New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Monday, October 03, 2011
Watch Payton's Presser
"There's nothing really new after this game in regards to the injury front. This is one of the few games where we came out of it pretty healthy. We'll see where we're at this week with some of the guys that were inactive. Like I mentioned after the game, there were a lot of good things with getting a road win against Jacksonville. I thought we did some really good things that we emphasized during the course of the week and there are some things that we'll work to clean up here this upcoming week as we get ready to play again on the road at Carolina."
What did you think of the play towards the end of the game when Drew Brees got hit late and there was no call?
"I just finished reviewing it a couple times. Obviously he was down and there was contact after the hit. It should have been flagged."
What do you like about where you guys are at in general now?
"We played some different games. We've played four different teams obviously, a couple real good offenses and we've played some good defenses. We found a way to win. I thought the time of possession yesterday was important. Third downs again were important. I thought in the second half defensively we had some key stops which were critical in this win. The one constant you've seen week in and week out is the kicking game has been outstanding. That's encouraging. We try to talk about field position. The importance of field position is when you can play a game on the opponent's side of the field as opposed to your side of the field, any mistake made is – I don't want to say exaggerated – but any mistake made on their end certainly becomes that much more important in the course of the game. I thought we did a good job of handling the fronts. We challenged both the offensive line and the defensive line in this game and I thought that came out and played well."
How important was getting off to a fast start this week?
"I'd like to say each week we'd like to have a quick start. It was an emphasis two weeks ago for Houston because the first two weeks we hadn't gotten off to a good start, but we had good tempo. I thought Drew (Brees) did a real good job. Our tempo offensively was good early. I thought we were in and out of the huddle quick with personnel groupings. We had a good drive we put together and ended up with a touchdown. There were some good plays there. We blocked some runs real well. We hit some throws in play action. The second drive, it was pleasing for us to come off the four yard line and, really the play there that got us going was the third and ten to Darren (Sproles). It's not us screen, but kind of an underneath throw and he managed to get 11 or 12 yards and got us some breathing room and that got us going again."
Were you surprised they threw the ball so much considering the score was still close?
"A little bit. I think conventional wisdom was that we were going to see a heavy dose of the runner. I'm sure they probably felt that we were preparing in that way as well and they wanted to see if this young quarterback could get them some plays and to some extent he did. Nothing surprises you but certainly I think all us watching, myself included, thought we would see more than three carries for instance in the first half from the runner."
Do you think you're putting up too many field goals in the red zone and not enough touchdowns?
"We don't week to week make that comparison. We just look at how we can maximize our potential. I think most importantly it's scoring. A week ago, I don't even pay much attention to the total statistics, but we're second in the league in scoring behind New England. I think more importantly is how we win each game so we don't draw cross-analysis comparison with another team. Certainly we recognize that they're one of the better teams in this league. I think most importantly for us is maximizing the things that we think we can do and not bury our head in the sand. A lot of times with a win it's easy to just move on to the next week. What's critical is that corrections are made and we look closely at how we can be better. We left some points on the board. We left some opportunities as you alluded to on the board. I think that's the most important thing so that we are improving, so that we're able to take advantage of that because we're going to play in a closer game where that can be significant."
Is it important to put together a winning streak of three or more games especially after starting 0-1?
"This isn't an obvious statement and then to some degree it is, but if a team who has success at the end of the season with whatever that is – 11, 12, 13, or 14 wins – generally during the course of a good season there is a stretch of wins, there mathematically has to be, so you have to be able to string wins together and find ways to rebound and then get motivated and have an edge again for the next week's game. We've been here and you guys have seen seasons where just when we feel like we're making some progress, all of a sudden there's a setback and then there's some momentum, and it's hard to do it that way. Yesterday was the first game of a stretch of three road games and we try to just look at each one independently, but certainly put a value on a win like that on the road."
Does it go without saying that when you play an NFC South opponent especially on the road, you know motivation won't be an issue?
"I think so. The most important thing for us always is to never lose sight of trying to deal in the truths with the opponent we're playing and with our team and the strengths and the weaknesses, what they're going to see on tape, what we've seen on tape, and then you fall back on the leadership and the experience we have and that will to win if you will. I think that's the challenge each week mentally. That's the challenge for us as coaches, that's the challenge for players is that consistency and that next week's challenge and finding ways to understand what needs to be done for that game. And sometimes that's different than the prior week or the upcoming week. In other words, there are some points of emphasis that might be entirely different to win that game and yet we have to be able to adjust during the course of the game. But last week was a good example of where we felt like we were going to get a lot of seven man fronts from their defense and that was going to give us opportunities to run the football and that was an important statistic for us – that number of rushing attempts, total rushing yards, time of possession – we felt like those were all important in that game and they ended up being so."
How much of a challenge does Cam Newton present from the Carolina teams you've played in the past?
"It's a lot different. Number one, in a short period of time they've put together a plan that really fits his strengths. The thing that challenges your defense with him are the extended plays. He's strong, he's big in the pocket, and I think there's that leadership ability that's contagious with the offensive players that are on the field. The route's never covered. It's going to be open at some point. He's gotten off to a great start. Certainly for a rookie coming off of a lockout who just kind of entered training camp in the fall, that's a quick turnaround really when you look at the time frame they had to put in the offense. Without having studied all the tape and just having begun the process, he's a handful especially at Carolina."
