However it's sliced, diced, dissected and parsed, the fact to digest remains that the New Orleans Saints entered (5-5) entered their bye week leading the NFC South Division, and exited it in the same position.
And because of it, the Saints continue to control their own destiny entering Sunday's game against the Falcons (4-6) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
"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," Coach Dennis Allen said Monday.
That said, Allen didn't overlook the fact that the Saints have been inconsistent, and the search for consistent improvement continued through the bye.
"There were a lot of things that we looked at," he said. "I think we've been a tale of two teams in that the first part of the season, we struggled offensively 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 made improvement offensively, and certainly there's still some things that we need to do better, and we need to get back to playing the type of defense that we played earlier in the season.
"I'm not going to go public with all the different things that we came up with, but I did think we identified a few things that will help us improve. Now, we've got to go out there and do it. There's not this, 'Aha!' moment, like that's the one thing that if we just do that, we're going to be fine. There's a few things that we've got to be better at."
Defensively, mobile quarterbacks were especially troublesome over the last five games, contributing to overall slippage in the run defense. On offense, the red zone woes of the first give games partly were rectified heading into the bye, but all offensive flow dissipated for three quarters in New Orleans' most recent game, a 27-19 loss to Minnesota entering the bye.
"I think when you go back and you look at it from a statistical standpoint, over the last five weeks we've done some really good things offensively," Allen said. "And yet, we still need to be more consistent there.
"But I think a lot of the issue has been just our ability to play complementary football – offense, defense, kicking game. When we're playing well defensively it's been pretty good. It hasn't been that way over the last month. And then offensively, I think we've improved a lot.
"We've really got to find a way to get the first five weeks' defense to show up and the last five weeks' offense to show up, and see if those two units can play together as a team. I think if we can do that, then we'll see a lot better results."
Allen said he has seen improvement from quarterback Derek Carr who is in protocol after suffering a concussion against the Vikings.
In the first five games, Carr completed 65.3 percent of his passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns, with two interceptions, and was sacked 15 times as the Saints went 3-2. He exited the Green Bay game in the third quarter with a right AC joint sprain.
In the last five, with the Saints winning two of five, Carr completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 1,285 yards and six touchdowns, with two interceptions, and was sacked six times. He left the Vikings game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and concussion.
"I think as the season has gone on, I've seen improvement out of Derek," Allen said. "There are still things that you'd like to see better, but I think overall he's been efficient, I think he has protected the ball, he's been able to take some shots down the field when they've presented themselves.
"And so I think, like a lot of our team, we'd still like to see more consistency in the passing game, and there's a lot of elements that go into that. But I think overall, I think Derek has done a good job."
"I think Michael Thomas and (Marshon) Lattimore, these are injuries that are going to take some time," Allen said. "But I think other than that, I think we're in a pretty good spot."
DOWN WITH JPP: New Orleans signed defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to the practice squad during the bye week. Pierre-Paul, who is entering his 14th season, had three sacks in 14 games last season for the Ravens and has 94.5 sacks, 21 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries, 167 quarterback hits and 127 tackles for loss in 179 career games.
"I think he's a guy that still has the ability to play," Allen said. "He was productive last season, and so I think it's a good opportunity for us to bring him in, have him start out on the practice squad and then we'll see where it goes from there."