The day after the New Orleans Saints 27-24 overtime loss to Kansas City wasn’t much better. Blowing a 18-point lead doesn’t look better the next day and once again for the third Monday this season, Saints players and coaches were searching for answers.
“We obviously haven’t made enough plays to win. It’s not like we’re getting blown out each and every game,” said wide receiver Lance Moore Monday morning. “The three losses were different but in each game we had chances and just didn’t make the most of those opportunities and we got to figure out what it is that is not allowing us to do that.”
Figuring that one missing ingredient that clearly is missing could earn someone a promotion or a nice bonus. Especially since no one seems to know the right answer. It is simply puzzling how one minute on Sunday the Saints looked like the team that won 13 games last season and then look like a team that is battling for a win much less a playoff spot.
“When you look at the game it was 24-6 and we looked like the Saints. We looked like the New Orleans Saints,” says Kromer of the first two and a half quarters of football. “We were playing at an efficient level. We were doing a good job of stopping them. They got a couple of field goals, which is good in a lot of situations. We were scoring touchdowns and we got one touchdown called back where we would have had another touchdown going into halftime. We looked like us and we looked like how we should look. As the game went on, we wore down in the fourth quarter. We didn’t finish the game. We need to finish better. The defense got a couple of turnovers for us and we scored off of them. That’s the kind of complimentary football we want to play.”
One reason the Saints offense perhaps hasn’t looked the same is probably because it appears that teams are playing the Saints differently on defense than in past seasons. Teams appear to be trying to make the Saints offense react to them than vice versa. “They’re not allowing you to settle in on one specific defense. They’re giving you a lot of different looks. They’re bringing pressures,” says Moore of how defenses are playing them this year. “You have to change things on the fly and adjust to what they’re doing.”
Whatever the reason putting up minus 16 yards of offense and zero first downs in the fourth quarter and overtime periods combined won’t cut it. “I mean everybody’s upset. You’re 0-3 and you’re the only team in the NFC without a win. It’s not a good feeling. We got to get this going as soon as possible,” says Moore.
As he did last Monday, Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo met with reporters Monday. This week his defense allowed just one touchdown but gave up 510 yards of total offense to the chiefs. 273 of those yards came on the ground with Jammal Charles single handedly picking up 233 yards.
“Not an easy day today obviously,” said Spaguolo before breaking down Sunday’s events. “Certainly disappointed in the loss but I will say that I’m encouraged about some of the things that went on there from a defensive point of view. Certainly, the turnovers were big so we were encouraged by that. The red zone defense, I thought the guys did a really good job down there and it was helpful. We didn’t allow a TD pass, and I know that sounds like ‘Yeah, you’re not supposed to do that’ but with what we were dealing with, I think there were only two pass plays that were over 20 yards. I thought that was pretty good.”
Spagnuolo thought his defense played well for 40 minutes and then the big run by Charles began to turn things around for Kansas City. “The 91-yard touchdown run is not what you expect on any play, on any defensive call. If it’s a 15-yard run, it’s a 15-yard run you dust yourself off and you play defense. That one hurt,” Spagnuolo said.
Still after that play the Saints still held on to a 24-13 lead only to see it shrink by three more on a field goal and then by two on the Brees safety. This is the point of that game that bothers the coach the most, when with just over five minutes to play, the Saints defense failed to make a stop.
“Where I feel like we let the team down is they’ve got the ball at the end of the game,” said Spagnuolo. .”Somehow, someway you have find a way to get off the field, get the ball back to our offense, we are up by three, not let them tie it, etcetera. In there, I always revert back to, it was a 13-play drive and there was a third and a fourth down play, a third-and-ten and a four-and-five, and you have to convert those particular situations in a critical time in the game and we didn’t.”
Like last week, the plan defensively is to try and improve and stay the course. “There’s no magical statement, no magical wand, no one person pulls a team out of it, not a player, not a coach. I think you always end up having to do it together,” says Spagnuolo. “ I know one thing. If you don’t stick together, you really have no chance, so when we stick together, go back to the process and go back to work, that’s the best solution for anything. I know today is the day for doing what we’re doing here right now, but the longer and the more we replay yesterday, the further away we get from today’s opportunity. That will be a message to these players. That’s a part of being in this league. You have to move on. The next challenge is a pretty good one. We all know what we’re facing. We have to put it together and move on.”