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Sean Payton agrees Saints were 'flat'

METAIRIE, La. -- After watching the tape again Monday morning, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said he "felt the same thing I think our fans felt: We were somewhat flat" in Sunday's 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

"We have to look clearly at who we're doing it with, what we're doing, and then how to get ourselves a little bit more emotionally ready to play," said Payton, who admitted that last category falls squarely on the shoulders of himself and the coaching staff. "We have to look at the work week and make sure we're ready physically and mentally to play better than we did yesterday."

Payton didn't announce any wholesale changes like what happened late last season when he called a special Wednesday morning news conference to announce some bold changes at left tackle and kicker.

Then again, Payton also stressed that he normally doesn't announce roster moves in such a manner. In fact, Payton wouldn't even confirm the injuries to receiver Brandin Cooks and safety Rafael Bush on Monday.

"We're going to try to do the best things that are necessary to win this game," Payton said. "So [personnel changes] wouldn't be something that's announced or discussed or bounced off you guys [in the media]."

Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton said there was already one slight tweak to the normal routine on Monday when players broke down film on their own as offensive and defensive units. Lofton said they've done that before, but usually coaches are involved in the film breakdown. This time, the coaches put it on the players.

The Saints (4-6) are stuck in limbo in some ways, both because they're still tied for first place in the woeful NFC South and because they've played very well at times this year. So it's tough to decide just how much to alter the approach.

Payton stayed mostly encouraging through the Saints' first five losses -- mostly because they were truly showing signs of improvement, even in close losses to Detroit and San Francisco. Two weeks ago, it seemed as though New Orleans had turned around its season with back-to-back wins over Green Bay and Carolina.

But the Saints' lethargic loss to the Bengals was an entirely different beast. So both Payton and quarterback Drew Brees acknowledged that some changes are necessary.

"You can't [be depressed]," Payton said. "You can be frustrated. You can be disappointed. You know, a lot of times for me you look closely in the mirror. We talk about it all the time as coaches. Hey, we're responsible to get these guys up to speed, to give them a chance.

"Our job now as coaches, starting with me, is putting together the best plan possible for this game and really the best group of players to execute that plan. … We've got to find a way to get a win this week [Monday night at home against the Baltimore Ravens]. That's what's going to be most important."