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New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis: 'At this point of the season, this isn't where any of us expected to be'

Says team, defense have to rediscover swagger

Frankly, Demario Davis wasn't so much interested in any question as he was in getting to his answer.

There was a message the New Orleans Saints' All-Pro linebacker and team captain wanted to share Monday, and he wasn't going to be swayed during the lead-up to Sunday's game, when the Saints (2-5) play the Las Vegas Raiders (2-4) in the Caesars Superdome.

So, methodically and with purpose, minus the passion packed into his pregame huddles but including the focus, Davis covered every base that needed to be covered for a team that, coming off a mini-bye due to the fact it played last Thursday, has lost two straight and five of six. New Orleans remains one game behind the NFC South Division leaders.

"It's no secret we're not where we want to be right now," Davis said. "At this point of the season, this wasn't where any of us expected to be. And a lot of that is due to us not playing at the standard that we have. It's adversity because of that. It's adversity because it's unexpected, and it's unexpected because our standard for excellence is so high.

"Adversity creates opportunity. Though none of us wants to be in this situation, there's only one mind-set that's going to change it, and that's taking advantage of every opportunity. And the reason why that's exciting is because all that's happened, we're still only one game out in our division. It's also exciting because we understand what's going on. We understand that we've been our own worst enemy.

"(Running back) Alvin (Kamara) said something great in the locker room (following the 42-34 loss to Arizona): We've got to get back to our swagger. And there's no truer statement. The rub is how we get back to our swagger, and how we get back to our swagger is, it's not a new recipe but it's getting back to what you've done. And what we've done has always been, one of the hardest-working teams in the NFL, and one of the most focused teams in the NFL. And I'm not talking about just focused on Sunday, but our focus during the week.

"We understand that the nucleus of this team begins and ends with the defense. We accept that challenge. We know we haven't performed to our standard. We're OK with that being known that it's not acceptable, because it's not acceptable to us. It's not acceptable in any of our minds. And we know that a turnaround has to happen, we believe a turnaround is going to happen and that turnaround begins and end with us. The way that we go about getting there is in our work, and that's what we're committed to.

"The thing I'm excited about is there's not a harder working group or a more determined group that's locked in on figuring out and doing everything that needs to be done to get this thing turned around. That begins with our coaches. Our coaches are going to thumb through and figure out what is the best way to put us in the best position for our players to be successful. That's what they've always done. They've always found a way to get the best out of us. When we turn on the tape, one of our big sayings here is, 'It's not what we play, it's how we play,' and they've always found a way to put us in a situation where we've played violent and fast and physical.

"As players, as the captains, that's on me and (defensive end) Cam (Jordan) to, when the coaches put out the scheme, to bring out the best and the fast and physicalness of everybody – what's our standard, what's our brand of football. And that intensity that we take in practice, we just keep taking that up. There's not going to be a more committed team in the league, no matter what's going on right now.

"We're not the only ones that don't have the answers, being that we're only one game back. (But) there's not going to be a more committed team, that's committed to figuring out how to get it done with a sense of urgency. And that's where our mindset is."

Davis said defensively, three basic tenets remain true and are what New Orleans will look to recapture after opponents have scored 28, 32, 30 and 42 points in the past four games. The 42-point outburst by Arizona was aided by two defensive touchdowns.

"This game is very simple," he said. "It starts with stopping the run, it starts with getting after the quarterback and it's taking the ball away. How that gets done can change each and every Sunday, but that's what the philosophy of the game is, and that's what we've got to be able to do on a consistent basis, as we've always done."

"I don't think we're playing as good defensively as I think we're capable of playing," Coach Dennis Allen said. "I think we've got to get back to playing with the type of intensity and swagger that we've played with around here the last four or five years. I think that ultimately starts with me and developing that mind-set and keeping that mind-set. I'd like to see us do a better job stopping the run, I'd like to see us get after the quarterback more, I'd like to see us take the ball away more. I think those are all things that we've done around here that we're not doing as well as we need to."

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