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New Orleans Saints, New York Jets postgame quotes: Sean Payton, Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill, Demario Davis, Kwon Alexander | 2021 NFL Week 14

Saints head coach and players speak following the Week 14 win over the New York Jets

Saints head coach Sean Payton

Opening statement:
"Just a couple things, obviously, it was a good team win. We did a lot of things well situationally, thought we played really good team defense, ran the ball effectively, made enough plays on offense and in the kicking game. Thought we did a good job protecting the field position, especially earlier in the game with a little bit of that wind going in the one direction."

On if they knew it would be the type of game where they could preserve points and grind it out:
"I think you go into the start of this game and you feel like these guys have been scoring – I think last week they put up in their first half. No, this was a little bit of us feeling offensively that we're going to have a handful of things with Alvin (Kamara) back, and Terron (Armstead) back, that was important, so we wanted that balance. Then watching how the defense was playing in the red zone particularly, so it just kind of moved in a direction in the second half. We shot ourselves in the foot a few times, obviously the ball slips out of Taysom's (Hill) hand on the one down and it really like flipped field position almost – I don't know how many yards we lost on that play, and we got a screen set up where it was the perfect look, but overall it was a good team win."

On if was planned for Kamara to have as many touches as he had today:
"No, I couldn't say that. But look, that sounds about right. I think it ended up going that direction, obviously we had a lot of snaps then, he gave us some real good juice and energy, and he always does. It's not just on the field, but also on the sideline and we blocked them, I thought, pretty well up front."

On if it's important to him that they get back to the complimentary football they were playing earlier in the season:
"Yeah, look, I think it's important for us as a team and I think it's important for a lot of teams. At the half, our third-down numbers weren't great, we didn't have a lot of third downs, but some of them were third-and-real long and then I thought we were better in the second half. We had a good mix though of run and play action or drop back. Listen, it was a good win and an important win."

On what screen he was alluding to earlier:
"No, the screen was the one where the ball slips out of his (Hill) hands, and we lose 28 yards. The screen you're talking about was another one. (laughter) It's like our player running it, our two players blocking it and there's you know, those are some things that happened when I think Throck (Calvin Throckmorton) is initially going to block the corner, who's actually going to be covering our X receiver and just a couple little things like that where you just know it's going to be a big play, when you have something that's set up for the right look and we'll learn from it."

On the consistency of the kicking game:
"Yes, that was important. I thought we kicked well and there was a win. It was going to be a challenging win. Early in the game relative to direction, you're kind of looking at two things, the sun if you turn around is going to be directly in your eyes – that was only for about eight minutes. We deferred but I thought the kicking game was important and I thought we did a good job and then Easop (Winston Jr.) did a good job (in his) first time out. We had a couple players playing for their first time and it was good."

On Hill's 44-yard touchdown run:
"Obviously, we're sliding, the game is over there. But it was kind of a zero-funnel look. We switched Alvin from a king to a queen set, the safety kind of matched over like we were hopefully anticipating. Then, they're an aggressive defense at that time because they need the ball back and I haven't seen the tape, it happened opposite our sideline but I'm quite sure Juwan (Johnson) probably had a really good block and Terron got out, so it was the right look."

On the defense's performance:
"Yeah, we're getting some guys back. It was good to have Marcus (Davenport) back, and then hopefully we can get our COVID crew back soon and get ready for another important game."

On if there's some games where the play sheet isn't as extensive:
"It's a good question. These guys are different, when you're in base personnel, 21, there's some consistent looks so a part of the game you're trying to establish run or passes out of a base look. Sometimes it's hard to predict what you're going to get personnel wise. You don't always know if Juwan's always going to be treated like a tight end or a receiver. That happened years ago with us when we had Jimmy (Graham), you weren't sure. So, I don't know that the play sheet, I know the play sheet looks big, but I've said this before, it's partially because I don't see well, read well. But there was a section of QB runs, there was a section of some heavy-base personnel and then all the sub stuff that we wanted to do. Fortunately, we got to enough of the right stuff."

