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Head Coach Sean Payton Press Conference

    <span>New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Opening Statement:

"Much of what we talked about last night applies in this game. I thought defensively we played with great energy and with great effort. I thought we did a great job. There were a couple of plays in there, but overall I was real encouraged with our fits, our effort and how we tackled. It was probably one of our best games to date, if not our best game to date, defensively. On the other hand, the disappointing thing was the turnovers and the penalties, which I alluded to a little bit yesterday. They ended up hurting us in this game. We had opportunities to go ahead. We had opportunities a number of different times. Those cost you positions, and in a game where you're really looking at anything from 10-to-14 possessions, those are drive-killers and they were for us last night. It was a tough loss. We have to move forward and get ready to play Oakland on a short week. Most of our day will be spent in preparation for Oakland. We'll move the schedule back for our players tomorrow where they'll be coming in at one o'clock and meeting as team and we'll get right into the Oakland gameplan so tomorrow's schedule will be a little bit altered. That one o'clock meeting will be much like an eight o'clock meeting on a normal Wednesday."

How is Tracy Porter?

"We'll know more here later. His wrist was dislocated; he had a procedure done to put it back in place, so we'll have announcement soon in regards to the timeframe. Right now I don't want to speculate, but I know the procedure went well. I think it may have been done last night, if not this morning. I know he was taken to the hospital last night and he's still in the hospital and will be released today."

Is that the kind of injury that a defensive back might be able to play with?

"We'll see. He required surgery to get it back in place, which is not good."

Was the coverage good on that touchdown play where he was injured?

"It was a zero blitz, an all-out blitz, and (Bernard) Berrian made a good play. I don't think he was the guy that Gus (Frerotte) was throwing it to, but the quarterback was able to hold the ball for a count longer than you would want when you commit that many people to the rush. We were just a hair wide with some alignments. But they made a good play and that was a big play. It's hard looking at the film – there were so many positives in regards to how we played defensively – more so than I maybe even thought of coming off the field last night. That was encouraging and we have to build on that. Offensively and the blocked kick that was returned for a touchdown, those are things that will hurt you and it did last night."

Was there too much penetration on the blocked field goal or was the kick low?

"There was penetration in the right 'A' gap. It's hard to tell as far as the trajectory, but the block came from the right 'A' gap."

Is Martín Gramatica still your guy at kicker?

"I'm not ready to answers questions about who my guys are right now. It's the day after the game and I know better."

Are you bringing in kickers for tryouts this week?

"I don't think we're in a position where we're going to bring in kickers for tryouts. We have a pretty good idea of who else is available. I'm not sure if Martín is 100% healthy right now, let alone whether he's my guy, so we'll see."

When Taylor Mehlhaff was cut, was there any thought of bringing him back on the practice squad?

"Yes. It's just hard to hold a practice squad spot for a kicker. He's still available, though."

What did you see on film of the play that resulted in the pass interference call late in the game?

"There are a number of plays…it wasn't one that you would scream and shout about. There are tough calls in the game, but in the end there were a number of things that were in our control that we didn't do a good job with. Just looking at the tape, a bunch of those penalties are ones where we're hurting ourselves. We're not looking for excuses or looking to make excuses. Between the turnovers and the penalties, that was enough for three games, let alone one game."

You made a reference after the game about "repeat offenders"…

"We're not talking about first-year players now. We're talking about a home game and not being able to go on the right snap count and that bothers me."

Do you anticipate any lineup changes?

"Nothing to announce right now."

Can you recall being a part of a game where you were minus-4 in turnovers and gave up a score in the kicking game and still had a chance to win?

"The last interception obviously came at the last play of the game, but to answer your question, no. Generally, if you play that sloppy it's hard to win. We were in the game because Reggie Bush returned two punts for touchdowns, which was outstanding. But we didn't play well enough on offense, and specifically the field goal unit – that's a 10-point swing. You go from a field goal to a touchdown the other way and those are things that hurt you. With the turnovers like that – like I said, it's enough for two or three games and even then it's high."

Would you have liked to have had a better run-pass balance or did you plan on throwing the ball as much as you did?

"The plan going in was to throw it more. We were going to be aggressive throwing it. We just felt like that was going to provide us with the best chance to move the ball consistently and we felt like with the way the quarterback has been playing that that was the best way to approach this game. We saw a little bit more two-cover early in the game and then started getting some zone pressures. We had trouble blocking some of the zone pressures that we started seeing and once they saw that we had trouble blocking it, they kept giving it to us and Drew got hit and hurried a lot. From that aspect, we didn't do a good job of handling it. We were able to run the ball a little later in the game, utilizing the clock and also trying to think about either a touchdown or possibly a field goal late. Again, we weren't able to finish and that's disappointing."

What can the cumulative effect of so many of these kind of losses be?

"The players are going to look to us – they're going to look to the coaching staff and also to the leaders on this team and certainly they understand that there's a ton of football left but we have to make those corrections. We have to get ready to play this game. Like I said, it's on a short week but we have to get guys healthy and get ready to play a team that is coming off a bye and themselves will be rested and ready. The turnaround is going to be important and how we approach the week of practice is going to be important – all those things will be important to make sure that we're sharp physically and mentally to play this next game and that we're not carrying prior games with us into it. That's important."

Was last year's 0-4 start worse than this?

