Official team photos from the New Orleans Saints vs Dallas Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, September 28, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)
New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton Media Availability Monday, Sept. 29, 2014
Opening Statement:"Just with regards to today's schedule, we are going through the tape right now and we met as a staff as we typically would on Mondays. I'd say it's, obviously, a disappointing day when you come in and you're reviewing all of the things that took place in the game. We talked about a number of things in the team meeting. I think our players will respond the right way. There are a lot of things that need to be cleaned up and quite honestly we are playing like a 1-3 team right now and that's what our record is. Throughout the course of the game we didn't do all of the things necessary to win a football game, that's obvious, but more importantly we have to pay attention to the things that we are doing to keep us from winning games and there is a laundry list, I could go through it, in all three areas including the fourth area, our preparation and coaching. All of that is going to have to be better for us to play better. That starts this week and we will look to address those things and be more detailed. It was a tough loss, and I said it yesterday, you credit Dallas, they played very well, and at the same time we didn't do much right."
You break this season down into quarters, what did you learn from this first quarter?
"Look, it clearly for us is a message that we are going to have to improve in a number of areas for us to accomplish some of the goals that we set out (to accomplish). That was one of the topics this morning just with regards to accountability, ownership, all of us looking at the tape closely and looking at the specifics in regards to assignment technique, and then us as coaches looking at are we asking the players to do things we feel like they can do well?"
What has been the most frustrating thing about this beginning?
"With regards to the start of the season? Look, I think it's easy, this is a win business and so when you are not having success that challenges everyone. That challenges the players, the coaches, you have to dig down deep, it's a gut check. And I'm certain we will. As rewarding as winning can be, the opposite takes place when you're not winning."
Is it a real bad sign when you get dominated on the line of scrimmage like that?
"It was a case last night where, it wasn't just the line of scrimmage, obviously we have to improve in that area to win. We've got to improve in not only winning the line of scrimmage but winning the battle with regards to pressure on both sides of the ball. We talk about it each week. It's a part of being successful."
Can you coach guys to get off blocks better?
"I think you can, it starts with alignment. At times when you are not aligned in the right gap, or you're not hitting the right gap, or offensively if your sets not where it needs to be, we are talking about the specifics of offensive and defensive line play, but I think in a lot of ways you can coach that and we will. You can certainly improve that and we're going to have to. That's just one part of it, that's not the only. The mood in the locker room right now, and I would say the same for the coaching staff, is that everyone one of us has got a lot that we have to do better."
Rob Ryan is not getting the same results as last year…
"Yeah, but that's we, it's not any one individual. Listen, it's the Saints defense. Sean Payton is not getting the same results as he did last year, and every player on this team is not getting the same results. But go ahead with your question…"
Have you done anything differently this year defensively?
"We, defensively, have done a few things that are different and then, look, there are some things that we played a year ago, we're just not playing them as well. I would say that would be for sure."
Where does the pass rush rank on that?
"That's part of it. Part of it is in order to oftentimes get your sack production you're able to have success in the run game and then at some point make the team one dimensional. It's harder to have that production when you're able to run the football and have that balance, it becomes more challenging defensively. In turn, it's the same way offensively. When you get into a game where you're having to throw the football, it stresses the offensive line and obviously the pass rush becomes more challenging."
At this point the division race is tight as the two teams ahead of you each have only one more victory than you. Do you stress that to your team at all?
"Well, I would say this, I think the first item we discussed at the team meeting is our season is, I don't want to use the cliché of a journey, but it is a long season. We are 25 percent through, we are four games through, and obviously if we continue to play the way we are playing than the results will be back and forth and we will be sitting here with a 7-9 or 8-8 record. That being said, it's imperative and there has to be a sense of urgency to clean up these mistakes we're discussing, improve in some of these areas and all of that other stuff will take care of itself. It's all out there. In other words, if we're playing like this come Week 12 or Week 14 then look, the things that we discussed or at least hoped to accomplish it's going to be tough to do if we continue playing like we're playing. We're in a fast race to really correct and change and make those changes to allow ourselves an opportunity to win games. The turnover, takeaways/giveaways, is one which seems easy and yet that has to change."
Curtis Lofton talked about beating the man in front of you. Is it a good thing to play angry, does it help to play angry? A lot of times you play angry and physical. Can playing angry be a good thing? Is anger something you can channel into passion and physicality?
