On Monday afternoon, head coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees met with the media to discuss Sunday's 31-6 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Below is the transcript from the press conferences:
Head Coach Sean Payton
Opening Statement:"After looking at the tape, the thing that was clear was that we played with good energy. I thought how we ran the ball and how we defended the run was critical with the outcome of that game. It's never the perfect game when you go back and look at it, but you can do a lot of good things when you play with that type of intensity and our guys did that. Today is a day where they'll watch the tape and get a lift and run on their own, tomorrow of course being a day off and then we'll start back up Wednesday."
What are your thoughts on the possibility of getting Darren Sharper back this week?"We'll see. We'll see how he works out and we'll see how he practices. We'll see how the knee responds and just play it day-to-day and see the progress."
Will he practice on Wednesday?"Yes. We can now. We just have to pay attention to what we're seeing, not only in practice but the following day and the following days."
What about Clint Ingram?"We'll take the same approach right now and just evaluate as we go."
Have your concerns escalated at all with Garrett Hartley?"No. Just from watching him perform during the week, I have a ton of confidence in this player. I think we'll see in the long stretch his consistency. That's a belief in watching someone practice and watching him perform."
After watching the film, was there anything in the snap or hold that caused the miss on the field goal?"No."
Did he pull his head up a little early?"I think it would be hard for you to see if you were just watching the TV copy. We'll look closely at the follow-through, the step, the process and we'll pay attention to it. He'll be fine."
Is it odd that the mid-range kicks seem to bother him more than the ones from 40-plus yards?"Again, it's early in his career. He has real good leg strength. Like a said before, I think he has a bright future for us. We'll continue to work, just like we would with any other position group, on the consistency. He'll be as tough on himself as anyone. But I think he'll be fine."
How concerned are you with your depth in the secondary considering the injuries there?"We're nicked, but a lot of teams are this time of the year. We'll pay close attention to it as the week unfolds and make sure we have our best group available."
Were there any changes made along the offensive line in the running game that contributed to the performance yesterday? How did those guys grade out?"The group as a whole played well. We had good push from the beginning of the game really through the end of the game. Even with a lot of the down-safety defenses that Tampa plays, I thought the movement up front was substantial. All five of them graded out well, not on in the run game but in pass protection. I think the running backs then responded. When you can dial up a run on 3rd-and-4 – just a lead or a zone handoff – you're blocking them pretty well and we were able to do that."
It seemed like the runs on the first three plays set the tone for what you were able to do offensively. Was that the plan?"They were scripted. Each week we try to look closely at what we want to do with the script and certainly it was a point of emphasis. I thought our guys handled it and responded well. The first run was a cutback that Chris (Ivory) made and ended up coming back away from the intended area of where it was designed to run, but nonetheless it was a good run and it was a good game for us."
Were you able to evaluate Sharper and Ingram over the past six weeks?"Sure. Every time they go out there, we're paying attention to the report. First off, the day after and then paying attention to what we're seeing in the treatment and in the rehab and how they're moving around. When we talk medically about our players, those two names come up every day in the discussion – where they're at, timetable. We try to pay close attention to their progress."
What are the logistics of bringing them back from the PUP list with the 21-day window of when they can practice?"We have a lot of time. The first thing they have to do is pass the physical and we'll just keep monitoring their progress and seeing how they're doing. If we feel like they can help us, then we'll play them. It will be that simple."
Was the way Julius Jones was able to play after just three days of practice stem from his time in your offense previously in Dallas?"I don't know. The system, to some degree, is a little different. He is a quick study though, so I would credit the player who is very intelligent and able to come in and really grasp what we're doing, maybe quicker than a lot of players would be able to. I thought he handled the snaps he was given well. He was comfortable and gave us some good runs. He's a smart player and I think that, more than anything else – there are some similarities in the system and yet there are some differences – but I think his ability to learn is a strength. To his credit, and to (running backs coach) Bret Ingalls' credit, they were up to speed pretty quickly."
