Saints look to reset with extra days of rest

Published 7:39 am Wednesday, October 25, 2023

By John DeShazier

New Orleans Saints

The extra days off following a Thursday night game were needed by the New Orleans Saints, who seek to find their footing again after two straight losses dropped the team to 3-4 heading into Sunday’s game against the Colts (3-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

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“It came at a good time for us,” Coach Dennis Allen said. “Gave the players an opportunity to kind of reset a little bit, and us as a coaching staff as well. I think we all utilized this time to reflect on what we’ve done over the first seven games and where are some areas that we need to improve, and so we’re hard at work now on getting those areas improved.”

“Kind of regroup,” center Erik McCoy said. “I think a lot of people got out of town, just time away so we could come in this week with a new sense of focus, a new sense of urgency, a new sense of juice, so to call it. Have that carry over from practice into the game.”

Especially the last two games, the Saints haven’t had a carryover from any of the three phases.

Offensively, New Orleans was a combined 2 of 8 in the red zone in seven-point losses to the Texans and Jaguars, respectively. Defensively, New Orleans allowed 17 points and 238 yards against Houston in the first half before stiffening and holding the Texans to a field goal and 59 yards in the second half, then 17 points and 226 yards in the first half against Jacksonville before clamping down to allow seven points and 104 yards in the second half. And in the kicking game, the Saints have missed three of eight field goal attempts and averaged 42 and 40 net yards per punt, respectively.

“When you have a few extra days, it gives you a little bit more opportunity to kind of dive into some of the things,” Allen said. “I will say from an offensive perspective, situational football I think is one thing that has to be better.

“The last couple of weeks I feel like we’ve moved the ball at times, and yet, we stall out in the red zone or we’re unable to convert third downs. That’s something we’ve taken a look at and figuring out some things we can do better in those areas.”

Linebacker Pete Werner said that unit has to delve deeper into perfecting the details.

“I think the main message is just being really tight with our details,” he said. “We’ve had some time to think and to watch a little bit more of this film. I think we’ve just got to keep emphasizing the importance of these details. We’ve got a great opponent coming up and I think as long as we start in practice and stay up on the details, it’s going to be huge.

“You get a look in the mirror and you realize what has hurt us. I think given this time you can really get that reset and really dive deep into what has hurt us. We’ve got the time to think, now it’s just get ready for Wednesday and go out and practice.”

Werner said the issues have been identifiable. Now, it’s a matter of correcting them consistently.

“Minor techniques in coverage and run, there’s so many little things it’s hard to explain,” he said. “It starts with alignment, technique and your eyes. Sometimes, when one of those isn’t right, then there’s going to be something that’s not going to end up well. It’s hard to go into detail, but at the end of the day, if our eyes are right, we’re in the right alignment and our technique base is right, then we’re going to have a good play.”

The lack of result has led to an occasion or two of emotions boiling over on the sideline.

“We had a lot of good conversations with a lot of different people, things that we need to do better,” Allen said. “The specifics of what we have to do kind of remain in house, but we know that we have to play better. So we will.

“Make sure we’re on the same page. If we’re on the same page and everybody is operating the same exact way, then you don’t usually have those things.”

“I feel like if there are mistakes being made, then they should be called out in a more private setting, or one-on-one,” McCoy said. “The frustrations are there because we’re not executing like we want to.

“We’re absolutely together. Everybody on the offense wants to get the problem fixed, they want to be a part of the solution. So, there’s not a reason for concern. We’re all together. We all have each other’s backs. I’m not stressing.”

Allen said offensively, the Saints should be past the point of growing pains.

“I think it’s time for those to be done with,” he said.