New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Press Conference Transcript
Monday, September 6 , 2010
"From a roster standpoint, we signed linebacker Danny Clark and released tight end Tory Humphrey. Our injury list is as follows: Jimmy Graham was full, Pierson Prioleau was full, Marques Colston was full, Jonathan Vilma was limited, Tracy Porter was limited, Zach Strief was limited and then Stanley Arnoux and Chris Ivory were the two players that didn't practice. Most of the emphasis today was on nickel. Again, the schedule is a little different with this Thursday week so we've kind of altered it a little bit. But as best we can, we're making it like a Thursday."
How do the changes that you've had at the linebacker position change what you can do going into the season?
"We still have flexibility in how we can line up. There are a number of packages that we like to get into and Joe (Vitt) has done a good job throughout camp of training these guys in more than just one position. So the good news is that we have flexibility that way."
You've made some changes at linebacker and at defensive tackle, do you feel that in general the run defense has improved going into the season?
"The good news is that we're going to find out soon as the season starts. Certainly there are points of emphasis that you work on and I think that really the one area that you didn't mention was the defensive end position where we feel like they can certainly help in that area."
Were the big runs you gave up a result of gaps missed and fundamentals?
"When you have a big run like that, generally it can come down to one guy specifically not in the right fit or not in the right gap. Without trying to clump them all together, generally the breakdown would fall with one specific player and that certainly could vary."
What does Danny Clark bring to the table?
"He's someone that we had here a couple of years ago and we practiced against him when Houston was here. He's a physical player; he's a first- and second-down type player that has good size and carries his pads pretty well. Certainly his physicality is something that we've seen and actually had when he was here prior. Those would be some of the attributes that you would see from him. He can play in a nine-technique on the line of scrimmage, he can play back in a bubble and he is strong."
Does his prowess on special teams come into play?
"I don't know that you would say that initially. He's a veteran player so I would start with the defensive side of the ball and then look to see where he can help in the kicking game."
What's Marques Colston's injury?
"Colston is basically nursing what was a bruise from the game in Tennessee last week. It was a bruised kidney and all the tests were negative. We're really just monitoring and slowing down the reps with him. He should be fine."
With Malcolm Jenkins being relatively new, does it limit what you can do defensively?
"The one thing with him is that his football I.Q. is strong. He's a very smart player and we got that from the day he walked in the building. He's quick to learn and yet you're still mindful of that. But I would say that his strong suits would be his awareness and his intelligence, along with his athleticism. Knowing the defensive packages, getting lined up, knowing the adjustments versus the various motions and personnel groupings is something that I think – I don't want to say comes easy to him – but it certainly is one of his strengths. That helps when it comes to his versatility. I don't think that we feel hindered because he's back there in regards to what we want to do. The key is just him seeing it and then getting the live reps as really a first-year player at that position. That experience is just something that he has to get. But as far as knowing what to do, that's something that he does pretty well."
Could you use Jenkins a lot like you used Darren Sharper last year?
"He's playing the same position. I think we'll see him used like Darren was. He's playing the free safety position. We don't feel like we're limited in regards to what we can get to package wise in terms of our free safety. There are a lot of things we would do the same thing with Darren."
Was the pressure on Brett Favre something you found to expose or a blueprint to beat the Minnesota offense?
"It's probably a combination of a lot of things. I thought we played with good effort and energy. I don't know if you'd say that game was any blueprint. Both teams battled very hard and it came down to the end. We made a play on an interception by Tracy (Porter). Today's the day we work on nickel. Certainly we work on our nickel pressure package. Offensively we do the same. I don't know if it's one specific thing you hang your hat on, but I think if Brett Favre or Drew Brees have a lot of time to throw the football, both of those guys have proved that it's awful tough to cover guys with them having the time. I think week by week, being able to cause duress at the quarterback position is certainly imperative to being able to get off the field and get the ball back offensively. "
How much do you think something like that could still be affecting Favre mentally?
"I don't think any. He's as good a competitor as this league has seen in many years. Week to week he's a guy that certainly moves on. I think with his experience level, little to nothing at all."
How concerned are you with Tracy Porter's health?
"Not at all, he's listed as limited. I was encouraged today in fact. I'm not concerned with him. I'm not going to really talk about the injuries or make predictions about the injuries. I'm optimistic that he'll be able to go. Today he's limited."
Is there more pressure on you this week given the magnitude of the game or do you feel a monkey off your back having won the Super Bowl?
"The first week of the regular season regardless of whether it's a Thursday game or Sunday game, I don't think anyone's as calm as a cucumber, but I don't think there's added pressure either. I think the word would be added excitement and it would the same for Minnesota. You play four preaseason games and you get to that point in training camp where you look forward to getting the regular season started."