How much did attitude play into the run blocking yesterday?"It starts with ability. In other words, you can have a great attitude and get your butt kicked, but I think when you put the players' ability together with a good plan and the right ability and the attitude…like I said at the beginning, our ability to run the football and to stop the run was the one big thing in yesterday's game that anyone who was watching the game would have noticed. I think that was the biggest factor in us winning."
How's Jabari Greer?"He's good. We'll go through all the series of tests and see where he's at on Wednesday and keep you guys updated like we always do."
How did Danny Clark play?"Pretty good. He had just under 25 snaps in the base. It was the first time that he had an extended group of reps. With Scott (Shanle) being out, he and (Jo-Lonn) Dunbar and all those guys got a lot of reps, particularly later in the game when we were able to rest (Jonathan) Vilma. But he did a solid job."
Is there any philosophy in using Sharper or Ingram right away in a game since they haven't practiced with pads on in a long time? Do they need to make their way into game shape?"There's no set philosophy. I think we'll really just pay attention to what we're seeing at practice and evaluate the snaps that we're seeing. Certainly from being game-ready, you take that into account, but truly we have to look at each practice and then look at the next day and use our best judgment."
Is how they come out of practices something you want to evaluate?"Yes. No question. The practice itself, the next day, the following day. Getting back into the drills will be important."
How did the game yesterday compare to the team you got used to seeing last season?"It's one win. It represents that one unit. It was good, especially that it was a division game. We had discussed last week the importance of playing your division opponents. Hopefully we can build on it, but it was important being that it was the third division game that we've played already. In other words we've had a chance to play all three teams and it's an important game when you play those games in your division. Certainly when a team like Atlanta loses, you pay attention to all that and yet you know that you're sitting here really one-third of the way – we have so much ahead of us here – and we're going to have to continue to work and do some things better and get ready for this next game."
After seeing it on tape, what was your reaction to the double personal foul call on Malcolm Jenkins?"The initial hit was very close. The officials, I'm sure, are going to err on the side of caution."
When you looked at the film, did that look more like last year's team to you than the previous five games?"We don't look at it and try to compare this year's team to last year's team. We just try to look at it and say, 'Are we making progress? Are we getting better? Do we feel like there was improvement? Are we playing as well as we feel like we can play?' Typically when you win a game like that, there are a lot of things that you're excited about and when you put the film on, there are some things still that you have to clean up and it kind of brings you back to the middle. But that being said, in the division and on the road, the way that we were able to get the running game going and the way we played defensively defending the run, there were a lot of good things. I thought our coverage units played very well as well."
Did Patrick Robinson play well again?"He sure did. He was involved in a lot of plays on the ball and he keeps getting better."
Where do you see Chris Ivory fitting in when Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas come back?"We'll see. You just can't have enough guys that can play at that position. Even yesterday there was a series or two where he was cramping up. But those are good challenges to have. When a younger player can step up and play as well as he did with the injuries to Pierre and Reggie, that was encouraging. And to see Ladell (Betts) and to see Julius Jones, those guys played well and that's a positive."
Is Ivory's skill set similar to any of the running backs that you've had here previously?"He's more of a runner and maybe not the same threat as a receiver. Certainly he's a different type of back than a couple of these guys that we have right now on the roster. He has power and he can finish his runs. He has pretty good speed but he runs low and is a physical player. There were some hard yards yesterday that I thought he did a good job with on some carries. It's not often that you see them going the other direction, and that was encouraging."
What has Jimmy Graham been able to do to deserve an expanded role in the offense?"We just keep looking for roles for these guys. He's a big target and gives you red zone or third down options. He had the offensive pass interference call – which was a good call, it happened in practice and he has to learn some of the subtleties about the game – but he is a big target and we just have to keep paying attention to the things that we think he does well."
Did you give any thought to playing Chase Daniel late in the game?"Not really."
