this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Haslett credits Saints defense for turnaround By LES EAST Special to The Advocate METAIRIE -- For New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett, the explanation for his team's dramatic, late-season turnaround is pretty simple. The Saints were 4-8 and had lost ...
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|12-28-2004, 03:12 PM||#1|
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Haslett credits defense...
Haslett credits Saints defense for turnaround
By LES EAST
Special to The Advocate
METAIRIE -- For New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett, the explanation for his team's dramatic, late-season turnaround is pretty simple.
The Saints were 4-8 and had lost three in a row, four of five, and seven of nine. But now they've won three straight games for the first time in two years and need a victory at Carolina on Sunday, coupled with either a St. Louis loss or Seattle win to get into the playoffs.
"We've played better the last three weeks," Haslett said Monday at his weekly news conference. "I think that's the bottom line, especially on the defensive side of the ball I think we've played very well. We've stopped the run very well the last couple weeks and we're getting some big plays out of our corners."
New Orleans has allowed an average of 128 rushing yards during the last three weeks after allowing an average of 152 the first 12 games. It has allowed its three lowest point totals and yardage totals of the season the last three weeks.
It matched its lowest point total in a 26-13 victory over Atlanta on Sunday in the Superdome, yielding season-lows of 267 yards and 15 first downs.
The Saints also had one of their best all-around games Sunday. Deuce McAllister rushed for 128 yards and Michael Lewis returned a kickoff 96 yards for a back-breaking touchdown in the third quarter.
New Orleans scored in the first quarter for just the third time this season, managing just three offensive points in the first period against the Falcons. The defense contributed a safety as the Saints led 5-0 entering the second quarter.
"On the offensive side we're still struggling early; someday somebody will figure that out," Haslett said. "I thought we did a good job running the ball. I still have some concerns about the passing part of it. We've been consistent in special teams the last few weeks."
New Orleans' playoff fortunes started becoming realistic as speculation mounted several weeks ago that Haslett might be fired after the season.
"Emotion-wise, I lost all the emotion about two months ago, to be honest with you," Haslett said. "I'm just enjoying coaching. I said about two months ago that I'm just going to enjoy being around these guys and coaching the players the way they should be. We're going to make it fun for the players and the coaches.
"I think the big thing is we stuck together as a group. The coaches believe in the players and the players believe in the coaches and we kind of hung in there through all the bull that we've gotten the last two months and overcame a lot, but we've still got one more to go."
After winning three games in a row, Haslett said there's no reason for the Saints to change anything this week.
"We've been in this mode for the last three weeks -- if you lose you're out, so I don't think it's going to be anything different for our guys," he said.
"We're going to come out Wednesday and try to get better in the areas we need to get better in and just keep working at it.
"I think sometimes in this business you just have to coach for the satisfaction of coaching. Sometimes the coaches and the players get too high with highs and too low with the lows.
"I'm just trying to stay on an even keel, coach the team the best way I can, try to get them to be the best players they can be, and make sure I make the right decisions so I don't put them in position to fail."
The Saints have a lengthy injury list. Safety Steve Gleason (bruised lung), tackle Wayne Gandy (knee), wide receiver DontÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â© Stallworth (hip pointer), guards Kendyl Jacox (knee), and Montrae Holland (foot and shoulder), and tight end Ernie Conwell are expected to play Sunday. Linebacker Orlando Ruff (ankle), who has missed the last two games, and safety Mel Mitchell (groin), who missed the game against the Falcons, could return this week.