"Each player, here is what is important is that you're playing with that great effort. Sometimes in our game you want to win those one-on-one battles, sometimes it comes down to an individual battle, and yet that has to be harnessed with the idea that you're all doing the same thing and you're all on the same page. How a player gets ready and how he's wired, that can vary a little bit. But the technique and the assignment, the enthusiasm and the emotion come with success, so that body language, all of those things are important. Playing the right defense exactly the way we're coaching it, and us looking at are we coaching it the best way, those things need to be cleaned up. Offensively no different than ten guys doing the right thing and then all of a sudden there is a busted route or maybe breakdown in protection or the blocking scheme, the result won't be what you want."
Along those same lines, is there ever a need to identify or do you ever try to identify the real big picture things? Listening to the message, a sense of urgency, even some cliché ideas…
"We will look closely when we meet as a staff and I will talk to the veteran players on this team. Here is what we can't do. We can't continue with the exact same preparation plan and expect different results. So you've got to constantly look at tweaking the approach coming into the next week. That's something we have to do. Look, we will find out a little bit about this team here. When you start the season 1-3 and you get punched like that, very quickly we will find out what we are made of."
Where do dropped passes fall?
"Yesterday that was one of the things that we made notice of. I think that hurt us yesterday, stalled some drives, and of course the turnovers did as well."
What is your plan at left tackle if Terron Armstead isn't ready to go?
"We'll see how that unfolds. It would be just what it was last night though. I thought Bryce (Harris) did a pretty nice job stepping in there, looking at the tape. He played pretty well. When we go to a game typically we are carrying a backup tackle, a backup interior lineman and sometimes two. Yesterday we carried two, we had a backup center and a backup guard, so we dressed eight. I think that we will wait and see where Terron is at. There will be a protocol that we will go through that he will follow. It would be Bryce, he's the player we would play there."
So you feel pretty good about the overall depth there?
"Yes. Yeah, absolutely, I felt pretty good about how he played."
Is there a risk of the team not playing with a sense of urgency when you say this is a long season?
"The sense of urgency is not just on Sundays. I think the sense of urgency is Tuesday during the work week, Wednesday during practice on first and second down if a rep is not done right, if there is a mistake made, correcting it. The sense of urgency exists, it's that heightened awareness that currently we're not playing as well as we think we can play. My experience is if everyone is on the same page and the reps and the workweek have gone well, it gives you a chance. It doesn't guarantee that you win a game, but it gives you a chance to play better. I think that's important."
Do you think some people are not on the same page right now?
"No, listen, I am talking about a big picture now. I am talking about just playing fast, the technique being better. Clearly we are not playing as well as we'd like."
On the fake punt, would you have liked to have seen Thomas Morstead…
"Look, that's on me. That's on me. That's not Thomas, that's not (Travaris) Cadet. It's a play designed for misdirection, credit Dallas they were in a punt safe. I kind of felt like they would be and really that's on me for being impatient. I thought we were at a point in the game once we got to two scores if I had to do it over again I would have just punted and tried to come up with another stop and worked to cut into that lead. Thomas did exactly what he was supposed to. They had a guy covering and guy assigned to him so that wasn't him."
You mentioned that a lack of deep balls is not for any one specific reason. Is that something that you have highlighted as something you'd like to change?
"No, because we'd like to throw the ball down the field and yet I don't want to throw it down the field into a deep safety or someone who is playing off. That's not why we are sitting here at 1-3. I think it's important though, to your question is, looking closely at what you feel like has kept you from winning and making sure that you're not correcting or getting away from something that hasn't been the culprit. In other words, that's important. Is the change that we discuss in regards to preparation, scheme, what we're wanting to do, it's important to look closely how come we are not getting the results we want. Listen, it is important that we understand what is keeping us from winning. Certainly we want to get the ball down the field but I wouldn't contribute that to it."
There has been a lot of focus on what went wrong last night. Can you pull out any positives?
"We could pull out individual efforts. I thought Khiry (Robinson) ran hard on some of the carries he had. I thought Bryce (Harris), as talked about, came in and stepped up. Jairus Byrd played probably one of his better games. I thought the kicking game, (Thomas) Morstead was really good. Certainly we felt like that was a good team in the return game. I thought the punt field position he gave us late was big."
Any big picture stuff?
"There are not a lot of big picture items that you come away from a game like that and say. That's just how it is. Now if we can look at that and make these corrections and begin to win a game and then go on to win some more games than down the road you could look at it like that maybe. Look, it's a very telling game. It tells us right where we are at right now. In our league, you guys know this, you get graded every week and so far after four weeks it hasn't been good."