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New Orleans Saints offense on red alert in red zone

Saints' 42.5 percent conversion rate in red zone is fourth-worst in NFL

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season.
Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season.

The New Orleans Saints have had games where the red zone efficiency has been adequate, if not above.

Three of four against New England and Indianapolis; three for five against the Bears; and two of two against Minnesota. But for the most part, entering Sunday's game against Detroit (8-3) in the Caesars Superdome, the Saints (5-6) have had more than enough struggle to smother the prosperity.

Overall, New Orleans is 17 of 40 in the red zone this season, including five touchdown-less trips in as many attempts in Sunday's 24-15 road loss to Atlanta. The Saints' red zone percentage, 42.5, is fourth-worst in the NFL.

Saints Coach Dennis Allen said affixing blame to a single player wouldn't be a correct assessment. New Orleans is on a six-game stretch during which the offense has averaged 395.5 yards per game, but has gone 10 of 24 (42%) in the red zone during that same period.

"It's a team game and there's a lot of factors involved in it," Allen said. "There's different factors, whether it be protection or routes or concepts or execution. That's an area that we've not been as good as we need to be, and that's an area that we're going to spend a little bit more time working on.

"I think there are things that we can all be doing better. To single (quarterback Derek Carr) out is not the right way to go. The game of football is the ultimate team game. It takes 11 guys on the field in every single phase, (and) it takes all three phases. And so, I'm not going to get into trying to associate blame to anybody. It's just an area that we've got to improve on.

"I think our offense has been better and yet, the one critical area that continues to crop up is we're not scoring enough touchdowns. That's an area that we keep focusing on and keep working on and we'll continue to work on it until we get it right."

To that end, the Saints will spend extra time on red zone drills this week.

"One of the ways we're going to work on it is we're going to spend a little extra time and move the red zone up a little bit and get a little extra work," Allen said. "Typically, in a normal week, you'd say first and second down would happen on a Wednesday. Thursday would be more third-down related, Friday would be more red zone, goal line, short yardage-related. We're going to move a little bit of that red zone stuff up into Thursday's practice."

IRON MAN: Defensive end Cameron Jordan (ankle) exited Sunday's game late and sat out Wednesday’s practice due to his injury. He only has missed one game in his 13-year career (in 2022, with an orbital bone fracture). Otherwise, he has been available for every other game, 203 in all entering Sunday.

"Cam's a tough guy, he's going to do everything he can to get himself ready to play, and we'll just see where he's at as the week goes on," Allen said.

Receiver Chris Olave (concussion), who also left the Atlanta game, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and remains in protocol. Also, kicker Blake Grupe (right groin) was limited in practice. Grupe made five of six field goal attempts against the Falcons.

"It's something that kind of cropped up late in the week, and yet he was able to kick in the game," Allen said. "He's a little more sore after kicking in the game, he's kind of day-to-day in terms of what his availability is going to be. We'll see where he's at later in the week. That was one of the reasons why we brought in some kickers to work out."

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