Saint's coach Sean Payton showed great balance against the Detroit Lions

Tom ThomasonCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 14:  Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints looks on from the sidelines during a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengalson August 14, 2009 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

I have been very vocal in my criticism of Saints coach Sean Payton. I wrote a couple articles last season about him being over his head and hurting his team with poor coaching. Well it seems our offensive Guru has finally turned the corner.

Last year, Payton had a one-track mind when it came to offense. Pass,pass, and pass. Running the ball was for old fashion coaches who weren't offensive genius's like Sean Payton. But it looks like the fourth year coach has matured a bit as a coach.

How you ask? Consider Sunday's game against the helpless Lions of Detroit. The Saints had the usual 358 yards passing with a surprising 157 yards rushing. Running back Mike Bell simply put a butt whippin on the Lions with 143 yards rushing.

 Head coach Sean Payton called a very balanced offensive game on sunday. He called 34 pass plays with 35 run plays. You can't be more balanced then that. The young coach called very few trick plays and stayed patient.

Having a strong, balanced running game could be a very dangerous combination for Saint's opponents. The Saint's already have the most explosive offense in the NFL. With a healthy running game, the sky is the limit.

Not only did the running game pick up but, the defense was pretty sporty as well. The defense swarmed around the ball and created turnovers. The play of Darren Sharper was very impressive with 2 interceptions. The Lions were held to just 231 total yards on Sunday.

In reality, most of the points scored by the Lions were from turnovers and special teams failure. The Saint's Defense was responsible for 14 points at most. If not for the three Saint's turnovers, this could have been a serious laugher.

It seems the Saint's offensive maverick has learned form his coaching mistakes. If he could continue to use balance against some of the better teams in the NFL,it could be a banner year for the Saints. Ofcourse, it has to be rather difficult to stay balanced when you have a machine like Drew Brees at QB.

Brees had a outstanding day against the Lions with 358 yards passing and a record six TD's. Brees could be on his way to another 5000 yard passing year if he continues to play like this. Throw in an effective running game to keep defense's honest, and he might break Dan Marino's record of 5084 yards back in 1984.

So Saints fans. keep hope alive for that elusive Superbowl. While the Saint's weren't perfect by any means on Sunday,(three turnovers) they showed massive potential to go all the way this year.