On if he believes in the phrase, "Think of players, not plays," and if that was the case today:
"Well, we always try to think of our players relative to the design and the matchup. We'll always – and not just the ball carrier – and it's a great point, but we're also thinking about, 'Hey, is this better suited for the left guard Throck, or is this better suited for Cesar (Ruiz),' and had we been on the right hash that screen would have been over to the right side. That is the time on task, relative to the game planning each night of the week, it's spent with every play in the details of who we're asking to do it. Some plays on the sheet get underlined which means we're only going to run them one way because the hashmarks in the NFL are pretty centered. We don't have to be able to run each play both ways, sometimes quite a bit of the plays are underlined, we're just going to run it one way. So, a lot of that goes on. Obviously, when we get a guy like Alvin back then you try to divide up the snaps, I don't know how many total snaps Tony (Jones Jr.) had, but I knew Alvin would be in good shape because he's been training, he was close last week like I said. It was more of the hamstring, not the knee and it was good to have him back."

On if it's a tough decision deciding whether to make a player active when coming off an injury when they're close:
"It is, it is. It's tough when it's a soft-tissue injury because you know that if you're just too early, there's been too many times where all of a sudden, it's another setback of three, four, whatever, so once you get to that spot, we try to really go by what all the medical staff are saying and if he can go, we play them and if not then we don't. I think that's a good way to approach it, sometime like Taysom's injury it's kind of it is what it is. It's just a matter of can you function but it's not something that can be reinjured like a hamstring."

On if Hill's finger held up like they wanted:
"All except for two plays. I mean I don't know what happened on that snap late in the game, and he recovered and then the screen play. But I think so. I thought he threw pretty well and secured the ball. I mean, there's always a little bit of an adventure with him that we keep working on, but I think he just lost the grip on that screen, and it just came out the back of his hands. And that very well may have been finger driven or it might have been just, know it's dry up here in the winter and he needs some lotion."

On Hill's foot:
"You can ask him, but I haven't thought about his foot this week, like at all, and I don't think it's on the injury report. I thought about it a few weeks ago though, but I didn't think about it much this week in fairness to your question. He was moving around well."

On what this win does for the team after a tough month:
"What I told them. It's a funny league, just keeps giving you chance, and you just keep focusing. I know it sounds cliché with the one week at a time, but you really just turn your focus to the next game and its a bunch of teams that are clumped together and are fighting to make the postseason. Our focus will be really on ourselves improving and getting healthier and getting ready for what's going to be a real good Tampa Bay team that we play Sunday night."

On reasoning behind not wearing a hat today:
"I don't know. I didn't like the one that was in my locker. Thought it was too cold for the visor and I'm a little superstitious, so I just went with the no hat look."

On if it was a first not wearing a hat:
"I don't know, probably not, I don't know. The sidelines got mixed up a little bit, for me, because when you play the Giants, you're on the other sideline so coming out pregame, you would begin walking over to your bench area and about 20 strides in I still hadn't recognized anyone and then saw Robert Saleh and I realized it. So, I guess the Jets are on one side and the Giants are on another. But it was kind of sunny, thought we had good weather considering we're playing here in the middle of December. Sometimes when you look at the schedule, it could be a lot colder. It's a good day, some wind and overall good."

On rotating hat and visor this year:
"Yeah, it's been back and forth. You cut your hair real short like this, you just, either one."

On how his players stay well-rested:
"No. I say this, the hours and the grind are the same every week. Some weeks are longer maybe because the team you're playing, relative to their scheme, some weeks. We built a sleep room years ago though and I mean like a real nice sleep room. So, you're getting a decent night's rest. Your guy lives on the north shore, you finish at 2:00 in the morning and you figure it's 45 minutes home, 45 minutes in the morning, it's an hour and a half you could be sleeping if you stayed Wednesday night. I know it's used during the week and I would say I don't think it changes. Yeah, you're working hard on your plans, but I don't think those hours change relative to when you're winning or losing. I think it's result oriented and it's work-driven like, 'Are we finished.' Some weeks it could be more complex and really that's a third-down thing. Some weeks it can be less complex based on the blitz packages and it's kind of, I think how it is."

