Saintsinsder.com's Matthew Postins and Broncosinsider.com's Michael Schon John are previewing this weekend's game all week with their "Behind Enemy Lines" series. Get the inside scoop on this game well before kickoff on Sunday. Read Part I by Clicking here, Then read part two by Clicking here.
The Saints have yet to make a formal announcement, but third-year coach Sean Payton received a three-year contract extension from owner Tom Benson last week.
The extension will keep Payton, the 2006 NFL Coach of the Year, with the Saints through the 2012 season.
Payton was working on the third year of a four-year contract he was given when he accepted the job in Jan. 2006. In that first season, his first as a head coach at any level, he guided the Saints to a 10-6 record, the NFC South title and a berth in the NFC Championship Game.
Fox Sports reported before Sunday's loss to the Washington Redskins that the new deal will make Payton, who has an 18-16 regular-season record and 19-17 overall mark, one of the five highest-paid head coaches in the league behind Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan, Jeff Fisher and Bill Belichick.
"I'm grateful to the Saints and the Benson family for that opportunity and the confidence they have in myself and our coaching staff," Payton said after Sunday's game. "We'll work our tail off to bring a championship to this city, but we've got a lot of work to do. It was disappointing (today)."
MEACHEM RISING: Wide receiver Robert Meachem, the Saints' top draft pick in 2007, finally got onto the field for a regular-season game against the Redskins.
Meachem, the 27th overall pick of the draft, was inactive for all 16 games last season after injuring his knee and ankle during off-season workouts. He was also inactive for the Saints' opener against Tampa Bay on Sept. 7.
But he got his chance against the Redskins because Marques Colston was sidelined with a torn ligament in his left thumb. Meachem's first catch as a pro, a 19-yarder from Drew Brees in the third quarter, went for a touchdown.
"It was a dream come true," Meachem said. "Growing up as a little kid, you always want to score and get a chance to catch the ball in the NFL and I was blessed enough to catch the ball in the end zone. The only thing is it was a great play at the moment, but it wasn't enough for us to win."
REFS NOT CALLING TAUNTING EVENLY: Payton said he thought a taunting penalty on Reggie Bush, who turned and pointed at several Redskins defenders at the end of his 55-yard punt return for a touchdown last Sunday, was warranted.
At the same time, Payton doesn't think the taunting penalty is being called consistently among the NFL officiating crews. He pointed out that Tampa Bay safety Jermaine Phillips and Washington safety LaRon Landry each jawed with Saints players in the first two games, but were not flagged.
Landry got in the face of Saints wide receiver David Patten after an incompletion Sunday, but then patted Patten on the helmet.
"To answer your question, you can't taunt," Payton said. "I thought in Reggie's case he was taunting, so there was a penalty.
"But on the (play) with Landry, they overlook some and look at some," he said. "I haven't figured out that rule interpretation yet because it came last week in the Tampa game when you see all the B.S. after the plays. Based upon the rules and how they've been explained to me, I think that was a penalty."
BREES' STREAK: Saints quarterback Drew Brees started his 50th consecutive game last Sunday against the Redskins.
While that doesn't seem like much compared to Brett Favre, who started his 255th straight contest last week, it's tied for the fourth-longest starting streak among active quarterbacks after Tom Brady's 111-game streak ended.
SHARED ALMA MATERS: Payton and Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who will square off for the first time Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High, are both graduates of Eastern Illinois University.
Both were quarterbacks at EIU, which is located in Charleston, Ill. Payton, a three-year starter in the mid-1980s, still holds most of the school's passing records. Shanahan played there in the early 1970s.
GREEN'S NEW LOOK: Wide receiver Skyler Green, a member of the Saints practice squad, sported a very different look Wednesday.
Green, who's had dreadlocks since his freshman year at LSU in 2002, now has a modified Mohawk haircut. He said he decided to cut the long locks last Friday on the occasion of his 24th birthday.
Green said he didn't get much reaction from his teammates, but his mother and some friends certainly noticed.
"My mom said it (the new look) was very becoming of me," Green said with a smile. "She said, 'You look a lot better.' Then, a couple of my boys looked at me and said, 'Man, we didn't notice it was you.'"