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Payton's Monday Presser

Coach talks about Falcons game, special teams, running game

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Press Conference Transcript

Monday, September 27, 2010

Opening Statement:"It's a tough loss. To get into that position in overtime, we were still able to overcome the turnover disparity and that's been something in the first two weeks we've done a good job with and didn't do as good a job with yesterday, but nonetheless you watch the tape and see things that jump out at you without having seen any video yesterday and then you see some other things you want to get corrected and then you see some positives. Certainly with a division game like that going into overtime, it's a tough way to finish. Guys will watch the tape today. We'll make the corrections. We'll spend time and once we finish that process we get on with Carolina. There is nothing updated on injuries. We'll probably have a lot better idea on Wednesday with all these guys. It was a hard fought game. Both teams played well. Credit Atlanta. They did a good job on third down. They did a good job really responding all of a sudden in overtime and coming up with the final drive."

Did the status of Drew Brees and Pierre Thomas on that final drive affect your decision to kick for the field goal on first down in overtime?"No. We kind of had a similar situation in Washington (in 2009), where we might have run one or two more plays a year ago. I think when you get down to that ten yard line. You're weighing the turnover (risk). I think more with Pierre's (Thomas) injury. If we were going to do anything, we were probably going to hand it off. Once we got down to the ten, I think there's certainly a confidence level where you say this is where we needed to be. Now if you're in the postseason, that's the first drive with the rule change, you might have to play that out, because if you make the field goal than the other team still gets a chance. If you score a touchdown, the game's over. I think you'd play it out differently if that was your first possession. Of course it wasn't. It was a second possession of overtime. I think that area's right where we felt we should kick this thing right now and not risk a fumble or turnover."

If you had run the ball with Pierre, would it have been mostly to put it between the hash marks?"Yes. We felt good about the right hash. All of that we would have done exactly the same. You have time to talk about it. Once you get to the ten-yard line, that area we felt pretty good about it. If we had run the ball, it would have been Pierre. Maybe it would have been Chris Ivory, but I think once Devery (Henderson) made the play on third down…It was third and nine I believe, he coverts. Once he converted that third down, I thought right away, we sent the unit out. I think that's smart."

What is the closest field goal you recall being missed ever?I don't know. Last year in our win against Washington they missed a close one late in the fourth quarter that would have put the game away for them and we were able to come back. I don't remember the distance though."

*Are you going to take a look at other kickers? *"We'll see. I think the thing you always have to be careful of is you turn around the day after and make decisions that maybe are the ones that aren't well thought out. We'll meet on it. We'll visit. You know how we feel about him (Garrett Hartley). He's a guy that has come up big for us. There were more wide lefts yesterday than just the kicker. There were other mistakes made in that game that maybe led it to overtime. We'll start with the turnovers, which leads to the short yardage situations. We struggled covering (Tony) Gonzalez and third down and holding up in the run game later as it went on, so that one just becomes more apparent by the nature of the position. We'll just see how we go here."

Are you going to look at other options before making a decision?"We'll see. I've seen some of them (reports). There hasn't been anything scheduled and I've not talked to anybody. We'll see."

Did Drew Brees have his knee checked out after the game?"Yes. All of them do. It would be standard protocol."

Is there anything serious?"Nothing serious."

Do you think you maybe took the foot off the gas a little with Atlanta in the divisional race?"I think when you have a chance to win a division game against a team you feel is a good team in your division that counts more than just a game. I do think that part of the frustration with that loss is that you have a chance to maybe set them back to 1-2 and create a little distance. It didn't happen. We obviously have a lot of football we have to get ready to play. We can't play that one again. I think there's something to be said for what you're asking. You want to play well in your division, especially at home."

Did Jo-Lonn Dunbar particularly struggle?"No. when you look, there were a handful of reasons. It would be unfair to just single him out. There were some times where he made some real good plays. Overall, I think as that game went on we wore down some. They were on the field a lot. Offensively, we didn't necessarily help that early with the turnovers. The time of possession gets swung when you have a game like that and you turn it over and they have the ball for an additional possession. All those things lead to those numbers.

