METAIRIE, La. -- Take comfort, New Orleans Saints fans. Your coach is right there with you when it comes to being flummoxed by the extreme highs and lows of this season.
“I’m in that same line with the people,” Saints coach Sean Payton said when asked about how fans have been scratching their heads after New Orleans lost three straight home games, then went on the road for an impressive victory at Pittsburgh.
In general, Payton said he’s rarely surprised by any of the twists and turns he sees around the NFL when he glances at other scores on a weekly basis. It’s been the nature of the league for a while now.
But his own team this season? Well, that’s a different story.
“I would agree, this year has been different for us than any season I can recall in a while,” Payton said of his 5-7 team. “Us ourselves, compared to the rest of the league, listen, we’ve been inconsistent. ... Man, that area, we all gotta continue to look at being a little more consistent as opposed to up and down. And really trying to bring out the best of what we can do every week, coaching and playing.
“I think that you’ve gotta build on some good tape like that (Sunday’s 35-32 win over the Steelers), and part of it’s confidence and part of it’s coaching. A lot of it is us making sure we’re doing the right things and giving 'em a chance.”
It should go without saying that the Saints must avoid any temptation to relax or let up after snapping their three-game losing streak.
But then again, players lamented the fact that they weren’t able to build off the momentum of their last two-game win streak when they got back to .500 with impressive wins over Green Bay and Carolina in Weeks 8 and 9.
Payton didn’t specify what the message to the team would be this week heading into a home date against those reeling Panthers. Carolina (3-8-1) hasn’t won a game since Week 5.
But clearly the talk will center around taking nothing for granted with this opponent -- especially considering the back-and-forth history between the two division rivals.
“It’s a division game. We know them. They know us. ... And we know we have to get this win,” said Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, who had arguably the biggest play of Sunday’s win at Pittsburgh with a third-quarter interception -- but insisted Monday morning it was already in the past.
“I think there were still some missed opportunities left out on the field. I just looked at film. And I’ve gotta correct a couple things,” Jordan said. “So I’m excited for next week, and honestly, I’m not gonna worry about yesterday’s game because that’s what it was, yesterday’s game.”