Sean Payton and Rob Ryan are off to a good start

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Well, I guess leadership does count.

In his first real NFL game in 20 months, Saints head coach Sean Payton had his team very well prepared. And so did defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Ryan came up with a terrific game plan against the falcons and his players executed it.

The Saints got pressure with exotic looks, but blitzed sparingly. It was the perfect recipe: pressure on the quarterback without yielding too many big plays.

Payton’s draft is already contributing. First round pick Kenny Vaccaro has a chance to be an outstanding safety and wide receiver Kenny Stills, a fifth round pick, had two catches for 86 yards.

If the Saints have an Achilles heel it is the running game. Mark Ingram carried nine times for 11 yards. Not good. Pierre Thomas deserves more carries. Perhaps he will get them Sunday at Tampa Bay.

An NFL season is a marathon, but the Saints, who responded to Sean Payton and Rob Ryan, are off to a very good start.