SAINTS HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON
"I felt like honestly, we left a lot of points off the board. I thought the call at the end of the first half on the punt return was terrible. It should have been a touchdown. But I was proud of how we played, and it was a good win, a good road win."
Can you talk about the challenge of putting the game plan together offensively with so many key parts not available?
"Look, I said during the week that's what we're paid to do. And it's always, there's always going to be some flux. So, find the roles for guys, what we felt guys could do well. We stumbled a little bit in the red zone. I thought defensively we were outstanding again. We didn't allow a rushing first down, I don't think. We knew we were playing a good return team. They had the kickoff return. That kind of brought the game closer. But I thought, as the second half went on, I thought clearly, we out-rushed them. We won that battle up front. That was significant. You win that, you're going to win most of the games."
Did you all see something in their punt block early?
"No, I can't -- I just know we were rushing eight based on -- the down and distance was one you have to be careful you're not going to allow a fake. So, it wasn't a called block, though. It was a good play. And unfortunately, we weren't able to fall on it."
A lot of things worked for you that the play was (indiscernible) hesitation?
Did you work on that?
"Yes, it was a short yardage call."
Go back to week two and how dominant this defense has been, would you say they exceeded your expectations?
"No, we're not prognosticators or predictors, we're just trying to improve each week. I say that we feel like there's more out there. I think they're playing with a lot of confidence right now. It's hard to win games if you can't rush the football with any type of consistency. I thought we stopped the run. And as that game wore on, we ran the ball well."
What gave you the confidence to stick with (indiscernible) the run game and keep going with it even though --
Early in it there (indiscernible) things that were --
"Listen, I thought, look, if you go back, I had a couple bone-headed calls. But I thought we ran the ball pretty efficiently. The outside play I called, somewhere in the second or third quarter, it wasn't really good. I thought -- we felt all along our plan was going to give us a chance. We thought that was important."
You or maybe a player mentioned a few weeks after the Seattle game that that week kind of felt like training camp to them. Did you see anything that week that came together -
"Look, this has happened with teams before we've coached, and we've had a game in London that was important and you're there for a week. Of course, Seattle there is less distractions. You're in a hotel and the meals are there and the practices are there. But I think the confidence can come from a particularly tough win, and I think that was a tough one on the road. I think that you build on things like that."
You haven't watched film yet obviously but first impressions of C.J. filling in for P.J.?
"Yeah, I think, look, he's smart and competitive. I think you have to look at the film before you have comments ahead of time."
With this (indiscernible) --
"I think he's got -- that's a good question. I think he's got real good vision. He's got the ability to cut back and feel a run maybe being over pursued. He's got speed and so he had a handful of those cuts today that he saw a hole, he felt something -- and I thought he ran with power, but he also ran with speed. He had a touchdown called back. It was a real good run. It was a big game for him. I was proud of him."
Did you feel like the offensive line kind of took over in the second half?
"Felt like that. I felt like we won the line of scrimmage. Honestly, I'm not so sure we weren't winning it in the first half. I probably was as guilty of holding us back. But we finally distanced ourselves with the score. It seemed frustrating early on. We had the blocked punt and we're not able to fall on it. Again, the punt return at the end of the half, I think Zach was outstanding on the play. That's what we coach. It was a great return, and unfortunately, they called a penalty on it. But we responded to some of that and that's kind of how our game is. That's kind of how things happen."
The broadcast mentioned that you guys were targeting next week as a return for Drew.
"Incorrect. So, I'll fill you guys in day by day. We're not targeting. We'll see how he's doing. We'll give you the news when we feel like we're ready to."
"Again, I'm not even discussing it. Sorry."
The challenge on the fumble, did you get word --
"Yeah, those guys upstairs felt strong about it. I didn't have an early view. And they felt like they had seen a pretty clear shot. And once we saw it, you could see. So, from the field I didn't see it as clearly as they did because the back of the player was towards me and the ball was away from me."
At the end of the first half were you surprised that the Bears, they didn't just take a knee and run it out?
"Well, look, I wasn't. Matt's real sharp. And I think you're looking closely at field position, where you're at with time left. We ended up -- a lot of it is just what your goal is. You've got to be careful you don't get burned. I've been a part of teams that have been burned at end of halves where you're being aggressive. So, a lot of it is your own vision as to what you're trying to get done. And there were a handful of possessions there right at the very end. And just ended that way."
With Eli Apple's injury, can you tell us?
New Orleans Saints coaches and staff photos from the Saints' road victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 7 of the 2019 NFL season.