New Orleans Saints Week 1 In Review and What To Watch For Heading Into Week 2

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Saints Week 1 Review and What To Look For In Week 2

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints began their 2013 NFL season with a hard-fought win over division and NFC rivals, the Atlanta Falcons. Fans were hoping for a strong showing following last year's season in the wake of the Bounty Gate Scandal and head coach Sean Payton's suspension. Payton returned and led his team to a 23-17 victory of the Falcons and the Saints were the only NFC South team to win in week one. Things are looking good in New Orleans coming out of week one.

This is not to say that there still were not questions heading into the opening week. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his new look, aggressive, blitz-happy defense had a big test against a team that went to the NFC Championship game just a year ago.

There were also questions about the running game. New Orleans elected to keep five running backs on the active 53-man roster with the hopes that the Saints would focus a little bit more on the running game to help their dominant passing attack.

Yet another unknown was how some of the Saints rookies would respond if they were thrown into the first and second-man rotations. Specifically, I was anxious to see how rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro and rookie receiver Kenny Stills would fare following a very promising training camp and preseason.

Here now is a look back at New Orleans' Week 1 and what's ahead as they get ready to play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road in Week 2.

Jack Cavanaugh is a New Orleans Saints contributing writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cav_jack, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Sean Payton's Return

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Head coach Sean Payton's return to the captain's chair was much anticipated during training camp and the preseason. Payton was suspended for one year for his role in the New Orleans Saints Bounty Gate Scandal and he last coached an NFL game in a January, 2012 playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Payton led the pregame opening chant with former Saint Steve Gleason and then lead his team to a 23-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

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4. Drew Brees and Marques Colston Break Records

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In their opening game for the 2013 NFL season, Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Marques Colston each set their own records. Colston became New Orleans' all-time leader in reception off of a second-quarter touchdown catch. On that same throw, Brees surpassed 46,000 career passing yards, becoming one of only eight people ever to do so. Assuming he stays healthy, Brees could finish the season with around 51,000 passing yards.

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3. Rookies In the Midst

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Payton and company have never shied away from throwing rookies and younger players into the thick of things, so long as they can play. Rookies Kenny Vaccaro and Kenny Stills showed us that today. Vaccaro was responsible for deflecting the last minute Matt Ryan pass to Tony Gonzalez, resulting in an interception by Roman Harper. Stills, on the other hand, caught two passes for 86 yards. His most impressive play was a 67-yard catch that highlighted his smart play and fundamentals.

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2. Defensive Line

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The defensive outing following such a dismal effort last season was great to see. New Orleans sacked Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan three times, hit him another six times and hurried him often. The Saints' goal line stand near the end of the fourth quarter was impressive, too. Look for this unit to continue to grow and shape into a competent defense behind defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

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1. Saints' Running Game Nonexistent Against Atlanta

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

What can we say about the running game in New Orleans win over Atlanta? Not much.

New Orleans rushed for 78 yards on 29 attempts. Former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram rushed for 11 yards on nine carries, for a grand total of 1.2 yards per carry. Atlanta's numbers weren't very good, either, but the Saints must establish a better running game or risk losing other close games as the season goes on.


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