Some of the most prominent Saints were in the locker-room at team headquarters Monday to face the media after a 38-17 defeat at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday dropped their 2014 record to 1-3.
Below is some of the best material they delivered in their conversations with reporters.
–Saints safety Jairus Byrd, on whether the team lacks hunger to be better than it’s been in defeats to 2-2 Atlanta; 1-2 Cleveland; and 3-1 Dallas, after a victory over 2-2 Minnesota: “I don’t know. All I know is that we just got to figure out what we’re doing. As far as the hunger and all that, if you’re in this sport and you’re playing this game, you better be hungry. … This thing doesn’t stand for long, and you have to take advantage of your opportunities.”
Byrd caused the Saints’ lone turnover this year, forcing a fumble New Orleans recovered in the first quarter of a Week 1 loss at Atlanta. New Orleans has given the ball away seven times and was tied for last in the NFL Monday with a turnover differential of minus-6.
–Veteran tackle Zach Strief, on whether the team has identified precisely what area is to blame for the 1-3 start: “We’re not looking around the room to find who’s the reason. We’re all the reason.”
The poor turnover ratio hints at that, as both the offense and defense contribute to that statistic. There have also been miscues on special teams, where kicker Shayne Graham missed a field goal in Dallas and had an extra point deflected against Minnesota.
–Byrd again, but this time on the importance of the different phases of the game not blaming each other for the Saints’ struggle: “Now’s not the time to start looking at getting in cliques and pointing fingers. You can’t start doing that.”
–In remarks similar to Byrd’s, Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette on the importance of staying committed and upbeat when fans who thought their team would be a Super Bowl contender are panicking: “It’s very humbling, but we still believe in our team and we still believe the sky’s the limit. We’re down, but we’re not out the game. It’s not over. It’s a long season. We have to stay as positive as possible and pull guys up and not try to be individuals and start getting in little groups, just stick together and stick this one through.”
–Meanwhile, in his usual day-after-game press briefing, Saints coach Sean Payton on whether it surprised him that his team was off to such a slow start: “Our players will respond well. (But) we’re playing like a 1-3 team right now.”
Indeed. Evidence of this is plenty, but here’s a sampling: the defense as of Monday was surrendering the fourth-most yards (396) and what was tied for the fifth-most points (27.5) per game in the NFL. The offense is gaining the third-most yards in the league per game (425.8), but its seven giveaways in four contests are way too many to achieve any meaningful level of success.
The Saints host Tampa Bay (1-3) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at noon this upcoming Sunday.