Have you had any recent conversations with Tony Romo?"No. I really haven't had a chance to see those guys, for whatever reason, whether we're traveling. You get the scores just like everyone else, but we have enough of our own problems here that we're working on. So I have not, and I really haven't seen much of their games either."
Could the way that the game went in Arizona have helped correct things given the way you played yesterday?"I wouldn't say that any loss is a positive that gets you pushed in the right direction. That was a tough loss and hopefully we learned from some of the lessons in that game. But the following week, the response that was encouraging was how we worked on Wednesday, how we worked on Thursday and how we prepared on Friday. That's the thing that gets you excited about coming to work. When it becomes more challenging and tougher, that's one of the things that our players do a good job with."
QB Drew Brees
*Do you think that this performance on Sunday puts the offense back on track? *"I hope so. We still have a lot of things we need to continue to work on, but I think there were some encouraging things. We were able to run the football and throw the football. (It was) probably the most balanced effort we had all season. I think Chris Ivory continues to gain confidence and run the ball. Obviously he had a huge day yesterday. Ladell Betts had another solid performance. Julius Jones is getting into the mix and doing a great job. (We were) spreading the ball around in the passing game. I think it's one of those games for us offensively for us to build on. (There were) a lot of good things. I'm still feeling like we left a little bit on the field. I wish we could have had a touchdown or two more."
What do you see Chris Ivory's role being upon the return of Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas?"I don't know. We'll just have to see. We'll see when we get those guys back and then how things are flowing, but I felt like we had a great one, two, three, four punch last year when you talk about Pierre, Reggie and Mike Bell and then Lynell Hamilton. We used all those guys. At times, one out of the four are going to be nicked up, so if Reggie and Pierre come back, I don't know how that affects the guys we've brought in, Ladell Betts, Julius Jones and Chris Ivory, but there's a place for all those guys. We'll see how it shakes out, but obviously all of them can help us."
When you have a game like yesterday, is that more play-calling or just the effort overall?"There's always effort. It's just a matter of the game plan and how it's executed. We overcame a few penalties yesterday, on the first two drives really. We got the offsides and delay of game and then the touchdown to Lance (Moore) and we overcame it. The next drive we had the offsides and overcome that with the touchdown to (Robert) Meachem. We overcame those penalties. You don't always overcome those. We can't just excuse those. Those have to be corrected. We laid two balls on the ground yesterday, fumbles that thankfully went out of bounds, but we have to secure that. Obviously with the interception at the end of the half, those are points. We were going down to get three points. We always try to avoid that."
Does Chris Ivory have more wheels than you thought?"He's surprised a lot of people in our building with the way that his speed and ability to pull away from the pack as he comes around the corner. We see him as a big back, a big, powerful, physical back. He got on the edge a few times and there are guys on the other team with speed and he's getting to the corner on them or he's pulling past them, so not only did he surprise them, he surprised some of us with that with his speed, straight line speed"
What did Tampa Bay do that allowed you to get downfield more in the passing game?"We threw a couple balls downfield, obviously hit two big ones, one in each of the first two drives for touchdowns. I think that was just execution. It was also the situation and just being prepared for it."
Did Sean Payton have his best game of the season calling plays yesterday?"I thought he did a great job. There was a great flow. If you look at our time of possession for each drive, they're very consistent and the plays we were running in and out of the huddle, I thought our tempo was great. You could see that we were balanced as the game went on. It was a little hotter and humid out there than we've experience, so I felt like we got on them, stayed on them and imposed our will and physical nature. We were able to get some really solid gains in the running game and we made a few big plays in the passing game too."
Can you talk about the decision to run the ball three straight times at the start of the game and popping off some nice runs there?"We wanted to set the tone and we just know the importance of the run game. Obviously not only the success we had last year, but just moving forward. You can't be one dimensional in this league. You have to be able to do both. You need to have a healthy mix and balance too. There's going to be those games where we're not going to rush for 200 yards a game like we did yesterday, so you need to have those times where the pass is going to pull you through or the rush is going to pull you through, but all in all at the end of the season you look at it, sit down and see you did a great job with getting four or five yards a pop, some big gains here and there and obviously the passing game was very efficient for some big gains as well."
