It would appear that the New Orleans Saints are getting a bye week at the right time of their season. Heading into 2016, there were plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about what the Saints could bring to the table. However, injuries and the repetitive narrative of the defensive struggles have been the big downfalls of the team’s 1-3 start.
It’s crazy to think that had there not been a ‘2009-like’ magical finish to Sunday’s mind-boggling victory over the San Diego Chargers, we’d be having a different conversation. In today’s NFL, you have to take a win however you can get it.
Sean Payton’s balanced plan during the bye week focuses on giving his team some time away after some meetings and lifting, but they’ll come back early next week and have a bonus practice in preparation for their Week 6 home game against the Carolina Panthers.
“The job for us is going to be during this bye is to look closely at what we’re doing. Not just defensively or offensively or in the kicking game. (We have to) Make sure we have our best players on the field,” Sean Payton told the media on Monday’s conference call.
With the team riding the emotional high after a victory, the task at hand will be taking it a game at a time and putting together another win at home for the Saints. However, that’s no easy feat, as the team has surrendered an average of 38 points per game at home in their past seven contests. In fact, this season’s 138 points allowed is the most of any NFL club.
“There are a lot of things that need to be cleaned up. We’re going to see a stretch of good opponents coming up here. If you start with Carolina and then you go to the next week, Kansas City and the week after that is Seattle. All of those teams were playoff teams (last year) and played extremely well,” said Payton.
Carolina is a big hurdle for the Saints, especially given the fact that they’ve lost three in a row to Ron Rivera’s squad. They’re 2-8 since 2012 against the Panthers, with lone victories in a 2013 home and 2014 road contest.
“Getting that win yesterday (Sunday) is a boost of confidence, and we needed it. I think that our players will be smart in their time away. Then, when we’re back up and preparing for Carolina, they’re going to understand the type of team they are getting ready to play. It is our job as coaches to give them the best chance to have success.”
While many likely continue to revel and savor the team’s first victory of the season, there are many more to go for this Saints team. Everyone hopes that the spark has been ignited to propel them for a strong run during the middle part of the schedule.