METAIRIE, La. -- A weekly look at what the New Orleans Saints must fix:
The Saints’ defense showed great improvement in most areas in Week 3. But in order to get their first road win of the season Sunday night at Dallas, they must figure out how to start forcing turnovers.
The Saints (1-2) have now gone 11 quarters without a takeaway. And they have just five over their past 14 games.
Turnovers were the Saints’ No. 1 priority in the offseason. They signed ball-hawking safety Jairus Byrd to a $54 million contract. And they emphasized turnovers relentlessly in practices.
What’s especially head-scratching is that New Orleans has an excellent pass rush, led by Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette. But even when the defense has played great (last week against Minnesota and most of last season), the turnovers haven’t come.
“That goes with population to the ball. That goes with the pass rush. There’s so many things that can go into that, that I don’t think you can just hand out a tip sheet and say, ‘We need more takeaways,’” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
The Cowboys should provide an opportunity. They’re tied for fourth in the NFL with seven giveaways, and Tony Romo is tied for first with four interceptions.
And Byrd looks like he’ll be part of the solution. He forced a fumble against Atlanta’s Julio Jones in Week 1 and showed instant recognition when a tipped pass fluttered in the air last week (though he couldn’t reach it).
“Things aren’t gonna just be easy where, ‘Here’s a ball.’ They don’t come like that,” said Byrd, who now has 22 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles in six seasons. “We’ve gotta work, we’ve gotta earn our takeaways.”