METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara said he needed to say something to his teammates after their loss Sunday because he didn't like where the mentality of the team was headed.
Instead, he encouraged them to "get their swag back" and regain their pride after a rough start to the season capped by the 42-34 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Kamara said he has been on some of the best offenses in the league during his six seasons in New Orleans, and one common thread was the players' attitude and confidence. He wasn't seeing that in this team, which has given the ball away more than any team in the league and is one of the most penalized as well.
"Even when we were down, it was never like we were looking at the score," Kamara said of the Saints in past seasons. "It was like, 'Well, all right, s---, let's go play football.' ... We haven't really been playing like that. It's been ... just of a little bit of a panic, a little bit of a, 'Oh s---, we're down.' Like man, we don't play like that. I still don't have that kind of mentality."
Kamara said the timing of his speech felt right after a frustrating loss.
"You come out of a game you feel like you should have won, you kind of have some mistakes that cost us the game and you don't feel good," Kamara said. "It's easy to kind of go in there, and it's like, that quiet. That quiet in the locker room, waiting for somebody to say something. I feel like you have a lot of those moments, but I just felt compelled to say something, so I got what I had to get off and I left it at that."
When asked why he was motivated to talk to the team, Kamara's answer was quick.
"Because! It was annoying. I'm sick of that. I'm not used to losing," Kamara said. "Nothing in life when it comes to me, I think personally, says 'loser.' You know what I'm saying? ... Even though we've had ... all these injuries and all that, I still feel like we can overcome. So when I feel like we might not be putting our best foot forward to do that, that's when I get frustrated. And that's when I'm like, 'Alright, shoot ...'
"It does so much to lead by example, but sometimes people gotta say s---. So I felt like I had to say something. ... What I said, it wasn't me talking at people. It was like, 'Shoot, hold me accountable, too.' If you don't see me with that swag and that energy and that pride I'm talking about, then tell me and call me out. Because I'm going to do the same thing to everybody on the field. Because I know what it takes to be what we want to be.
"The past six years ... we've been good. And we've been able to overcome it and we've been able to be a top offense in the league in these past couple of years. So that's what I want to get back to. And just saying that I feel like, that kind of opened some eyes. Dudes know. People know. But sometimes you need a little wake up."
Kamara used penalties as an example. If nobody corrects one penalty in practice one day, it can easily spiral into the games. He said that's why he told his team that everyone should hold one another accountable, and he thinks his message has resonated in the days since the game.
"In the profession that we're in, we know ... what's bad and what's good, what's right and what's not," Kamara said. "Sometimes it's kind of like ... it's noticed. But when nobody speaks on it, it kind of gets swept under the rug, even if it's little."
Kamara said the permanent switch to quarterback Andy Dalton over Jameis Winston might provide some stability, and he's confident they have the pieces in the locker room to get things done.
The Saints are only one game out of first place in the NFC South.
"Everybody knew what [Drew Brees] was to this team, to this city. He's gone," Kamara said. "I'm going to be gone at some point. DA's gonna be gone at some point. Cam Jordan, Demario Davis gonna be gone at some point. It don't mean that football stops for the New Orleans Saints. It's gonna keep going. Every year it's gonna be an evolution.
"... Just because 9 [Brees] isn't here, that don't really mean nothing. ... He's not in there anymore. So it's just different. The people in this locker room are the ones that have got to step up and lead and will this team to do what we want to do."