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Postgame Quotes: New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers | 2021 Week 1

Comments from Sean Payton, Jameis Winston, Matt LeFleur and Aaron Rodgers

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Opening Statement:

"I felt like it was a good win for us. This early in the season I thought we played a really good, complementary game. Time of possession, rushing yards, all the numbers we talk about when you look at the call sheet at the end of the game and all three units were really good. I am sure when we watch the tape there will be a bunch of things that we have to get cleaned up because early in the season all of these teams, us included, are in a race to get better. But I was proud of how they played, I thought we were physical and played with a lot of energy."

On if there was a plan to get more physical:

"There's never a football plan that doesn't involve trying to be physical. You never go in saying we're not, it's the first game of the season so will look at our pad level on tape but I thought we won some of the key numbers, particularly the rushing numbers and there are a lot of things that go along with that, time of possession, time your defense is on the field versus the offense. We just handled a lot of those things well."

On Jameis Winston's decision-making in the first half:

"Those were big plays that ultimately helped us with the first field goal. I thought he played very well. He was locked in, focused, we spread the ball around and we're going to go through that tape and look at some of the throws and there might be a progression or two but I thought he played very well."

On the team having to relocate due to Hurricane Ida:

"Honestly, I mean this with all due respect that no one really cares. When you get relocated and all those other things those are just exit opportunities. We try to do our best organizationally and one of the game balls went out to all the people that are involved in the logistics. There's so much that goes into equipment, hotel planning, and all of that, and the main goal is to create an environment where all of the other distractions are removed and you can focus on football. Those people did a really good job in the past two weeks."

On seeing what he expected today:

"As a coach, it is hard to understand or predict how that first week will go. You get ready for the start of the season and have an idea on areas that you feel like are going to play well but you are still wanting to see how we do as a unit. I was encouraged. I loved our energy."

On if there were any surprises:

"Doing this as long as I have, there's nothing that surprises you. We knew we were playing one of the best teams in our league, last year a final four team. It's hard to go into a game and say this is the outcome that we are expecting. You just want to go in and put yourself in a position to win and do the things necessary and really not do the things that keep you from winning so I was encouraged with that."

On playing complementary football and energy:

"I felt like we have seen that in the last two and half years really. That confidence has continued, and those guys feed off of their energy. On the sideline I felt like units were feeding off of each other and that's when you have a chance to have a decent football team."

On the defensive performance:

"Look, we're playing, if you went back and read the reports, one of the top third down teams and one of the top overall total offensive teams. There's so many things that they have been able to do well. Those guys on the backend played exceptionally well. I thought we rushed them, contained the rush, we got some turnovers and we did it against one of the better quarterbacks that this league has seen in a long time."

On the fourth-and-seven decision in the second quarter:

"You have to pick your spots where you want to be aggressive and it's a little bit easier on that end of the field even though, call it the 40, I felt pretty good about the calls we had. Sometimes in a game you want to use a call and you've already used it but I felt pretty good about what we had."

On the decision to throw the screen to Juwan Johnson on it:

"We saw a little adjustment they made with a formation and we kind of gave them the same formation. This was a year ago off of a Rams film. So it's kind of out there but we got a similar look and we just kind of left a really good opportunity for us to throw a screen over to Juwan."

On if he gets excited about a particular call:

"The ones that work, I get excited about those."

On choosing the location to relocate the home game to:

"We felt like the hotter the better, and it's no disrespect but let's just say this game was in the winter time and the circumstances were flipped you'd get a team like Chicago, Cleveland finding cold weather against a team that plays in a dome so we appreciate that we had this. The surface was great, the people of Jacksonville were great."

On the significance of Hurricane Ida's impact:

"Oh, absolutely. I was answering that question relative to our challenges. The challenges back home are far greater than our team getting on a plane and playing an away game or having to relocate. The challenges back home are far more significant."

New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston

On what this performance meant to the city of New Orleans:

"We did that for them. We knew how much it would mean to get a victory. They've been through so much, and for us to celebrate this victory with them is amazing. Hats off to (the people of New Orleans) for their resilience. They inspired us to go out there and ball."

On how important it was to take what the defense was giving him:

"Drew (Brees) always preached that "it's about the decision, not the result". Sometimes the decision is throwing the ball away, sometimes the decision is tucking it and running, and sometimes the decision is to take a sack. The more times we make the right decisions, the game will take care of itself."

On his fifth touchdown pass to Deonte Harris:

"When Sean (Payton) called that play, I told him I was going to throw it (to Harris). I was on Deonte all day, "keep your speed, it is going to come". Sean called an amazing game. The offensive line did an excellent job. With the way we dominated the line of scrimmage and the running game, I knew it (deep ball) was eventually going to come. It was open, and we hit it."

