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Vikings vs. Saints: What We Learned

One quarter of the season is officially down for the Saints after losing to the Vikings, and we look at a few things we learned from the team in London.

LONDON -- The Saints are a tough team to figure out right now. On one hand, Sunday's loss to the Vikings gave us plenty of good moments that were encouraging from the offense. On the other hand, there's really no moral victories after the team sunk to 1-3. Here's a few things we learned from New Orleans on Sunday in London.

Mistakes Are The Saints' Own Worst Enemy

10 penalties for 102 yards and 2 fumbles lost for the Saints on Sunday. Whether you agree or disagree with the calls, the fact remains that this team keeps shooting themselves in the foot over and over again. Yes, some of the penalties were hard to agree with, and Dennis Allen and some of the players weighed in accordingly on them. However, the turnovers and penalties have been too common in these first four games, and they simply have to be fixed. How does that work?

Dennis Allen said after the game, "Well, look, I think we have to make a point of emphasis about it. I think we also have to look at who is doing what and where. I wasn't a fan of some of the calls but it hurt us in the game."

"We have to look at who is handling the ball. The problems been a little bit, it's been a multitude of players. And so we are going to have to continue to evaluate that. We are going to have to put in some more turnover drills and things of that nature and try to emphasize the point that we have to protect the football."

The Saints feel that this is all correctable, but the team has already coughed up the ball 11 times this season, something that's been highly uncharacteristic with the team. How does Allen see it get fixed? 

"Yeah, look, I think some of that's, you know, kind of the consistency of cadence and things of that nature. I think that's part of it, consistency with some of the people that are in there is part of it. So we'll take a look at it. We'll take a look at the tape and see where we can make corrections."

The first quarter of the season has come and gone, and this is something that simply has to get fixed if the Saints want to turn things around.

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The Offense CAN Move the Ball

We saw a much better effort on offense from the Saints on Sunday, which was an encouraging sign. They did that despite being down four starters in Jameis Winston (back/ankle), Alvin Kamara (rib), Michael Thomas (toe), and Andrus Peat (concussion). Allen said after the game that there was not setback for Kamara, but that he was in a bit more pain and discomfort going back to last week.

"Again, this is a long season, so you don't want to go through this cyclical thing where each week it's an issue and so I think we felt like resting him this week, hopefully to be able to have him back for next week. Gives him the best chance to be healthy throughout the year."

As for Winston, Allen said that he felt better towards the end of the week, but felt that they needed to get Andy Dalton ready to go. They'll re-evaluate Winston's health this week, and we'll see whether or not he plays against the Seahawks. 

Dalton's first start saw him finish 20-of-28 for 236 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked twice and had the costly fumble, but played fine overall. There's at least one throw to Chris Olave that he would have wanted back, because if that's thrown on target, it's a touchdown. No one should be ready to talk about a quarterback controversy, but it will be something to see if things continue the way they do. It was also a refreshing sign to see Latavius Murray perform so well when he was called upon.

Encouraging Signs

We saw Taysom Hill throwing at practice and taking quarterback reps all week, but the fact is that he was doing a good bit of everything on Sunday. He got one of the team's touchdowns through a rush attempt, but was also playing on the punt and kickoff teams. He also lined up for several routes. The Saints are a much more dynamic offense with Hill in the lineup, so it's good to see him back in full force.

Paulson Adebo was officially back in a full capacity, and while it may not have been the best outing, it was a great sign for him going forward. For the third straight game, we've seen Chris Olave lead the team in receiving yards and targets. The rookie is much further along that we probably anticipated, and the Offensive Rookie of the Month Award was pretty well-deserved.

Finally, the Saints did not let Dalvin Cook beat them on the ground, and they got the pass rush going again. There's still some room for improvement, and undoubtedly the success Justin Jefferson had on the day was concerning, but it's good to see the defense continuing to make adjustments and keep this team in games.

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