“There’s no 24-hour rule this week. We’ve got out of that (49ers) game, we won that game, it was a hard physical fight. ... We’re already breaking down film for Atlanta.” Cameron jordan Saints defensive end
Whether win or lose, by rule, Saints players and coaches give themselves 24 hours to bask in or rue the outcome of a game. Then, they begin preparing for the next week’s opponent.
But that’s not at all the case this week.
New Orleans’ 7:25 p.m. kickoff on the road Thursday against the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons is about 96 hours after Garrett Hartley’s last-second, 31-yard field goal vanquished the San Francisco 49ers 23-20 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday.
Therefore, by the time he spoke with reporters late Monday morning, Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said he and his teammates had moved on from a victory some fans were still toasting in barrooms and had started studying their materials on the Falcons.
Though they are a disappointing 2-8 this year and are allowing the fourth-most points per game in the NFL (29.2), the Falcons have played New Orleans close no matter the teams’ records. Eight of the past 11 games in the series have been decided on the last possession, though the Saints are 11-2 against the Falcons in the games Sean Payton has coached since 2006.
“There’s no 24-hour rule this week,” Jordan said. “We’ve got out of that (49ers) game, we won that game, it was a hard physical fight. We’re looking forward toward Thursday. We’re already breaking down film for Atlanta.”
Payton, usually vocal about the positives and negatives that surfaced on film the day after a game, was quiet after the 49ers game. He and his staff had reviewed only “snippets” of the San Francisco contest because they were too busy updating scouting reports that had been compiled for the Saints’ Week 1 game against the Falcons, a game New Orleans won 23-17 on a last-minute interception by Roman Harper from a pass tipped by rookie Kenny Vaccaro.
“(We) had our meeting already ... with our ... pro personnel team, and they (went) through (recent) injuries, recently who’s doing what” for Atlanta, Payton said. “Some of that has changed in the last 10 weeks.”
Since New Orleans met them in Week 1, Falcons starting outside linebacker Kroy Biermann, left tackle Sam Baker, fullback Bradie Ewing and wide receiver Julio Jones have all landed on season-ending injured reserve.
Joplo Bartu is filling in for Biermann. The Falcons moved Lamar Holmes from right to left tackle, and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Jeremy Trueblood is starting at right tackle.
Patrick DiMarco replaced Ewing, and Harry Douglas is filling in for Jones.
Bartu, Holmes and Douglas played different or reduced roles in their previous clash with New Orleans this season. Trueblood was inactive, and DiMarco wasn’t promoted from the practice squad until afterward.
For New Orleans, cornerback Jabari Greer suffered a year-ending knee injury Sunday after starting all 10 games this season. Vaccaro and No. 2 tight end Ben Watson missed the 49ers game with concussions.
“Someone you played already I think ... can make the (short week) for Atlanta as well as ourselves a little less hectic,” Payton said. Yet, “There have been some changes since Week 1 (for) ourselves and ... for Atlanta in regards to personnel.”
But the hardest part of the Saints’ condensed schedule this week is determining how to balance the need for players to physically recuperate with the need for them to quickly bone up on unfamiliar match-ups.
Wide receiver Robert Meachem, who accounted for the Saints’ two longest plays Sunday with catches of 44 and 41 yards while contributing his fair share of downfield blocking, said: “It’s going to be a challenge just to be rested and be mentally tough for this game.”
Meachem alluded to Atlanta’s efficiency at throwing the ball; They’re the NFL’s sixth-best passing offense, averaging 274.4 yards per game. He mentioned the Falcons’ respectable record of 35-10 at the Georgia Dome since 2008, though they’re 2-3 there this year.
“At home, they are tough to beat,” Meachem said.
Knowing that, at least one of Meachem’s teammates, linebacker David Hawthorne, eagerly undertook the task of mixing in some relaxation into preparations for the Falcons.
After playing 40 of the Saints’ 57 snaps on defense, making six solo tackles and assisting on two others in the win over the 49ers, Hawthorne logged onto his Twitter account Monday night and wrote, “If there is a record for time (spent) on the couch in a day, (I’m) pretty sure (I’m) getting close to it! The definition of recovery mode over here!”