Would you say he compares to Ben Roethlisberger?
"Ben's a hard sack. Ben's a big, physical player that you can get hits on him, free rushes on him, and they don't necessarily equate to sacks and certainly that would be the case with Cam. He's younger with more speed and more of a run threat I think than Ben. But he has that arm. He has that moxie that you look for at that position. It's not too big for him. He's very comfortable in the pocket and then escaping. There would be a few similarities to what Ben does and really down in Tampa, (Josh) Freeman is another guy that's tough to bring down. But Cam is a guy that really can beat you running the ball for a gain of 28 yards as opposed to just eight. That's a little different with his size, so it's unique."
How have you felt week to week with distributing the ball amongst all your running backs?
"Good, I think each week we try to pay attention to it, we look at it, we try to make sure they're fresh and again we continue to look at the self-scout and make sure that there's some uniqueness each week that we hadn't shown. All three guys are playing well. They're playing with good pad level. They're protecting the football. So far it's been good."
Once Chris Ivory comes back, how much more of a challenge does that bring about?
"It's coming. Like anything else, when you get to that point you deal with it. I know he's in great shape right now, he's healthy, he's been training hard, and he would've been ready to play this past weekend just to give you a gauge on where he's at. He's 100 percent, busy staying in shape and making sure he's ready for that opportunity."
What are some of the keys to a running-by-committee approach?
"I don't know if there's one specific key. It's really what's best for your team. I think I said last week, we try to find what the players do best and put them in that position. I think that's the responsibility for us as coaches is to try to each week look at our personnel available and try to when the games over say – hey, did we give them an opportunity to do what their skill sets all them to do well? So that's what we pay attention to and it can vary based on the core of runners. The three guys that are playing for us right now – Pierre (Thomas), Darren (Sproles) and Mark (Ingram) – are uniquely different in some respects and yet there are some things in all three of them that we're very comfortable with if they're running. All three of them are smart. They know how to block our protections so we're not handcuffed that way. You saw plays yesterday in the nickel with one of the bigger backs, Pierre and Mark, and then you saw some plays in the base with Darren. We just try to keep mixing it and making sure each week that they have a good vision for what they're going to do."
Are you concerned at keeping them all engaged throughout the game when maybe they're not getting as many carries?
"I think we try to pay attention to that. We try to be mindful of it with how they're doing and if any of them need any rest. Brett (Ingalls) pays attention to their snaps and their touches and periodically I'll ask where we're at with certain things. Yesterday it came up and I just checked with him. It's just something that there's a lot that goes into it and you just don't come out saying, 'Well, it worked out alright.' There's a lot that goes into that to make sure it comes out with balance and without tendencies."
Do you remember what you thought about Darren Sproles coming out of college?
"I remember (Bill) Parcells had gone to the Senior Bowl to scout that game and we didn't go. We were back in the offices. He came back raving about this running back. You have to know Bill a little bit in regards to his scouting thoughts. He's a size, speed guy and was brought up in that mold with the Giants but he would say today that the one position that's just a production position is the running back. History has shown that they come in all shapes and sizes. But his feeling coming back from the Senior Bowl, he said that the best player at the Senior Bowl was the running back at Kansas State and it almost floored all of us because it was the first time we'd ever heard him rave about a player that was undersized. I think that Darren has done a ton of good things and it's interesting to see him grow in our role here. He's handling the runs well and the passes and there's a good mix with both he and Pierre and then Mark. Those guys kind of feed off of each other and it's been good for our team."
Was there a stigma that Sproles was only going to play a specifc number of snaps?
"I don't think so. He's built well with a strong lower body and he's pretty compact and strong. Once again, it's what's your vision, how do you see the player fitting in and can you give him opportunities in space? I think I heard him talking about that yesterday. Can you give him opportunities in space and put a little air between he and the defender and if you can, like that third down play, when we talked about it Wednesday night when we do nickel on third and long, we've run that play before. And Pierre's (Thomas) the guy that makes the key block. If you watch the film or the television copy, Pierre releases and his job is just to really stalk the Will linebacker and then what we call two-gap the Will linebacker and that means not necessarily block him in or out, just square up on him and then let Darren take that block and feel the squeeze of the defender and go opposite. It's one of those plays where at that point it's third and long and there's kind of a little risk and a lot of reward. If he doesn't get it we punt the ball, but the zone is so deep that you risk throwing into that deep zone and you risk turnovers so you throw underneath it and then you really predetermine who's blocking for you. Pierre did a good job of two-gapping the Will linebacker and at some point you just hold on and here we go and that's really what happened with Darren's play there. There would be a good example."
What was the plan yesterday with Tracy Porter and Marques Colston?
"Both had a similar plan. We were going to try to get Tracy the nickel snaps and Colston some of the nickel and some of the red zone. I don't have the final pitch count on either players but I know going into the game we were anxious to get them playing time and yet we were going to be mindful of how much. I know in Tracy's case it was the nickel and with Marques we had some plays in the base and a handful of plays in the nickel and red area. We'll continue to look at that in their next week playing. That first week, we're always careful. We did the same thing with Lance (Moore) when he came back versus Chicago. He played and yet he played on a limited basis just to get him up to speed and we just wanted to make sure there weren't any setbacks."