On what the last 24 hours was like preparing for his first start as a member of the New Orleans Saints:

"We were prepared. That was the message today. My trainer texted me this morning that "pressure is for the unprepared". I think that one thing we consistently did as a unit with Sean and with Jay Romig, along with our entire organization, is that despite the adversity of being in Dallas and all that we're dealing with at home, our mindset stayed the same. We prepared to play against Green Bay and prepared to play the best football that we could, and we did that."

On if he has reflected on his journey to finally be an National Football League starter again:

"Coach says all the time that we're in a race to get better. We are going to celebrate this game today, but there are people dealing with way worse than me right now. There are still people in Louisiana without power. I'll probably reflect on it after our season is over, but right now we have to keep getting better. There's some things that I won't like when I watch the film tonight, so we still have to get better."

On the performance of tight end Juwan Johnson:

"I was excited, man. I told him that was from countless hours of working together in the offseason and building a rapport. He showed up today. I told him before the game, "when you're in the game, I'm going to be throwing you the ball". I think he did a good job of going up and making some big catches for us. It was really a great team effort. We had some people stand out, but our defense was outstanding. When you hold Aaron Rodgers to 1-10 on third down, that's just incredible. Our offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. When you're able to hold one of the top offenses from last year to 3 possessions in a half, that's the type of stuff we preach about doing: dominating the line of scrimmage and playing complimentary football. That's how you win football games."

On Johnson's first TD catch:

"One thing in the red zone we focus on is giving our guys a chance. We preach that all the time. We have guys that can go up and attack the ball. He did a great job of not only catching the ball but coming down in bounds. That is kudos to him, but it doesn't start without the great protection and great play calling. Sean trusted in us to convert a fourth down on that drive. That's who he is. That is one of the most exciting parts for me, is finally having a chance to play for Sean Payton."

On the fourth down play call in the first half:

"Well, I had a feeling what play he (Coach Payton) was going to go with. I told him I really didn't want to come off the field, but that's just who coach is. Before the game I told him it was a privilege to finally hear his voice on the (helmet) mic. We have to keep getting better and we're going to keep growing. It was a great complementary win today."

On how Coach Payton and the team has handled being in Dallas:

"We know Sean is a great leader. We have a great team. This organization is unbelievable. Jay Romig's planning and ability to handle logistics. I want to give a shoutout to our equipment staff for being able to manage all of the moving. This was like a home game for us. We had everything set up perfectly. I also want to give a shoutout to Mrs. Benson. The way she invests in us and provides an opportunity for us to grow. For none of us to ever have any worries says a lot about this organization. Like Demario (Davis) says, it starts with the leadership of Sean and him always being able to adapt to situations. It also starts with us (players) believing in Sean and believing in the people this organization has put in place to do their job. I can't forget about Derek (Stamnos) too. We have great people working every single day while we're playing to make our lives easier."

On if he had any particular play he was excited about coming into today's game:

"One play that I was really looking at and visualizing was on the first drive where we did a double move with Deonte (Harris). I visualized and dreamed about throwing a touchdown on that play. I was able to scramble and get a first down. They were playing soft coverage, but with the way that play worked in practice, we thought we wouldn't call that play. It was only in that situation on fourth down where we might have called it because it was such a great call. Sean Payton did what Sean Payton does."

On the confidence he had in the play called by Payton on fourth and seven in the first half:

"I trust Sean wholeheartedly. Anytime he's speaking to me and talking about details, I tell him "Coach, I trust you. We are always going to rock with you". With the specific look on that play with them playing a soft zone coverage, screens are very good against that. We had Za'Darius Smith on Juwan (Johnson), so we knew there was going to be a good rush. We set him up and Juwan slipped right in. The offensive line did a great job of building a wall for him to get behind and he did a great job to pick up that extra yardage."

Green Bay Packers Matt LaFleur

On his reaction to the 38-3 loss to the New Orelans Saints:

"They came ready to play and absolutely embarrassed us today. You can't do that against a well-coached and quality football team. Our guys will have to take a hard look in the mirror. It starts with myself. Obviously, (we) did not get these guys ready to play ball and that is what happens when you go out there and play like that against a good football team. So, give the Saints all the credit. They came ready to play, had a great plan and executed."

On Aaron Rodger's first interception with pressure in his face:

"No, he threw to the right guy. Davante (Adams) was open. He threw to the right guy. He got pressure what I thought was on the right side. They got him off the spot and he had to make an off-balance throw and sometimes that happens."

On if this performance was a shock considering how well things have looked in practice:

"I'd say so. Yeah absolutely. It's very humbling to say the least."

