Catch the Saints and Jets battle in Week 15 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Currently, the New Orleans Saints are the NFL's only team that has three players with more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
It's a monumental feat, but one that has occurred with some regularity under Coach Sean Payton.
This season, running backs Mark Ingram II (1,420 total, on 1,045 rushing and 375 receiving) and Alvin Kamara (1,336 total, on 652 rushing and 684 receiving) and receiver Michael Thomas (1,085 receiving) join a list for the Saints that includes last year's trio of Ingram (1,362), Thomas (1,137) and receiver Brandin Cooks (1,203); the 2011 combination of running back Darren Sproles (1,313), tight end Jimmy Graham (1,310) and receiver Marques Colston (1,143); and the '06 collaboration of Colston (1,038) and running backs Deuce McAllister (1,255) and Reggie Bush (1,307) as the triplets to accomplish the feat since Payton took over in '06.
"It's an interesting stat," Payton said Monday afternoon, during a teleconference with local media. "I don't know that you ever go in with the idea that you're going to have that balance, if you will, with the runners and with the way Mike is playing. Those have all been play-makers for us and those guys have been consistent and have done a very good job. I imagine there have been years where we've had runners and maybe Jimmy Graham and a receiver. But with the length of our season, sometimes you get lost in some of those numbers."
CLEAN UP, NOT CLEAN OUT: Payton referenced repeat offenders during his postgame news conference after Sunday's 31-19 win over the Jets in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, noting that some errors were being committed by the same players. However, he said that personnel changes for the Saints (10-4) weren't the solution.
"It's just cleaning up some of our technique," Payton said. "We had a couple of holding calls inside offensively, we got a couple of holding calls on the back end (on defense). I think it's just constantly working with the technique that we're teaching at practice, so that in a later game it doesn't really come out to hurt you.
"(Cornerback) Ken (Crawley's) foul, for instance, is kind of after the play. (Crawley drew an unnecessary roughness penalty after making a tackle following a 1-yard gain on first-and-15 in the fourth quarter; the 15-yard penalty carries an automatic first down). And Ken is someone that, it's a little out of character. You want to be mindful of how the officials have to call certain things if they feel like there's extra. It might be something small and yet, it could become something big in a closer game."
ROUND TWO: It's rare for NFL opponents to play a season series as quickly as will the Saints and Falcons. When they meet on Sunday in the Superdome, it will be the second meeting in 18 days, following their Thursday night game in Atlanta on Dec. 7.
The benefit is that there needn't be a significant change in preparation.
"What we're doing right now, I'm sure every one of us is going to look at the game a week-and-a-half ago," Payton said. "We'll still go back and look at the cut-ups. Then the question would be, 'How are deep do you go in the cut-ups?'
"If you want to spend more time on a cut-up, we'll have one made of the whole season. Let's say you were looking at every screen pass, or plus-4 runs – pick a section or a category – you can search that by a five-game study, their most recent five. Or if you want to spend longer, you can search it on a year study. You're looking at the same offense and defense, but I don't know that the weekly to-do list is any different than it would have been six weeks ago had we been playing them.
"There's still a certain, 'This is what we're trying to get done on Monday, this is what we're trying to get done on Tuesday.' You're playing a division opponent who's got the same defensive scheme as a year ago, a similar offensive scheme as a year ago and there'll be certain elements to, let's say, the game a week-and-a-half ago that maybe you didn't call, that you'll have back in for this game. But from a scheduling standpoint it's very similar. I would say that the uniqueness would be that we're looking at them tonight (on 'Monday Night Football') and they haven't played their next game yet."
THE NON-CATCH, AND THE FUMBLE: Payton, one of the newest members of the NFL Competition Committee, was asked his thoughts on a pair of controversial plays from Sunday: A Pittsburgh touchdown that was overturned late in the Steelers' loss to New England, and a fumble out of the end zone that cost the Raiders possession and an opportunity to score in their loss to Dallas.
"I do think they – our league and the committee – have defined clearly 'catch, no catch,' " he said. "Now, we could argue, let's look at tinkering with that and yet, I think the bright line is, control after you hit the ground. And I get that.
"With regard to the touchback … I've got that play and a couple of others to show on Wednesday because we're so inclined to clear the ball across the pylon. Drew had a play this year. We're in Buffalo and he scrambles to the left, and he doesn't dive, he's kind of running but he extends the ball over the pylon as he heads out of bounds and gets the touchdown.
"I think that with the current rule, as coaches it's important for us to talk about, 'Is this goal-to-go?' Or, like in last night's game, if you were watching it you knew that (Raiders quarterback Derek) Carr had gained the first down. And he's trying to score and yet, it would cost. So, you could make a strong point to say, hey, the two scenarios are, 'Desperate, I need to get in here,' as opposed to, 'It's not at all cost,' then maybe it's not worth the risk of extending the ball.
"Because every weekend we see great plays, where players are diving for that landmark and extending the ball and getting a touchdown. But there's that balance of, at what cost? I've heard discussions, not formally, but recommendations or thoughts – well, if that were to happen, maybe it's your ball back on the 20 and you don't lose possession of it. Each year, every other year, it comes up and gets revisited. It's one of those unique rules that seems to come up maybe once or twice a season in a very critical moment. I don't know that I have a strong opinion one way or another. What comes to my mind when I see it is, I've got to get a tape so our guys understand. I know we want the score, but at what cost?"
Check out the Saints coaches and staff as they prepared for Week 15 against the Jets.