Saints Vikings Football

New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen, right, waits for a replay review during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

To Dennis Allen, there was no “a-ha” moment when the New Orleans Saints coach sat down to conduct a thorough review of the team’s first 10 games over the bye week.

But Allen said he did come away with plenty of observations.

Allen said Monday that getting New Orleans’ defense back on track was among the Saints’ priorities, and that he was able to identify a “few things” on how to correct the issues. The Saints (5-5) return from the bye with a crucial division game on deck as they prepare to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

“We've been a little bit of a tale of two teams in that the first part of the season, we struggled offensively, the first five games and defensively played pretty well,” Allen said. “That's flipped a little bit over the last five weeks. … We need to get back to playing the type of defense that we played earlier in the season.

“That was probably the biggest thing that stood out to me.”

Allen said he wasn’t going to divulge specifics on what potential fixes he and his staff identified. But there’s plenty to correct. Slow starts, explosive plays allowed and the lack of a pass rush have been the main reasons why the Saints’ defense has not played up to its usual standard of late. In the last four games, for instance, the unit has surrendered two touchdowns and a field goal on its opening drive.

Allen also used the time off to evaluate starting quarterback Derek Carr’s performance through the first 10 games. Allen said he was happy with the veteran’s development in the offense.

“As the season’s gone on, I’ve seen an improvement out of Derek,” Allen said. “Overall, he’s been efficient. I mean, he’s protected the ball. He’s been able to take some shots down the field when they present themselves. And so, I think like a lot of our team, I think we’d still like to see more consistency in the passing game. There’s a lot of elements to get rid of that.

“But I think overall, Derek has done a good job.”

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