"I think so. Losing is tough – 2-3 is 2-3 and it's disappointing in that the losses all came real close but nonetheless it is what it is. The quickest way I know how to get rid of that feeling and to get going again is to put some wins together. You can't put wins together without getting the first one, so it starts well with playing well in this Oakland game, it starts with eliminating the turnovers and the penalties. You'd think we were playing on the road when you watched the film and the way guys were moving and that's frustrating."

Do you feel the team will be in better shape health-wise going into this game?

"It would be early to speculate where we're at. Our goal with some of these players is Carolina, so we'll see as it pertains to Oakland."

Would you try to get Jeremy Shockey out there this weekend?

"We'll see. It's too early. It's Tuesday and we haven't done anything, so we'll see where we're at with all of these guys."

How frustrating was the last offensive series before the missed field goal?

"At that point in the game there was plenty of time for both teams, really. You had the two-minute warning and both teams had timeouts – I had three and they had two. The key was trying to sustain the drive and win the game without being too cute. We used one of the timeouts there to get the formation squared away and basically on second and third down we weren't able to convert so we attempted the field goal. That sequence is obviously frustrating and missing the field goal is frustrating.

"Not to be jumping subjects, but I thought our defense really came to play. By and large, when you look at the body of work they did a pretty good job against a real good running back."

Do you feel like there is only so much a coach can do in terms of teaching discipline?

"I think the worst thing to do would be to say that there's only so much we can do. There evidently hasn't been enough yet. When you start looking at some of these pre-snap penalties and the holding calls and the missed assignments – we turned some guys loose yesterday and the quarterback got hit, and not just from the offensive line's perspective. There were a number of areas where we had mental errors and that has to get corrected. Whether it comes from the line; whether it comes from the tight end position; whether it comes outside or at the running back position; those are things that we have to get corrected and those are things that we have to do a better job with."

What happened on the blitz from Antoine Winfield?

"It was cover-two and he came almost as a reactionary and we just didn't…we were in a formation where we had two guys over there – a tight end and Billy Miller as the wing tight end and we turned him loose."

Did Drew Brees face a lot of consistent pressure?

"I thought early we did a pretty good job of protecting him and then there was a point in which we started getting a little bit more zone pressure and they got away from just playing coverage exclusively and then throughout the second half there was a guy in his face, a guy coming clean. We let some guys run free without even blocking them and we have to get that corrected. For him to be able to operate and to play as well as he has been playing, we have to at least put the right hat on the right hat. That's something that is concerning."

How disappointed were you in Robert Meachem for lining up incorrectly?

"When you look at the scope of things, there were about 25 other things that fall ahead of Robert Meachem aligning on or off the ball. Obviously, he needs to be able to line up the correct way but there are a number of things. I would have liked to have seen him catch the ball on the third down before the blocked field goal – it was a good throw in the window of the coverage, but there's enough of this to go around in that loss. The positives were how we played and hustled and tackled on defense. The positives were how we returned punts and kickoffs and creating field position or created points in the return game and that's an area where we've really struggled a lot around here. Those would be the two or three things that come to mind. But the negatives are spread throughout, be it the penalties and turnovers on offense. Getting back to the things that we have to get cleaned up, they cross a lot of position groups and that's the thing that is most important right now."

How is your blood pressure after a game like that?

"My wife asked me that and I'm fine. I'm disappointed for the players. It's tough; it's tough losing. It's tough losing when there are parts of your plan and guys that play well. It's tough putting in an effort like we did defensively and not coming away with the win. I'm as much disappointed for them as anything. It's frustrating and you want to as best you can turn over all the leaves and rocks to make sure that you're doing the best job possible and that's why I think it always has to start internally. What can I do better? What can we do better as a staff as we prepare this week to help our team? That's the approach we have to take."

How do you think Brian Young did filling in for Sedrick Ellis?

"I thought he did pretty well considering the amount of snaps he had; he played a lot. He hung in there. He got more snaps than we would have liked to have given him because Antwan Lake came out with his groin, but I think the he hung in there and battled."

After the missed facemask call, were you just hoping to vent or was there some clarification that you were looking for?

"You have a chance to visit with the referee and I wanted to visit with him. There was nothing that could be done with it. It wasn't a challenge or anything; I just wanted to see what they saw."

Does Reggie Bush seem to be playing at a faster speed this year?

"He was nicked up a year ago, but he has been pretty healthy and effective. I think you're seeing a guy who is playing real well. In each of these games that we've played he has made a difference in some way, shape or form. His speed on the field, his balance – he single-handedly turned the game around last night and that was great to see. It's great to see the work that he has put in paying off and I think he's playing outstanding right now. We have to keep finding ways to get him the football."

Is there any other reason for his improved play besides health?

"It's everything that we have talked about to date. I think he has a great grasp of his role and where he's at. He has worked extremely hard in the offseason to prove himself – not just to other people but to himself – and he has been real effective."

Was that the best performance from the special teams you've had?

"Like I said, one of the positives was the return game. Obviously as a punt return team we did a good job and the kick return units provided us good with field position. Those were real positives."

Is Billy Miller OK?

"I think he's alright."

What about Buck Ortega?

"Same. I think he tweaked his ankle but he's going to be alright."

Is Joey Harrington coming back to the roster?

"We'll see. We had to make the roster move yesterday to get Buck up."

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