London – Mark Ingram called it a business trip.
It was a week-long trip that saw the New Orleans Saints travel more than 4,600 miles across the pond to England.
Yes, players have the opportunity to go sightseeing, watch football, shop and enjoy international food. Many of them bring their families to enjoy the experience.
But for all the memories they leave behind and all the photos you take, this trip will inevitably be remembered for one and only one thing: when the Saints played against the Minnesota Vikings in an 8 o’clock game The game-time performance takes place at the lavish Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 30am on Sunday.
This will determine whether this is really a business trip.
If the Saints win, all the frustrations of the past two weeks will be forgotten and fans’ hopes for a promising season can be restored. The back-to-back losses of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers may not be as stinging and will look a little further in the rearview mirror.
A loss for the Saints, however, would drop them to 1-3. This leaves people scratching their heads and doubting all the lofty expectations of the team.
So it’s really better that it’s a business trip, otherwise the Saints will be flying across the Atlantic more scratching their heads than when they flew from Charlotte, North Carolina to the Panthers last week.
They’re hoping for a chance this week to bond without the distractions of home, and this game has a chance to help them get back on track.
“Obviously you don’t want to lose two games in a row,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “I think any time you can stay with the team for a week or so, and it’s just us, it feels like training camp is starting all over again. I think it’s good to have those days when we just meet. I really hope this couples It’s our advantage so that we can spit this bad taste out of our mouths.”
Boy, it doesn’t taste good now.
With the exception of the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons in the season opener, New Orleans’ offense has been dismal. Turnover. penalty. Passport protection. A key player is injured. It’s all part of a disaster.
This week, the offense will be without Michael Thomas, Andrews Pitt and James Winston, who was ruled out Sunday’s game after missing all week with back and ankle injuries.
Andy Dalton, a veteran who’s well-positioned to fill the void, will get his first start as a Saints and perhaps provide momentum on the offensive end.
The Special Forces aren’t much better either.
So far, only the defense has played a role.
“We have to pay more attention to detail,” Ingram said. “Tap our i and cross our t.”
You hate to call the fourth game of the season a make or break, but it’s almost like a game.
History tells us that the Saints had a poor start to seasons 1-3. The last three times they did this was in 2014-16, and each time they finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
Since the Saints first made the playoffs in 1987, they have gone 1-3 or 0-4 14 times. They made the playoffs only twice (1990 and 2000). Only the 1989 team didn’t make the playoffs, and the 2000 team was over .500 after losing three of its first four games.
The game is all the more crucial as the Saints are two weeks away from their schedule, which could be as difficult as pedestrians trying to cross the streets of London. This is a team looking for consistency.
“Atlanta’s game? That’s not our standard,” Cameron Jordan said of the defense. “Tampa race? That’s not our standard. The last game (Carolina)? That’s not our standard. You can’t ride a roller coaster. Flattening the keel is exactly what we need to do.”
The Saints had a similar one-week stay in London five years ago. Like this one, they flew directly over the pond from Charlotte. The only difference is that they beat Carolina that year. The Saints then traveled to London, shutting the Miami Dolphins out, and won the next six games since then — a total of eight straight.
“We know what kind of people we have,” Ingram said. “We’re so good, so talented, and we’re going to get these things going in the right direction.”
If Dalton starts as expected, it will be the second time he faces current Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in London. Back in 2016, Dalton played for Cincinnati and Cousins played for Washington, and the two teams were tied 27-27.
“Both teams had a chance, but we didn’t get it done,” Dalton recalled. “It’s a weird feeling, coming all the way to London and ending in a draw. But everyone here is used to it because they’re used to all the connections in football. So they don’t think about anything.”
Chances are, there won’t be a draw this time around.
One team will win.
The other will lose.
For the Saints, only one of these results could make this a true business trip.