NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints coach Dennis Allen has given his players the weekend as he and his staff try to figure out how to stem the tide of turnovers, missed tackles and other fundamental errors that have led to five losses of 10 points or less.
What’s particularly frustrating for Allen is that while he can identify the issues that are preventing his team from winning, staff haven’t been able to come up with quick fixes – and Allen suggested on Friday that he there might not be.
“There’s not this magic pill, this magic formula,” Allen said. “We all live in the microwave society and we want to see things change right away.
“We’re working as hard as we can to fix it, but still, I think the process is you have to keep working on it,” Allen added. “The results may not be immediate, but they do come eventually.”
The Saints (2-5) have lost five of six games. Four of those losses were eight points or less.
In Thursday night’s 42-34 loss at Arizonathree interceptions thrown by Andy Dalton caused a swing of between 14 and 21 points.
The first turnover came in the Arizona end zone on the Cardinals’ third-and-8 10, preventing the Saints from setting up for at least a routine field goal.
The second turnover bounced off the hands and helmet of receiver Marquez Callaway and landed in the arms of Arizona’s Marco Wilson, who returned it for a touchdown.
On the last, Dalton was hit while throwing. The wobbly pass was short to expected receiver Chris Olave. Linebacker Isaiah Simmons caught it and returned it for another TD.
Those three plays undermined a largely productive night for Dalton and the offense. The Saints scored 30+ points for the second time in three games and New Orleans edged the Cardinals, 494 yards to 326, with Dalton passing for 361 yards and four touchdowns.
“There are a lot of things that we did well,” Allen said. “We moved the ball extremely well (Thursday) night. We scored a lot of points in the last games.
“There are some things we need to clean up so we can start winning some of these games instead of going out in the short term,” Allen added.
Minus the turnovers, the offense was productive on the ground and in the air. Over the past four games, the Saints have averaged 417 yards and 31 points.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Saints have an NFL-worst turnover differential of minus-10. That’s twice as bad as the second-worst differential (four teams are at minus-five).
In addition to 16 lost turnovers (nine interceptions and seven fumbles), the Saints are struggling to force turnovers on defense. New Orleans has intercepted an opposing QB pass this season and recovered five fumbles. One of those recoveries happened on special teams.
“We have to do some things to be a little more aggressive,” Allen said. “Playing faster, playing more violent, playing more aggressive, I think that’s what we miss a bit at the moment.”
Undrafted rookie receiver and returner Rashid Shaheed. After rushing for a 44-yard touchdown in his debut on Oct. 16, he caught a 53-yard touchdown pass in his second game.
Olave returned from a concussion and led the Saints with seven receptions for 106 yards, while tight end Juwan Johnson caught two touchdowns.
Callaway had a rough night. In addition to his missed catch leading to a Cardinals TD, he finished with two catches for 20 yards on six targets. Defensive end Marcus Davenport hasn’t had a sack in three games and has only a half sack this season.
Top receiver Michael Thomas (foot) missed four straight games, receiver Jarvis Landry (ankle) missed three and top cornerback Marshon Lattimore missed two. Cornerback Paulson Adebo (knee), tight end Adam Trautman (ankle) and left guard Andrus Peat (chest) were also out Thursday night, and cornerback Bradley Roby (ankle) was ejected during the game .
“Obviously we have some good players who are not available to play right now,” Allen said, but he said he and the medical staff had “optimism” that some of those players would be back. when the Saints play again on October 30.
28.6 – Opposing points per game, second worst in the NFL.
The Saints play their next two games at home, where they have won once this season, starting with a visit from the Las Vegas Raiders on Oct. 30.
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