Before the 2023 NFL season, it was widely thought the NFC South would be the NFL's "easiest" division to claim as far as win-loss records are concerned. That thought has come to fruition; the 5-6 Atlanta Falcons moved into first place in the South after besting the 5-6 New Orleans Saints this past weekend.
The loss was the second straight for Dennis Allen's club. Allen, who went 7-10 during his first season as New Orleans' head coach, sent a stern message to his team that was coated in desperation and urgency.
"I think it is critically urgent," Allen said when discussing his team's need to get things turned around, via Pro Football Talk. "I think the message to the team was, 'That's unacceptable, we've got to be better.' But just because we stand up here and we're able to talk in a tone and in a way that doesn't necessarily say that we understand the sense of urgency, I can certainly appreciate the question and I can appreciate the fans' urgency and I can assure you that the people inside the building feel the same sense of urgency."
Sunday's loss was especially frustrating for Allen. The Saints scored just 15 points despite piling up 444 yards of total offense. A lack of execution on critical third downs led to New Orleans having to settle for five field goals by Blake Grupe. Derek Carr especially struggled in those situations, with his biggest mistake being a pick-six to Jessie Bates III that came after New Orleans' defense made a big fourth-down stop.
The offense's inability to put touchdowns on the board overshadowed a solid performance from Allen's defense. It was specifically a good game for safety Tyrann Mathieu, who recorded two interceptions.
"It was frustrating that we weren't able to capitalize on the opportunities we had," Allen said. "That was frustrating. ... We've got to coach better and we've got to play better."