Your defense has done a great job the past few weeks of taking the run away from opponents. How difficult is that when someone does it to you?"Whenever you can make an offense one dimensional, you become more predictable. If you're able to run and pass, obviously you step up to the ball and as a defense you're going "Are they going to run it or throw it?" Is it going to be short or deep, whereas, obviously if you're going to take something away you become more predictable and it becomes a little easier to defend. That's why we make such an emphasis on running and throwing, not only short but deep and a different mix of the different zone running schemes that we have. We're going to run inside. We're going to run outside. We have the stable of backs, all of them having different strengths that we can utilize. That makes it hard, because I think defenses certainly gameplan to the runner that's in the game."
When you look at the conference picture right now and see five teams with the same record including yourselves do you see that it's all out there for you guys right now?"Yes. It was last week. It was the week before. Obviously as you look it now, is there a one loss team in the NFC right now? Everybody has two losses or more, whereas we were 6-0 last year. I think the Vikings were 6-0 at this point. Maybe there were some one loss teams. It just shows the parity in the league too. There are a lot of good football teams. On any given Sunday and as the saying goes, anybody can beat anybody. You see it every week. For us, just to know that it's out there for the taking. Obviously we went into the season feeling that way. Really nothing's going to change that mentality for us. We're a confident group. We have some swagger. We know how good we are and how good we can be. We still don't feel like we've scratched the surface to where we can go as a football team. I feel like yesterday was definitely a step in the right direction in all phases. That was a good win on the road against a 3-1 football team in our division. That's a positive."
Is it possible that the Arizona loss had a sharpening effect on this team?"Look to last year. We lose the last three games, albeit we rested a lot of starters against Carolina. It was the same type of thing, everybody asking the questions you guys were asking last week. Where did the offense go? Where did all the points and big plays go? What's happening to this team? We do our thing. We come to work and focus on the process. We understand if we take care of that, the result takes care of itself. We band together. We stick together, despite injuries. We have guys nicked up. We were in that stage last year just like that stage this year. You find a way to weather through that. You get some young guys experience that otherwise might not have gotten much to this point and they might be playing more as we go forward. You have to look at every game, every scenario, albeit it might stink at the time like the Arizona game last week. It stunk real bad, but you have to use it as a positive, which I feel like we did and we came out and had our best performance of the year thus far."
What additional versatility does Julius Jones bring to this team?"I've only had a few practices with him and just one game, but I like his veteran presence. He's calm, cool, collected. He's played. This will be his seventh season. He's played in some big games. He's played with some good offenses with Dallas and Seattle, so I think all those things help. He's been with Sean (Payton) before for two years in Dallas. This system is not totally foreign to him. There's a lot of carryover and similarities. I think his mentality too is "wherever I can help". If you need me to run it inside, outside, pass protect, catch the ball, run it out of the backfield, I'll do whatever I can to contribute. That's what you're looking for in veteran guys. Ladell Betts has been the same way. "Whatever I can do to help us win I'll do."
Are you a father for the second time yet?"I'm still a father of one. Any day now or any second."
What do you think of the propensity in yesterday's NFL games to have some hard hits leading with the helmet or helmet to helmet hits by defensive players around the league?"I saw the Dunta Robinson hit that put both guys down for a while. You just hope guys are okay. It's a violent sport. It's a rough sport. There are times where guys are trying to do what is the legal thing to do. They show all those things. Guys are trying to do what is the legal thing to do mainly. All of a sudden there's a helmet to helmet shot or whatever the case might be. It's just unfortunate. You just hope that all of these guys are okay and there are no serious injuries or long-term effects because of it."
What is the latest status with your wife?"No baby yet, any second really. The due date is today. I'm on high alert. I have the cell phone with me at all times. I bring it in the weight room and just wait until the time comes. It could be today. It could be tomorrow, a couple days from now. We'll see."