On how it felt to him to be on a losing streak:
"I think it's honestly. It's like awful. When you're working those type of hours and everything you have and there's a lot that goes into and the sacrifice. So, winning, there's nothing like it and then on the other side of it, it's so, it tests your grit, it tests your fortitude. All those things. You got to get back on the next week and that's the importance when you're bringing in the right type of players in free agency, in the draft. They're all going to react well when you're winning, but how do they handle it when you hit some adversity and the same way with coaches and everyone else."

On the adjustment of when Juwan (Johnson) gets treated like a tight end compared to a receiver:
"We usually early in the game have a couple personnels, just to get the base read on do they see him as a receiver. Today, they treated him more like a receiver than a tight end. We went through that with Taysom a few years ago. We even tried to introduce him as a receiver to hopefully get him treated and then pretty soon he got treated as a tight end, because it has a lot to do with what you're game planning. It's nice to know if you put a play in, you kind of know, 'Here are the looks you can get,' but if you put that same play in and let's say you're expecting base and you get nickel, none of what you were planning on applies to that. Some plays are user-friendly regardless. But anyway, we try to get a feel early in the game and a lot of times we can predict it, but sometimes it's different."

Saints quarterback Taysom Hill

On Alvin Kamara saying he should have slid on the last touchdown:
"I mean, I obviously should have slid."

On if it's hard to slide when you see so much open space:
"I knew we needed one more first down and you get up in the open field – it was third-and-long – I should have slid. I don't got anything else for you."

On how his finger held up:
"It was okay. There were a couple plays that I felt like it affected me, but overall I thought that we were able to manage it well."

On if the two fumbles were caused by his finger injury:
"No, the fumble late we just didn't get a clean exchange. We were trying to set up a screen in the first half and the ball slipped out of my hand. That was one play in particular."

On if the screen play where the ball slipped out was a grip issue:
"Yeah, I mean the ball slid out of my hands."

On how instrumental it was having Kamara back today:
"I think statistically, obviously, the numbers speak for themselves, but man just having his presence on the field and having the ability to hand him the ball and all of that stuff, like man he just does so much for this team, just being there. He's a great leader, he's an emotional guy, plays with a lot of emotion. So, there's so many things intangibly that he brings as well that the stats don't quantify, but statistically, they obviously speak for themselves as well."

On how good it feels to get the win:
"Yeah, I mean look, this has been a tough stretch for this team, and it's been a foreign thing losing so many games. I think we've had great leadership that have really just kept our heads down and we've got to stay the course. We're going to start winning football games and that's what we did, so it's nice to get this win."

On if the game felt like some of the earlier games this season when the team was playing good in all phases:
"Yeah, obviously our defense played very well tonight. I thought that Coach (Sean Payton), the way that he called the game was reflective of how well our defense was playing as well. Man, it's good complementary football when you've got a good defense and you're making their offense go the length of the field to score, that's tough to do. So, I thought all three phases just play very well today."

On how important it was to not turn the ball over today after last week:
"Look I'm not going to overcomplicate what happened last week. Every time you step on the field and get ready for a game, that's the expectation, is a zero-turnover game. So that was the expectation today, it was the expectation last week too. We made a lot of plays today and we handled the ball well."

On if he feels like he's been using his scrambling ability like a sort of check down in the last few games:
"Yeah, I think that's one of those things that becomes a little challenging, is a quarterback that can run. I haven't watched the film yet to know if there were other opportunities, if there were some opportunities that maybe I could have gotten the ball out, but I think overall I can think of a couple situations last week, this week, where we were able to keep the chains moving because of that. And that's obviously a big part of what I can do and something that makes us hard to defend."

On if there is a danger to overthinking when it comes to throwing or scrambling:
"I'm not overthinking it, I'm just playing ball. Again, I break the film down, I watch it and I look at things that I could do better and things that I did well and try to build upon. But look, I'm not overthinking those things."

On if he took another shot to his hand today:
"Yeah, I did. I think was the second quarter, I could be wrong, but yeah, I did. It was on a sack and it just kind of jarred my wrist a little bit, and it took me a couple minutes, but it came back and it was okay."

On if he has to be cognizant of his injuries while he is playing:
"I think that there's a balance of obviously being available for your team to play, and then being capable of doing everything you need to do. So, you're aware of those things all the time, and if I felt like it was taking away or I wasn't able to do everything I needed to, then I would have said something. But once you get in the course of the game you can't allow your mind to get distracted by other things. So, as I take the field, I'm not consciously thinking about my finger or my wrist or whatever it is. Man, it's go time."

