After returning off their bye week, the Saints coaches and players feel like they have addressed what needed to be addressed to be able to finish strong with their seven games left to play. There wasn't some magic bullet or answer given by head coach Dennis Allen on how to do it. It was pretty straightforward and simple: Play consistently and play complimentary football.
"There were certainly a lot of things that we looked at," Allen said on Monday on learnings from the bye week.
"I think we've kind of been a tale of two teams. The first part of the season, we struggled offensively over the first five games and defensively played pretty well. That's kind of flipped a little bit over the last five weeks. We've got to be able to continue some of the things where we've made some improvements offensively, and certainly there's some things we still need to do better, and we need to get back to playing the type of defense that we played earlier in the season."
Allen feels like the team identified a few things that will help the Saints improve, keeping them in-house, but the key is to go out and do it. He stressed the need to put Derek Carr in the positions that he's most comfortable with as a way to help improve, and Allen has seen improvement out of him as the season has gone on. Allen said there's been some good things offensively over the past five weeks, but they need to be more consistent.
"I think a lot of the issue has been just our ability to play complimentary football. Offense, defense, kicking game. When we're playing well defensively, it's been pretty good. Obviously, it hasn't been that way over the last month. Offensively, I think we've improved a lot. We really got to find a the first five week's defense to show up and the last five week's offense to show up and see if those two units can play together as a team. I think if we can do that we'll see a lot better results."
Defensively, Allen says he feels like the team has identified a few areas where teams are trying to attack them in the running and passing game. Naturally, the team knows they have to be better when it comes to affecting the opposing quarterback, with a major focus on a pass rush that is not where it needs to be.
As far as these final seven games, the Saints have a mentality of having everything in front of them. A win against the Falcons on Sunday well help that cause, but a loss will see them lose control of the NFC South. Also, players are going to have to step up with big injuries to Michael Thomas and Marshon Lattimore set to miss time.
"I told the team today. We're not relying on help from anybody. We’re relying on the guys in this room, and we don't need help from anybody. So, it's really on us."
ON ADDING JASON PIERRE-PAUL
Jason Pierre-Paul's veteran presence hopefully can come in handy at some point over this next stretch. He'll learn the ins and outs of the Saints defense while on the practice squad and the team will see where they go from there. On a side note, rookie Isaiah Foskey is on track to return on Sunday.
Allen said on the addition, "I think skin's on the wall veteran. I think he's a guy that has the ability to play. He was productive last season. It’s a good opportunity for us to bring him in.”