Is it easier to prepare for the Vikings this time than for the NFC Championship after having a whole year of tapes to look at?
"Typically when you play the first game of your regular season the challenge is the preseason film you see 'x' amount of stuff. My experience has been for the first two or three games of the regular season, you don't have that bulk of a season's tape to look at. You can go back to last year. As I mentioned, there are some differences with both teams and there are some things both things do in the offseason to change. When you're playing last year opening against Detroit and on the road against Philly, you're having to look at last year and you're having to look at the preseason, but you're also having to adjust and be ready for things that we haven't seen on film because of a whole offseason that's gone by."
Has Reggie Bush had a better training camp?
"He's been healthy and had a real good camp, probably one of the better camps we've seen. He certainly has a grasp as to what we're doing and will be important in our offensive game plan. He provides position flexibility as well. To answer your question he's had a real good camp."
Do you see a comparison in emotion with this game to the game that reopened the Superdome?
"I don't know that anybody will ever compare to that Monday night game you're referencing in '06, but certainly when you play this game and it happens to be that the league set it up now with the Super Bowl winner playing on Thursday night, there's that added element of all the things that go on. There's more traffic in the city. There are maybe a lot of the similarities of that time in terms of getting to the stadium. Certainly there's an excitement level always the first game of the regular season. The challenge this week being a Thursday night game and the festivities surrounding it, those are things we have to work through, prepare for and be able to handle."
Can you draw from your experience in 2006?
"Yes. I think you can look at some things and look at the importance of understanding it's the first regular season game. You want to play well enough to win it."
What's your thought process about tomorrow?
"We're just switching the schedule. As you guys know, we've made some changes to it. A lot of it really had to do with adjusting for this Thursday game. We flipped that around and my thoughts as we move forward is we move back into a more regular routine. We've had to deal with a shorter week, the practice squad, how we're practicing. It's just changed."
Is this different than what you did in 2006?
"No, '06 was different. We played on a Monday night. We had additional time in 06."
What about '07?
"07 would be the last time we played in this game and we traveled in '07. That schedule just as this week was different."
Did you feel you guys ran into a buzz saw in that game in 2007?
"I don't know that that's the case. Let's go back. First, it's hard to sit there; you come in and go through things. But at halftime, it was 10-10. It was a close game and the second half got away from us. I think it wasn't one of those games and you're coming out of halftime down 21 points. We didn't do enough to win that game on either side of the ball offensively or defensively. But, at halftime it was one where you came in and felt pretty good about where you were at on the road, so I think you have to be able to handle the emotion and put that someplace and focus on the things that allow you to win games."
Do you care about any of the talk coming out of Minnesota that they lost that game more than you won it?
"No. Part of winning the game is scoring more points and certainly turnovers win and lose games I would say the turnovers were the difference in that game. To answer your question, no."
Do you realistically think that the defense can try to eclipse 39 turnovers?
"I don't even know if you look at the number as a whole. I think week by week you look to be on the plus side of that. Certainly the teams that are able to do that…We point and study that statistic. We study our background, our history in four years now of what we do when we protect the ball, what we do record wise when we're plus one, what we are record wise when we don't turn it over on offense. We're 15-0. What we are when the defense forces a turnover. That isn't new. That statistic is as old as the hills. When you finish five takeaways to one giveaway, you're going to win 95 percent of those games if you want to look at a percentage. That's a key statistic in that game, because what it does and I've said this before, it takes one possession away from the opponent and adds one to you. So, you steal a possession, another plus another possession. You're losing one, you're giving the opponent another one. Those are tough to overcome."
Can you expound on the turnovers playing a big role in the NFC Championship?
"I think they play a big role in each game you see in our league. I think if you study postseason history and you found a plus four differential. I would challenge you that you'd never found a winner minus four."
How much of a role did the pressure on Brett Favre play as well?
"You try to look at the specifics; most of them I'd say weren't related to that. Most were fumbles, strips. I've heard people reference the last throw, but I think ball security is something that's critical in playoff football and it's critical in this week's game as well. Chances are the team that wins the turnover battle will have a better chance of winning, every once in a while the exception's made. I don't know that that would be the case in that game."
Who will play weak side linebacker for you?
"We haven't decided. We'll probably announce it Thursday.
How are you preparing your players to not get sidetracked on the emotion?
"I think we have a pretty good locker room in terms of leadership. I think they understand having played in big games. They understand how to organize their week and how to take that, yet focus on the task at hand. That's in practice. Today I thought we had an excellent practice in third down and your energies and effort really need to be on those specific things you can control. We're sometimes isolated here in that we come in and meet and we're not as open to all the other potential distractions until you get to the stadium on gamedays. Our routine, our itinerary, although it's different this week, we lean back on the practices and the preparation. I think that's the one thing from our experience that serves us well."