Photos from the Saints locker room after the team's win vs the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, October 15, 2015. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)
This Rosetta Stone-like regular season hasn't yet reached its midway point, and the New Orleans Saints (2-4) absolutely aren't claiming to have figured it out, even after their 31-21, nationally televised victory over Atlanta on Thursday night.
But the Saints have to feel they at least have a reliable book of directions in hand after winning their second consecutive home game, and raising their prime time record to 26-11 since 2006, and their prime-time home record to 18-4 during that time. Percentage-wise, those are the second- and third-best marks in the NFL.
The key, as always, is to frequently repeat the procedure that helped New Orleans dominate Atlanta (5-1) and hand their NFC South Division rivals their first loss of the season.
"What's important is the feeling – it's kind of hard to explain – it's almost a feeling of confidence, a feeling of swagger in knowing what you're capable of," right tackle Zach Strief said. "People can tell you that you're capable of something but until you actually do it, there's no way to really have confidence in it.
"Having a game like that, where you kind of take one wire to wire and win it, you're winning the whole game and you have it in control, is a big deal. The good thing about this group is it seems like, it's been so level in terms of the preparations and the practices. Guys have come and worked. The attitude has been right the whole time, I don't expect it to be any different.
"We're still 2-4, I think everyone is well aware that we're still in a big hole and that we have a lot of work to do. But getting those guys in a situation where they can feel what it should feel like and what it can feel like, is pretty invaluable because you have to experience it to believe in it."
From what Saints players were saying, even as the team lost its first three games and four of its first five, there was no lack of belief in the process, or that the desired result would be achieved as long as there was a willingness to continue the work.
Even after the 39-17 road loss to Philadelphia – the Saints' worst result this season and worst collaboration of offensive, defensive and special team execution – players expressed belief that they could produce more promising results and would stick together in order to do so.
Now, having done so, the opposite precaution must be employed. Whereas the Saints were cognizant of not getting too down after the Eagles game, they must be wary of not getting too up following the Falcons result.
"We've got to pay close attention," Coach Sean Payton said. "One of the challenges as a coach, sometimes in tough losses, there are some things that you've got to look closely at that were pretty good and correct the mistakes. And then sometimes in a big win, you've got to pay close attention to the mistakes made that could go by the wayside otherwise.
"When these guys get back in here (following the weekend break), we're going to be coaching them hard. There are a lot of things that were positive in that game and there are a handful of things, looking at the tape, that we have to be better at."
It's just one more element to the Saints' Rosetta Stone, and there aren't many days of rest while trying to decipher it.