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New Orleans Saints hit reset button entering bye week

'We know we have to do better than what we've done, we've been way too inconsistent'

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season.
Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10 of the 2023 NFL season.

The full bye lands at an opportune time for a New Orleans Saints team that consistently has been inconsistent in its first 10 games, the result being a 5-5 record that places New Orleans atop the NFC South Division, but has been a source of concern for a couple of months.

"First and foremost, I told them I want you to get away, I want you to get some rest, I want you to work on getting your bodies and your minds back," Allen said Monday. "And get ready to make this stretch run.

"That's really what this is about. We did the same thing last year and finished off winning three out of our last four. We've got to hit the reset button a little bit, and come back from the bye and be ready to go for this stretch run."

Allen said no staff changes will be made during the bye week, and Derek Carrwill remain the starter at quarterback. Carr currently is in the league's concussion protocol, but his right shoulder injury checked out fine. Receiver link-placeholder-1 and cornerback link-placeholder-2 have "significant" injuries from the Vikings game, according to Allen, but they're not expected to be season-ending issues and each will rehab at the team's practice facility during the bye.

"I think we'll evaluate everything we're doing," Allen said. "We know we have to do better than what we've done, we've been way too inconsistent. We need a lot more in consistency. (But) don't anticipate any staff changes during the bye week."

Regarding a possible change at quarterback, after Jameis Winston came off the bench to pass for 122 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions, in the Saints' 27-19 loss to the Vikings, Allen said, "I don't pay any attention to what's being said in the outside world. We need to play better in a lot of different areas, but that's not something that we're considering."

The Saints continue to be plagued by slow starts on offense or defense, the culmination being Sunday, when both units started slowly as Minnesota built a 24-3 halftime lead. In the first half, the Vikings rolled up 297 yards and three touchdowns, were successful on 4 of 6 third-down opportunities and quarterback Josh Dobbs completed 18 of 22 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. On offense, the Saints totaled 110 yards and converted once in five third-down chances.

The team found its footing defensively in the second half (91 yards and three points allowed, and seven stops in nine third-down chances) and the offense rallied behind Winston for 16 points and 170 yards.

"Defensively, I just don't think we executed like we need to in the first half of the game," said Allen, whose team has allowed 92 total points in the first halves of the last five games, before rallying to allow a total of 23 points in those second halves. "And that's been a trend for us, so we've got to figure out how to get that fixed.

"That'll be a lot of what we'll be working on this week, figuring out how we can – and how I can – get our defensive players to perform better early on in games. Unfortunately, we had an opportunity on the first drive of the game, we had a potential interception opportunity which ended up being an explosive play. That's really kind of been the thing that's hurt us. Defensively, we're giving up way too many explosive plays in the first half, and that's got to be better. We're going to look at a lot of things in terms of how we can fix that."

Allen said the defense hasn't started sluggishly physically, but that the lack of execution can make it appear to be so.

"Offensively, I just don't think we were ever really able to get into a rhythm," he said. "I think we had, like, (24) offensive plays in the first half. It's kind of hard to get into a rhythm that way. They had some long, extended drives in the first half where our offense was sitting on the sideline, and then we weren't able to really match that offensively. We played a lot of snaps defensively in the first half, and we didn't play enough offensively."

The Saints have made defensive adjustments that simply haven't been successful.

"We've tried several things," he said. "We haven't found the solution yet, so we're going to keep working on it, we're going to keep trying. I think always the best answer is, try to do the things that you feel like you can execute at a high level.

"There's times when we do it and we perform exceptionally well, but if we don't put our eyes in the right spot or work the proper technique and those types of things, then offenses exploit it."

Player changes have been discussed and will be considered.

"I talked to the staff today, that we've got to evaluate everything that we're doing, from top to bottom, and we've got to make sure that we're, A, from a coaching standpoint, doing the right things and coaching the right things, and, B, are the players doing what we're coaching them to do," he said. "We've got to get those things more in tune.

"If they're not doing all the things that we're coaching them to do at the level that we need them to do it at, then yeah, we do have to consider some changes. And look, that evaluation takes place throughout the season. That's not unique to a bye week."

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