Two of the NFL’s 13 play-calling head coaches will meet on Sunday when New Orleans’ Sean Payton (offense) faces Vic Fangio (defense) of the Broncos.
The Saints offense, minus receiver Michael Thomas for six games and now without quarterback Drew Brees, is ranked 12th in yards per game (373.6) and fifth in scoring (29.5). The Broncos defense, minus their entire starting line of defense in Week 1 and outside linebacker Von Miller, is 13th in yards allowed (346.3) and 21st in scoring (21.6).
Payton and Fangio have mutual admiration, even though they haven’t coached the same staff and haven’t met that often.
“He always presents challenges with his base defensive package and its sub-package,” said Payton. “They can match you and play you in both, which can really cause problems.
In other words, if you go into the game with a sub (package) run and you get his basic defense, often that doesn’t block properly vs. Which. They have always been coached extremely well and I think this defense plays very well too. “
Fangio said, “I’d rather go up against someone less capable than him. Sean is an excellent play-caller and he always has been and always has been. “
Their personal play-calling match-up is 2-2.
- 2011 NFC Divisional Round: San Francisco (Fangio) defeated New Orleans, 36-32. The Saints gained 472 yards, but made five turns. The 49ers won with nine seconds remaining on quarterback Alex Smith’s 14-yard touchdown pass against Vernon Davis.
- Regular season 2013: The Saints (Payton) beat the 49ers 23-20. The Saints won on Garrett Hartley’s field goal as time went on, his third field goal of the last 7:50. The 49ers lost despite a plus-2 difference in sales.
- 2014 regular season: The 49ers (Fangio) defeated the Saints 27-24 in extra time. San Francisco kicked the tying run with 44 seconds left in the regulations and the winner with 5:14 left in extra time. The 49ers were plus-2 in sales differential.
- 2017 regular season: The Saints (Payton) defeated Chicago 20-12. The Bears never led and Brees had passed 23 of 28 for 299 yards.
“Sean is actually getting better – it’s hard to believe,” said Fangio. “I’ve always felt like he was one of the best play-callers in the league.”