Not that there was doubt the New Orleans Saints wouldn’t land in London lacking total focus on winning their game Sunday against Minnesota, but perhaps there was a smidgeon more lasering Monday for New Orleans, which is 1-2 following Sunday’s 22-14 loss to Carolina.
“We’re here on a business trip,” running back Mark Ingram II told Stacey Dales of the NFL Network. “Obviously, yesterday was a tough one. But we’re here to improve, we’re here to get better. We watched the film, we had a great team meeting. Nobody is having thin skin, everybody is taking accountability about the team.
“I think we have the right mind-set, the right guys on the team – character guys both on the field and off the field – that we can get this thing pulled together and going in the right way. Being in London together, all we have is each other. So we’ll enjoy each other, we’ll grow closer to each other, we’ll love on each other, encourage each other and we’ll get this thing going in the right way.”
“I think having the whole team in the hotel here can bring guys together and a little bit of team bonding, if you will,” right tackle Ryan Ramczyk said. “I think it’s good for us.
“You’ve really got to lock in and stay focused. It’s easy to come over here and be like, ‘Oh, I want to go see all these different things, I’m in a different country.’ It’s all new for most guys, but it’s still a business trip at the end of the day. You’ve got to lock in, focus, do your job and make sure we’re ready to go out and beat Minnesota this week.”
While the Vikings opted to travel later this week, the Saints left from Charlotte, N.C., after Sunday’s game, the same recipe the team has used in the past, most recently when it traveled to London in 2017.
“We got over here this morning so we could get a good week of work, focus in on what we have to do to improve, focus in on what we have to do to get ourselves ready to win a game on Sunday,” Coach Dennis Allen said. “We’ve got a lot of areas that we’ve got to improve on – offensively, defensively and in the kicking game. We’ve got to work hard to get those things corrected and fixed before we get to Sunday.”
On Sunday, the Saints’ again failed to establish a consistent offensive flow, undermined by three turnovers – including a lost fumble returned for a touchdown – and seven penalties. The defense was stout for the majority of the game, but allowed a 67-yard touchdown reception two plays after Ingram’s 5-yard touchdown run made it 13-7. And on special teams, kicker Wil Lutz had a 30-yard field goal attempt blocked and missed a 48-yard try.
“We’re three games into the season, got 14 games to go and we’ve got to take them one game at a time,” linebacker Demario Davis said. “Win or lose it’s always the same process – look at the tape, find out where you can get better, make the corrections and keep going forward. Definitely disappointed in the game not going the way that we wanted, but all of our goals are still in front of us.
“Not good enough (on defense) to win the game. That’s the name of the business. We’ve got to be better.”
Like Allen, Ingram said improvement has to happen across the board.
“We’ve just got to execute,” he said. “We have so much talent, we have so many guys that have played and done this at the highest level. We have confidence in each other, we just have to go out there and execute. That’s what it’s coming down to.
“You’ve got to learn what gets you beat before you can learn to win. You’ve got to stop doing those things that can get you beat. Turning the ball over, penalties, allowing big plays, not generating big plays. Offense, defense, special teams – all those things are so crucial and so critical. Every play holds its own weight and significance, but you never know what play is going to change the game, what play is going to determine the outcome of the game. You have to approach every single play like it’s the most important play, because it is.”
Ingram said the team fully is confident in quarterback Jameis Winston, who has thrown five interceptions in the last two games, all in the fourth quarter. Winston has been sacked 11 times.
“We love Jameis. He’s our guy,” Ingram said. “He has all the tools needed to be able to lead a team to a championship, lead a team to wins, lead a team to victories. We have the utmost confidence in him. The way he prepares, the way he leads the team, we all have his back.
“We all want to play well, protect him, so he’s not getting hit so he can deliver the ball, so he can manage the game the way that we know he knows how to do. We’ve got to protect him, we’ve got to protect each other, and we’ve got all got to continue to improve and get better and execute our job to the fullest.”
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