On how he compartmentalizes feeling pain, but not thinking about his injuries during the game:
"Look, this is football, I've been doing this for a long time. If you can't do that, it's hard to play in this league, that's just the reality. Everyone's dealing with something."

On if he got tackled by his injured foot during the game:
"I honestly don't remember the play. It's my right foot, so if it was my right foot then yes. There's not a play that sticks out in my head that bothered my foot."

On if his foot injury has become a relative non-issue:
"This is something that I think I'll probably be dealing with for the rest of the season. It doesn't feel normal, but it's good enough."

On if Sheldon Rankins said anything to him after the sack:
"No, he didn't. He said something to me before. What did he say? He asked if I was going to give him one or something, and I said, 'I hope not,' and then we did."

Saints linebacker Kwon Alexander

On whether the Saints played complementary football:
"Yeah, we just came together as a team. We started with practice at the beginning of the week. We had a legendary week. All the hard stuff is during the week. We came out on Sunday, got a dub, and we're getting ready for next week. And we're ready."

On how it was without (Cameron) Jordan on the field:
"It was kind of weird, but like he said, next man up. Most of our guys, they're capable of being starters. They came in there, played with energy, played with heart, played with passion, and we got a dub."

On defensive end Marcus Davenport:
"He's just so disruptive. Play fast, play until the end of the whistle. We're glad to have him back out there, too, because we just got him back this week. He's just been a beast since he's been back, you know what I'm saying? We're just going to keep working with him, keep getting better and better every week."


Saints linebacker Demario Davis

On ending the losing streak:
"It's always about the process for us. That's what we're always focused on, week in and week out, is getting better. We've had some challenging weeks, not being able to get the result that we wanted on the field. We've just stayed true to the process. And that's what you do. You lock in on your details. How can you get better as an individual? How can you bring your best come Sunday? And eventually it'll pay off for you, and it did today. We'll take that one. Enjoy it, then flush it, then get on to the next."

On getting C.J. Gardner-Johnson back:
"That was huge. We want all of our guys out there. We can't wait to get Cam (Jordan) back, as well, get some of our d-line guys back. We want all of our guys out there. We want everybody healthy. And that's when we're at our best. It's a next man up business, but getting him back, getting any of our guys back, is always going to take us to the next level."

On whether it was hard to stay in a rhythm while getting so many three and outs:
"No. That's what you want. That's when we're doing our job the best. That's when we're most in sync, when you're able to get out there and get off the field. So, definitely, if they're able to make plays and extend drives, you've still got to be locked in, but that's what you want. If you can get off in one play and get a (turnover), that's even better. I think you stay in the flow of the game when plays are happening on your side and in your favor, because they're kind of offbeat and you know you've got them. And to stay up with that momentum is the goal."

Saints running back Alvin Kamara

On whether he anticipated this workload in his first game back:
"I mean, we're back. I'm healthy, so it is what it is. There wasn't an option to me, like getting less of a load. It was just whatever it was going to be, you know what I'm saying? I wasn't limited or anything, so that's just how the game unfolded. I got a good load."

On how he felt:
"I feel good. I'm back healthy. I think that was most important thing, just being able to get healthy and get well so I can help the team the best I could. Like you said, I felt comfortable, I felt good. O-line played well. I think we played well all around as a team. I think there was a lot of energy out there and we came out with the win."

On whether the Saints played complementary football:
"Yeah, and that's what I was kind of alluding to. Everybody played well. There was energy on all three phases—offense, defense and special teams. I think when we play like that, it's not a lot of teams that can really stick with us. It looked good, it felt good. I mean, everybody was pretty much in rhythm, besides a couple of drives we had on offense. We kind of stalled out a little bit, but, I mean, all around it was a good team win."

On whether the offense changed anything in the second half:
"Nah, I think it was execution. When you look at those two drives that we had that we were super behind the chains, it kind of takes away from the good things you're doing. So, came out, locked in and just tried to hone in and stay ahead of the chains. And we did a pretty good job of that in the second half."

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