Saints defense trying to solve turnover drought

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 20, 2013 at 2:26 am •  Published: December 20, 2013

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins has played football for a long time, and it's his experience that forcing turnovers is about goals and priorities.

That's why he thinks New Orleans needs to go back to the way it used to play defense.

During the past seven games, the Saints have forced two turnovers — a league low during that span. Now they're trying to figure out what has changed since their first seven games, when they forced 15 turnovers.

Jenkins reflects back to New Orleans' 2009 defense, which helped the Saints win a Super Bowl while creating 39 turnovers in the regular season and eight in the postseason under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

"We used to emphasize it all the time; we used to eat, sleep and breathe turnovers," Jenkins said. "You look at the defense now and really the only guys that were here from Gregg Williams' time is me and Roman (Harper) and everybody else is new.

"We can't assume everybody knows the importance of it. ... We're trying to get back to harping it all the time, doing it on every play, holding guys accountable and that way you build that culture back up where it's just second nature."

Coach Sean Payton often holds up the turnover margin as one of the most important indicators of wins and losses.

The Saints won six of their first seven games when the turnovers were flowing, and have lost three of their past seven since the turnover spigot all but turned off.

"We've got to get that fixed," said middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, a defensive captain. "We've got to give more possessions to our offense."

This is a week when New Orleans knows it could really use a few extra possessions. The Saints are on the road — where all four of their losses have come this season.

With a win at Carolina, New Orleans would wrap up the NFC South and No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. With a loss, the Saints would fall a game behind the Panthers, and could wind up with a wild-card spot, or even risk missing the playoffs if they also lose to Tampa Bay in Week 17.

When the Saints last faced Carolina in New Orleans two weeks ago, they won 31-13 without forcing a turnover, but did sack Panthers quarterback Cam Newton five times.

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