On what you tell the guys back in the locker room after this loss:

"We will find out what we are all about. We talk about in the face of adversity stand together and not flinching. That's exactly what we have to do, and we have to get back to work. This isn't going to magically repair itself. The only way that I believe you bounce back from any defeat or setback, whether it's in football or life, is you put in the work and that's what we have to do."

On what was lacking in the execution of today's gameplan:

"You got to start with looking at your plan for what you had for them. I would say that's where we start and then how well did we execute the plays and were there opportunities to be made within those plays. Obviously, we didn't execute. But I think we're all going to start and look at the plan first."

On the struggles of the offensive line and what they will do moving forward:

"It felt like until that moment, the protection was pretty decent. I'll have to go back and look at it. A lot of times my eyes aren't focused on the rush, but it wasn't good enough. We didn't run the ball good enough or even attempt to run the ball enough and that's my fault.

On his take of the roughing the passer call on Jameis Winston on 4th down:

"You trying to get me in trouble?"

On if he felt that due to the hurricane disaster that happened down in New Orleans led the Saints to come out with more intensity:

"They obviously came out with a lot more intensity than we did. They were the hungrier team and that's disappointing. Especially when you have a team, we feel like we have. But ultimately, I did a bad job of getting these guys ready to play."

On the difference of how well Aaron Rodger's looked in camp and his underwhelming performance today against the Saints:

"You know Pete, until I go back and look at it, I don't have many answers for you in regard to whether we had guys open. I think they had a nice plan. You could tell that they were going to play a lot of 2-man coverages to take away Davante Adams and some of the other weapons. When you have teams that are going to do that to you, you better be able to run the football. We didn't attempt to run the football much and that's my fault ultimately as the play-caller.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers

On today's game:

"It's just one game. We played bad. I played bad. Offensively, we didn't execute very well. It's one game. We have 16 to go. We'll evaluate the film like we always do. We will be critical, and we'll move on."

On the Saints defense:

"When a team is going to play that much two show, then you have to be able to run the ball. We didn't run it that effectively. I think we came in thinking that they were going to pressure us a bunch like they did last time. We had some different skill guys this time, so they did not pressure us a lot. It was a lot of two show and they kind of held up with their front four or their front six."

On the second interception:

"On the second one, we were kind of backed up I had Davante (Adams) on a high split running a cut corner. I felt like that was going to hold the safety. We had kind of set up that play for a while. It was that combination where they were play a triangle combination on the two receivers to the strong side. I didn't get my eyes back to the safety. On my initial look, I thought I was holding the back side. Davante was inside, so I thought he was going to hang back a little more. The first one was kind of the play of the game that swung things big time. It was 17-3. If we score there, then it is 17-10. I probably should have thrown it to (Aaron) Jones and moved on to third down. Presnap, I was thinking about giving Davante a different route. I stepped up in the pocket and took a shot as I was throwing it. I wish I would have thrown that one away or thrown it to Jonesy right way. Obviously, that changed the game."

On the offensive line's play:

"I though the line played good. I thought they held up good. I thought Josh (Myers) did a nice job with variance of cadence that we did. I thought he played well. We'll see what the film says. I thought him and Royce did a nice job. Protection overall was pretty good. I had given them a sack there on a keeper in the first half. Other than that, I thought the protection was pretty good."

On the challenges of playing in Jacksonville:

"I felt like our energy was a little bit low. It felt a little San Diegoish from a couple of years ago. We just kind of needed something to get going. It was kind of the same thing. Long drives on their side and us not executing. We had 10 plays-ish there. We were down 17-0 and we are in two minute mode on our third drive of the first half. Very disjointed possesion-wise. We have been in games like that before We had one like that against Minnesota where it was limited possessions in the first half, but I think we scored on all those possessions, so that one felt better obviously than this one did."

On if the heat was a factor:

"We say there are no coincidences in life, so I don't think I can sluf it off as a coincidence. We traveled down here. It was hot, but we traveled down here in 2016 and it wasn't as hot as it was that day, so the heat shouldn't have been an issue for us. We just did not execute very well."

On if they thought they were going to move the ball:

"We probably felt like we were going to go up and down the field on whoever they had out there. That obviously wasn't the case today. I give Dennis Allen a lot of credit. I have always thought he was a great defensive mind. They had a good plan. It was to play a lot of two show and slow us down with the front. They did a good job of that."

On their offense:

"Coming off a couple of NFC Championship games we feel good about the unit we have on offense. This is a good kick in the you know where. Hopefully, it will get us going in the right direction, by going home and playing a division opponent next week."

On if he anticipated this:

"I don't know that you do. There's not much that you can say. They beat us. They played way better than us. We played bad. I played bad. It was uncharacteristic of how we practiced in training camp. This is hopefully an outlier moving forward. We will find out next week."

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