it pertains to the relationship he and Drew has, goes a long way."