Saints working on “embarrassing” onside kick failures

Darin Gantt

The Saints are 10-2, and clinched the NFC South title on Thanksgiving. That does not mean they don’t have issues.

Specifically, they can’t seem to figure out how to recover an onside kick — which the rest of the league is fairly adept at.

The Falcons actually recovered three of them (one was negated by penalty), which had coach Sean Payton steamed.

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“It’s not good,” Payton said, via Luke Johnson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “It’s embarrassing. We’ve got to get it cleaned up.”

The Saints also allowed the Bears to recover one in Week Seven. They successfully recovered two themselves, which means they have a 40 percent success rate.

The other 31 teams in the league have recovered 31-of-33 onside attempts, a 94 percent rate of return.

Payton said the two against the Falcons were matters of “alignment and assignment.”

The first one (which was negated by a penalty) saw Alvin Kamara get the ball knocked loose. The second time, Kamara didn’t get to the ball soon enough (which NBC’s Tony Dungy referred to as a “business decision” on the broadcast). That allowed Falcons special teamer Foyesade Oluokun to get to the ball first.

When the Falcons tried it a third time, Michael Thomas was where Kamara was previously, but Oluokun came through unblocked and knocked it away.

“We’re going to have to fix that, obviously,” Payton said. “That’ll cost you a game — it almost cost us a game the other day. We’ll do whatever it takes to get that corrected and look closely at what we’re doing and who’s doing it.”

The fact they were able to hang on against the Bears and Falcons doesn’t diminish Payton’s distaste for the mistakes, as coaches love having something to harp on to motivate teams which are already in the playoffs.

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