New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton Press Conference
Monday, November 1, 2010
*Opening Statement: *
"I was pleased with our overall effort yesterday. I thought we battled. It was a hard-fought game. It was a good game to win against a good team. There were a lot of encouraging things on the film. Like we do every week we'll make the corrections and focus on our next opponent."
How important is it to capitalize on this win and take advantage of an opportunity against a division opponent next Sunday?
"I think it's important to be more consistent. We talked about it a week ago. We'll look closely at this film and try to see the areas we feel like we can improve on and then have another good, solid week of practice."
*What was most encouraging on the film? *
"I felt that we played with a lot of energy. I thought that we were very physical. I thought the second half, going in at halftime it* *was very close at 3-3. I thought in the second half we did a very good job on third downs. Comparatively, I think both teams were 1-7 at halftime. We were much better with our ability to stay on the field and possess the ball. Defensively we continue to do a good job on third downs. Those are just some things."
*How close was Tracy Porter to being able to play going into the game? *
"He was close enough. I'm encouraged with the progress of both he and Jabari (Greer)."
*Does the presence of the bye week play into the decision-making process of the playing status of Greer, Porter, Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas? *
"Your view is additional time, but it doesn't change our thinking in regards to how we approach this game. If a player's ready, he's ready to play in this game. We'll just do everything we can here. I'm anxious to see how this week goes, because I think we have a chance to get a few guys back."
*Anybody in particular? *
"Just the guys we've been talking about."
*Do you have a soft spot for a guy like Leigh Torrence who has had to make his mark as an undrafted free agent by playing on special teams and even being cut by the Saints before, especially given your playing background? *
"I think what's encouraging is that a lot of guys have had to step up. Leigh's playing a lot of football all of a sudden and he, Pierson Prioleau, Julius Jones, Ladell Betts, when Chris Ivory went down or Patrick (Robinson) went down, the snap count goes up for these other players and I think that's a little bit of the nature of our league. But to see Leigh go in there and make some big plays for us - not just the interception at the end of the game, but a number of plays – was encouraging. He is a guy that knows his strengths and weaknesses. He's a guy that prepares hard. It's realistic to think that at some point you're going to have to rely on players that aren't in your initial starting lineups to start the season and I was really encouraged last night by some of those guys and some of the efforts of players that received a lot more snaps than we anticipated."
Is there psychology involved to work with and get the best out of a player like that who maybe has even been released by your own team before?
"I think the key is communication between us, the player, and making sure he understands our vision for him and his role. When a player understands that, those things are clear and spelled out, that's helpful."
Do you take a similar approach with a guy like Zach Strief after the play near the goal line last night?
"I thought he played pretty well. He gets hung up a little longer than anticipated. The look was what we were looking for where they played a zone back there with a heavy run tendency and he got tangled a little bit. The throw was close. He has pretty good hands. At some point with as many times as he reports as eligible – at the goal line it's easier, we felt like we had a pretty good beat on how they play that goal line play – he just got tangled up a little. The throw was a little high. That was really it. I don't know if that really impacts anything else he's doing in regards to his role for what we're doing offensively."
Were you surprised the play didn't work?
"Yes, it was their goal line base defense. There's a tendency to leave that guy alone where we were on the one. When you throw the ball at the goal line, it's timing. If it's third and two at the goal line and you're throwing, it's one thing. But if it's first down and goal on the one, we just felt the situation was right in regards to the goal to go."
Can you discuss why Chris Ivory left the game?
"He got dinged, a mild concussion. He should be fine this week."
It seems like Danny Clark has received more defensive snaps lately. Has he shown something the last few weeks?
"He's been starting. I think his (snap) numbers were in the twenties, which would mean somewhere in the twenties with our base defense. When we get in the nickel and dime packages there are some groups that he goes out on. He's been in a starting role. He continues to understand and do a good job with what we're asking him to do defensively."
How did Patrick Robinson come out of the game?
"He has an ankle (injury) and we'll just keep monitoring it. I was encouraged with the way he was moving around today and yet we still have to see 24 or 48 hours later."
Has your goal line defense been improved throughout this season, not just in this one game?
