PHILADELPHIA -- The 2021 Saints season has officially hit its crossroads. New Orleans is in some unfamiliar and uncharacteristic territory after losing to the Eagles on Sunday and moving to 5-5 on the year. It's the first time the team has lost three straight games since 2016, and now there's only 7 games left on the schedule to make the postseason push.
We've talked a lot about how the Saints have no margin for error, yet that is what keeps killing them and has been a true sticking point in losses this year. Yes, injuries are not ideal, and yet this is a team that is not standing behind them as a reason why they are not producing.
“I don't think the injuries caused us to lose this game today," said Mark Ingram after the game.
"I think that mistakes, turnovers, we all have our hands on it, I turn the ball over, which is unacceptable, and I have to do better as an individual to help our team have success.”
Sean Payton said the team didn't do the things necessary to win in pretty much any phase of the game, and it's true.
Getting off to a good start, or even a decent start, was essential for the Saints to beat the Eagles. Trevor Siemian knew he had an underthrown pass to Adam Trautman to open the game. He also knew he had a bad throw to Darius Slay in the two-minute drill. In the past, maybe this team could have gotten away with a turnover here and there, but not this Saints team.
Defensively, the vaunted No. 1 run defense for New Orleans got gashed against by Philadelphia. The Eagles put up 242 rushing yards, and it wasn't just Jalen Hurts killing them. It was also Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard, and it wasn't something earth-shattering that led to the success. They just got beat in the trenches.
The players have said a lot of things regarding the shortcomings, which seem to center around execution. Let's face it, there was little execution on either side of the ball in the first several quarters. If you look at the final stats, you might think the Saints were in this one. However, they weren't, and just about anything and everything that could go wrong went wrong for the team.
Being at home proved to be a huge advantage not so long ago, and the Saints have yet to find that mojo this season. It would be an ideal time to find it for the next two Thursdays with the Bills and Cowboys coming to town. The crazy part is that with the way things are shaping up across the league, New Orleans is still in a position to make a postseason run, but they're at mission critical now. They can't afford to lose more games and play catchup.
Bill Belichick once said that "Football season starts after Thanksgiving". For the Saints, that has to be their reality going into the final 7 games. A once promising start has dwindled down to now facing each week with even more urgency and importance, and New Orleans is going to have their hands full. Can they do it? It all depends on their level of execution. Will they do it? We'll see.
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