METAIRIE, La. — The joking began Sunday night, moments after the Saints had polished off the Bucs, their divisional rivals.
Asked about how they would handle going on the road, where they’ve struggled this season, the players began listing things they could change, ranging from the Gatorade to the sauce in the pre-game meal to their travel sweat suits.
There’s one thing about the jokes, however.
They’re not jokes. The players and coaching staff are dead serious that they’ll be changing all of these things.
“We understand our last three outings on the road have not been our best performances,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Wednesday. “At times you know you do have to kind of change things up so psychologically (and) you say it is going to be different this time around.”
It has been well-established that the Saints haven’t been themselves on the road this season. They allow seven more points and score 17 fewer away from the city.
Six of Brees’ 12 interceptions have come in three road games while only 12 of his 39 touchdown passes were tossed in an opponent’s stadium.
So why stick with the old when it hasn’t necessarily worked.
After being defiant and then honest about it, the team has turned to joking about the issue.
Coach Sean Payton referenced changing sweat suits five times Wednesday, switching up the Gatorade three times and using a different beefy mac recipe twice.
He even offered to send an ESPN reporter one of the team’s new, heavier travel sweat suits.
“Those are significant changes,” Payton said. “We changed our Gatorade color. That’s a big deal. The night before, what you eat – that’s a big deal. The sweat suits. Those other ones were getting kind of raggedy to begin with anyway.”
And it’s not just the road troubles that Payton was quick to use the new routine with; the Saints are 1-3 under him when temperatures are 32 degrees or below.
He was asked how the team’s preparation for the cold-weather night they’ll face.
“Once they try on the sweat suits, I think they’re going to realize, man, the way they fit …. You ought to see them. They’re pretty special.”
When asked in the locker room about hem, Saints safety Roman Harper said he hadn’t seen them. But he did hope they were all white because, you know, he has to look good in them.
But those aren’t the only changes.
For the first time this season, the players stretched and went through individual drills early in practice while music blared from the speakers.
The music choices, mostly rap and hip hop, were Payton’s choice, the coach said. Linebacker Curtis Lofton wasn’t so sure, saying he didn’t hear any Kenny Chesney.
Regardless, the defensive captain was happy with the idea of having music on the field for practice.
“I think adding the element of the music kind of gives you a little juice,” Lofton said. “Towards the end of the year, well this is a new season, but things get redundant and that added juice to us and we definitely liked having music out there.”
For veteran safety Roman Harper, he’ll take whatever change he can because he knows what they’ve done lately hasn’t worked.
“We’ve got to do some different things because things that we’ve done in the past so far is not winning us games,” Harper said. “Anything we can do to kind of change up the attitude, personality-wise and just make this road trip worth it. It’s only a good road trip when you win these and we’ve got to go up and get it.”