"You can go three or four weeks and not have a goal line sequence. It's the one category in football where at the end of the year you might have a dozen or 15 snaps, maybe a little higher or lower. And then generally they come where a third of those snaps will be one game. So that stand yesterday was significant. Obviously to hold them to a field goal there was worth four points and encouraging. Something like that happens and you gain confidence from that defensively and as a team. They had a similar stand on their end of the field, but that was a big sequence of plays."
What counts as a goal line snap?
"What we count on the cut-ups is when we choose to put our goal line personnel on the field. There are times offensively where we might be third down and two on the two and we might be in three receivers and a tight end, so we wouldn't consider that a goal line snap. Generally speaking, it's when you insert your goal line package defensively or offensively to defend or to throw or run."
Do you know what your number was off the top of your head? Darren Sharper guessed that it was about three out of 20.
"That sounds high, meaning I don't know that we've had 20 snaps. In fact, I'm almost certain of it."
How much did the Steelers' good run defense have to do with you calling more pass plays?
"We wanted to still rush the football; we wanted to have those attempts to complement some of the play-action. They are a good defense. Statistically in every category you can see that. They tackle well; they're physical; they rush the passer well. We collectively didn't want to be one-dimensional. I thought in the second half that Drew (Brees) played some of his best football and clearly he had a hot hand. A lot of the throws might have been underneath or less down the field and yet we still took some shots. Lance Moore came up and made some big plays. I was pleased overall, especially in the second half. But you still wanted to have enough snaps, whether it was draws or one-back nickel runs to attack that defense."
Were you going to fake that field goal?
It wasn't just a ploy to get them to use the timeout?
"No. It was a fake. You know that one of two things is going to happen: you're going to get a chance to run it and see how it looks or you're going to get a timeout, and they called the timeout."
Was it early enough in the game where you felt comforable running that
"We felt pretty good about it with what we were thinking."
Would there have been enough time to spike the ball had Ladell Betts caught the pass on third down right before that?
"It was 3rd-and-3, so we felt like 16 seconds was plenty of time in that area of the field. The key is complete or incomplete, and if it's complete it has to be a first down. Clearly he was going to get a first down into that look with the route he was running. We felt comfortable that we were going to be able to get up and spike the ball and still send the field goal unit on, but yet you're still cautious. I was probably two or three seconds late in calling that timeout. I was thinking through a couple of things, with the fake field goal and how I wanted to handle that at the very end of that half. The play was incomplete to Ladell, but had he caught it we felt pretty certain…the cutoff is right there around 15 (seconds) and then when you get into an underneath throw like that, usually you have plenty of time to do that."
You have been successful on four of your five challenges this season. Did you change anything in your process of how you go about deciding on when to challenge?
"Not really. I lean heavily on the guys upstairs and try to be somewhat judicious. I tend to be more aggressive; I don't value those things like gold bullion or anything, we're going to challenge. I just don't want to miss one. I think the one yesterday was clear. A lot of times we can't see it on the field, but upstairs they give us the information. But yesterday's, you could see it on the scoreboards as well as upstairs, so that was a little bit easier."
What do you take away from the last month in that you matched up well with the two teams that have been playing better than the two teams that you lost to?
"Just to keep working to be consistent knowing that it's a long season. We're just at the halfway point here and we'll keep looking to improve."
Is Garrett Hartley ok?
Carl Nicks said that you had kind of gotten back to practicing the way you know how to practice. Was there anything that was changed in the preparation this week?
"I thought we had good energy during the week. I think we've had good energy. We looked at paying attention to the snaps and how long we were on the field. I thought we had good focus and when it came time to play last night, I thought we saw that energy and effort level. We just have to keep looking to improve the next week and really focus on the little things and the details, which we're doing today. You're going to get better or you're going to go in the other direction; you're not just going to stay the same. That's what we're working on."
Did you sense that the crowd had an impact on the game last night?
"I thought the crowd, especially on third down, was significant. That has become pretty common for us in the evening games. You can hear the difference in an evening crowd than a 12 noon game. I thought it was very loud, similar to that opening game that we played on Thursday night."
Can you attribute that to anything?
"I think there's a level of excitement. I do think the crowd is mindful of a national TV game. They understand the importance of a game like Pittsburgh and that's a team that travels well. You saw a lot of Steelers fans in but I thought that was significant last night; a big advantage for us."