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With offense making jump forward, New Orleans Saints look to get defense back up to speed in first halves

'I've got to do a better job of preparing our guys for what they might see early on in games'

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8 of the 2023 NFL season.

The pursuit of a perfection that never is going to happen was partly why on Monday, New Orleans Saints Coach Dennis Allen couldn't simply bask in the fact that the Saints gave, by far, their best offensive performance of the season in Sunday's 38-27 victory over the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

New Orleans rolled to a season-high point total behind 511 yards of offense, converting half of its 12 third-down attempts and scoring touchdowns on three of four trips to the red zone while raising its record to 4-4 entering Sunday's game against Chicago (2-6) in the Caesars Superdome.

But defensively, Allen said the team started slowly for the third consecutive game, a point that he took responsibility for.

The offense snapped out of its doldrums with five touchdowns – two passing, three rushing – and its second consecutive game of allowing just one sack.

"I thought offensively, probably the biggest difference in our ability to score points was we converted on third downs, which kept drives alive, had more opportunities," Allen said. "And we were able to cash in in the red area. Part of that, being able to cash in in the red area, is being able to run the ball effectively down there. So I thought those were a couple of key factors.

"I do feel like one of the things we talked about in this game was being able to win the line of scrimmage up front offensively, and I thought our offensive line overall did a nice job, both in the run game and in the passing game, of creating some holes in the run game and giving us some clean pockets to throw in in the passing game."

Quarterback Derek Carrcompleted 19 of 27 passes for 310 yards and no interceptions, and New Orleans rushed for a season-high 161 yards on 36 carries.

But on defense, the Saints allowed 20 points to the Colts in the first half, the third consecutive game of giving up at least 17 in the first half. In each game, New Orleans' defense has stormed back in the second half, allowing a total of 17 points (59 yards and a field goal to Houston, 104 yards and a touchdown to Jacksonville and 159 yards and a touchdown to the Colts).

But the first halves have been eyesores: 238 yards allowed to Houston, 226 to Jacksonville and 212 to Indianapolis.

"Defensively, I've got to do a better job of getting our guys ready to play to start the game, because that's three straight weeks that we've started off slowly, giving up explosive plays, allowed points and then we settle in and played much better in the second half," Allen said. "But I've got to do a better job there, so I've got to kind of look at what I'm doing, what I'm calling, how I'm getting the guys prepared. But that certainly is unacceptable in terms of the way that we've played in the first half defensively.

"I've got to do a better job of putting our guys in position to be successful and make plays, and I've got to do a better job of preparing our guys for what they might see early on in games. A lot of teams, you'll get into the first 15 (plays), you see some unique formations, you see some unique motions, you see some different things. Some things that they want to see how you're going to adjust. And so, I just think I've got to do a better job getting our guys prepared for all those things.

"There's a little bit of (a feeling out process), but we've had games that we've started out fast and played well early on in the game. The last three weeks, we haven't. That's something that we've got to do a better job, and so I think from my standpoint, I've got to do a better job of getting our guys prepared for the things that they might see in these openers so that we can start faster."

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