Defenses treating Saints differently

Although the New Orleans Saints are 3-1, it’s hard not to look at the offensive numbers and spot at least some causes for concern.

The Saints are averaging 19.8 points a game. Through four games last season, they were averaging 36 points. They’ve averaged 344 yards in total offense. At this point last season, they were averaging 414.3 yards.

So what’s been the difference?

“I think if you look at points scored, that aspect hasn’t been what we’re accustomed to and certainly where we want to be,’’ coach Sean Payton told the New Orleans media Monday afternoon.

Payton then became pretty candid (by coaching standards) and admitted defenses are playing the Saints differently than in the past and guarding against big plays.

“We haven’t had as many chunks at this time as we had a year ago,’’ Payton said. “Is that because we’re just getting softer zones? We probably are getting a little bit more. They probably are off a little bit more and we’re probably being a little more patient as we study our offense. That forces you to then complete it for six or seven and run the ball. It’s not going to happen as quickly and yet we’ll never stop attempting to get the ball down the field to various personnel.

"That’s just something that we feel is important and hopefully we can continue to find those opportunities and be creative to find personnel groupings that give you a tighter coverage. That’s the challenge.”