How concerned are you with the state of your running game?"After three weeks, I think that number one we didn't have as many snaps as we would have liked yesterday. Certainly it's an area that we'll continue to look at. You want to be efficient and you want to be improved. It was something that we did well a year ago that we're going to continue to work on and improve on. We have a chance today – like every day after, but this is more like a normal week – to really look closely at the things that we didn't do well and the things that we did well and let's make sure that we're not icing over anything. We'll do that; we'll make the corrections, and then we'll get back to work and we move on to Carolina. But we're going to need to be able to run the ball more efficiently to have the success that we hope to have and we're going to need to defend the run more efficiently. Those are two important components to winning, just as turnovers are."

How much does defending the run go hand-in-hand with running it effectively?"It ties together. When you look at the disparity of the snaps, Atlanta had 80-some and we had 50-some. How does that happen? The turnovers begin to sway the snaps and time of possession because you basically exchange one of your possessions and give them one. So there's a little bit of a culminating effect of a number of things. That being said, we still need to work closely at that. I thought we played hard. That was area that I was concerned with coming off the short week. I thought they did a good job with their energy. I was pleased with the effort but we just need to be a little bit more efficient, a little bit smarter, and do some things a little bit better – all of us. We have another division game coming up."

Are you actively looking at changes in the running back position?"You're always mindful to see where other players are at. There are a handful of teams that have lost running backs here in the start of the season, maybe a little bit more so than in normal years. There is nothing imminent, but we are paying attention to that position. Pierre (Thomas) got nicked up yesterday and that would certainly mean that we'll have to be on the ball with the depth there. But nothing specific right now."

Are you concerned with the play of your defensive tackles against the run?"Ultimately, it's the proper technique. There are going to be some times where you give up some run plays and give up some yardage but yesterday was the first time in a while where gave up 200 yards and that's not us, that's not our defense. Certainly that's not us offensively, putting them on the field that long. That being said, we'll spend a lot of time now looking closely at the things we can do to improve."

Would you classify this as a good wake-up call for the team?"It's not that they weren't attentive. It just reminds you of how fine a line there is between winning and being just average. Week in and week out, you have to do those specific things well if you want to win and we just didn't do them as well yesterday. If you try to take something from it, it's important that when we leave here today we can look closely at the things that we didn't do as well, that we have to improve on, not sugarcoat it. To look closely and see that these are the things that we have to improve on if we hope to be a good football team this year. Are we capable of doing those things? I think so."

Could you discuss the concept of carrying two kickers on the roster?"It's kind of like three quarterbacks; there's always a cause and effect. If you decide to carry additional players in the kicking game – like a returner, for instance – then that means that you're going to have to reduce somewhere else. It's that juggling act in regards to not just kickers, but quarterbacks, guys that are primarily special teams players. It's just balancing the roster and making those decisions.

"Garrett's disappointed and we're disappointed that we didn't win, but if we don't correct some of these other things then that aspect is just one part of a number of things that we didn't do well yesterday. We have to get some of these other things cleaned up. We had the chance to go up 14 at one point and put a little distance in the lead and weren't able to do that. Those are the things, along with the inconsistencies after three weeks in our field goals, but these other things are just as concerning and things that we're going to have to improve on."

Where is your confidence in Chris Ivory at this point?"Our confidence level is high with him. He's a rookie. He had the fumble on the short-yardage play. He's going to have to give us some good carries here as we get through this middle part of the stretch with Reggie (Bush) out. He's going to have to handle seven, eight, ten carries a game and handle the various situations. It's just back to work and preaching the fundamentals with him. He's going to get more and more touches and he'll have the opportunities to do some good things, and I think he will. He's a guy that has gotten healthier and is ready for a little bit heavier workload."

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