Maybe don't venture so far as to say the New Orleans Saints' offense is fixed. The unit still has more quarters on the ledger that it would consider uneven than ones that it would consider acceptable.
But over the last six quarters, this definitely is what a fixed offense would look like:
Fifty-seven points, 700 yards (308 rushing and five touchdowns on 64 carries, 392 passing and two touchdowns, with an interception, on 29-for-44 passing), 9 of 18 on third down and 52:42 of a possible 90 minutes in time of possession.
Entering Sunday's game against Cincinnati in the Caesars Superdome, the Saints (2-3) have found their best offensive groove over the last game-and-a-half, two quarters against Minnesota and four against Seattle.
"I felt like we operated efficiently in (the Seattle) game offensively, and felt like we were able to do that in the second half of the previous game," Coach Dennis Allen said. "Overall, I was pleased with our offensive efficiency, I think that's what we have to be able to do. I think we're converting third downs at about 50 percent clip over the last two games, and that allows us to maintain possession and stay on the field."
And the Saints have been able to do good things when they've stayed on the field the last six quarters.
During that time, the offense has committed five penalties for 35 yards and has committed two turnovers, an Alvin Kamara fumble in the second quarter and an Andy Dalton interception in the third quarter against Seattle.
"Just cleaning up those little things," Kamara said. "We've still got some things to clean up – I fumbled last week, and that's obviously not ideal. We overcame it – thank you, defense, for buying me back. They bought me back, they got a turnover that next drive.
"But I think for the most part, we've cleaned up a lot. we still want to clean up more. We want to clean up some of those sacks, do better in protection. The O-line challenge themselves every week to be perfect in protection. Running back room, tight end room, we challenge ourselves to be great in protection, be able to protect Andy so we can do what we need to do to operate as an offense. I think we feel good with where we're at. We've been able to kind of put it together and get some things going."
Center Erik McCoy said shaving down turnovers has been a significant factor, and also credited the defense with pitching in to help the offense find a rhythm.
"I still think we have way too many mistakes, and too many penalties to be frank with you," McCoy said. "That's something that needs to be corrected. But honestly, it's a team effort, it's a group effort.
"We're not turning the ball over as much, and the defense is really stepping up and they're playing well in the red zone and on third down. That's keeping the other guys off the field, putting us back on the field, giving us an opportunity to run the football, keep drives sustained, get us in third and manageable situations. Shouts to special teams, too. They had a turnover within their territory (a fumble recovery at Seattle's 13-yard line in the second quarter), and that gave us an easy opportunity to go in and get six."
McCoy said that cleaning up minute details has helped the offense sync.
"I would say that's the name of the game, especially up front," he said. "One guy takes a bad step, puts another guy in a bad position and it leads to a TFL (tackle for loss) or it leads to a sack. Things of that nature. The details have to be executed, and that's something I still think we can grow in.
"It develops over the season, but you still have to practice those daily habits in walkthrough, in your individual reps, in team, and it's something I think we're getting better at."
It has helped the Saints' offense become the best version of itself. After scoring seven touchdowns in its first 14 quarters, New Orleans has reached the end zone the same amount of times in the last six quarters.
"I think overall, you've got to look to the execution," Allen said. "If you're going to be successful in anything, you've got to be able to have a plan and be able to execute that plan. I think we've done a better job of that the last couple of weeks. It's been good to see."