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Q&A: Sean Payton recaps the Carolina Panthers game

Quotes from Sean Payton's Monday press conference

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Media Availability
Monday, December 4, 2014

Opening Statement: "Our normal Monday routine has the players watching film right now.  You guys have had a chance to talk to them.  We've met as a staff and gone through the game tape.  Obviously it was as bad as it looked yesterday in a number of areas.  When you turn the ball over twice in three plays you're not going to have the time of possession, you are not going to have the snap opportunities.  You're going to have your defense on the field longer.  We really struggled defending the run. That was obvious. And then when they did throw it to their credit they got in a lot of seven man protection and were able to attack the outside players.  The only encouraging thing was the punt return game.  They are meeting on special teams right now but there are some guys in the kicking game that really stood out.  We have got a lot of work obviously ahead.  I don't rule out any changes with regards to who we are asking to do what we are asking them to do.  But that was bad.  It starts with me.  It starts with our coaches and we will get that cleaned up and then we will clean up who is doing it."

Did you see anything on the tape about effort late in the game?

"I did not see a ton of loafs but I did not see a ton of plays being made either.  It became a one dimensional game.  There were a handful of things offensively that we felt like we could do and take advantage of and the next thing you know you are looking down at the clipboard or your call sheet and you are into the end of the third quarter, fourth quarter and the lead you are chasing is one in which you have to be one dimensional.  But look that's what happens.  You show me a 41 point game and I am going to show you a team that turned the ball over.  There just aren't that many possessions in our league per half so that reflects on rushing attempts that reflects on all the other pertinent statistics.   We were poor on third down both offensively and defensively. I think we were one of nine in the first nine third down conversions or attempts offensively, defensively the same way.  At halftime I just recall looking at those numbers."

How would you describe the mood in the staff meeting?

"It's quiet right now and guys understand hey, this is obviously serious.  It's their profession, it's our profession.  It is going to be our job and the leaders of this team to lead.  This is exactly when you find out who your guys are."

Was Khiry Robinson available to play yesterday?

"He was available.  Our plan was to spell Mark (Ingram).  Unfortunately we didn't get to that opportunity where Mark was looking to the sideline that he needs a break.  That gets back to the possessions and opportunities but if we put a guy up like that we are going to try to get him involved."

Do you anticipate having to do some major surgery on this club in the offseason?

"I don't want to…I think it would be ahead of ourselves for me to talk about what we're getting ready to do in the offseason.  I'm anxious to see what we are getting ready to do here this next week.  I am anxious to see our response in how we prepare and how we play against Chicago.  I am anxious to see that.  In the offseason there will be a time we sit here and we talk about that.  I think that question at the right time four weeks from now, five weeks from now whenever it is."

Did you consider pulling Drew Brees in the fourth quarter?

"I did and yet the one thing we tried to emphasize with him staying in, and he and I talked about it, with him staying in was going to be quick tempo, draws, screens and then of course at the end there the ball was going to come out.  I certainly didn't want him to get hit."

How did Bryce Harris do and is Nick Becton an option?

"We will see. I would say this, when you come in like that I thought, here was the thing I was proud of with Bryce, he had his hands full.  At times he won on some snaps and at times his guy won but he tweaks his ankle and he really knows that there is not plan B really.  So there is a good portion of that fourth quarter he stays in there and guts it up and continues to play.  That was pretty impressive."

Can you talk about Cam Jordan's hit on Cam Newton out of bounds?

"I felt like looking at it on tape it was one play but I thought when you really look at it I would be shocked if he got fined.  In other words, because he's pushing him (Newton) a yard and a half in the green, it's just one of those bang bang plays.  I think any time you have a play that spills deep into the sidelines there's that initial reaction.  Even the official on our bench talking to me, I think he understood it was close.  I didn't think it was significant and I don't think anything will come of it."

When veterans talk about professionalism and maturity do you think those are general ideas or they are specific things?

"No, there are certain things that win in this league and there are certain things that don't.  It is the commitment to one another throughout the week, the detail in what we do and right now truth be told we're that team when you talk about hey, will they jump offsides on fourth down?  Will they bust a coverage?  Will they turn the ball over?  It is one of the things I brought up in the team meeting, I said listen, it has been awhile but right now we are that team."

When you talked about effort in the practice week you weren't talking about that guys weren't working hard this week?

"No these guys understand.  They have to go and practice hard and yet we have to look closely at hey, do we need more reps?  If we back off one of the challenges we have is we are younger on one side of the ball than the other.  There are some individual players that we have to be mindful of how long they are out on the field.  But then there are a number of players that need a lot of reps.  Looking at that schedule and how we practice is something that is important."

Did you see before the game that maybe they weren't as fired up?

"It is interesting because I think the player has a perspective and I have done this long enough to where man it is hard to predict pre-game.  There are times where I've said this probably as good as we've been pre-game would have been up in Detroit where I felt like they were ready to play and play hard.  Back to your point, I think it is their job.  If it is not happening, if it is not happening over a long period of time, then we are going to look at other options.  That is our business."

Have you spoken to the team today?

"Yes."

Official team photos of fans from the New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers game on Sunday, December 7, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)

 What was your message?

"Some of it I have alluded to it already and some of It is just for the team and myself.  I will leave it at that.  We have talked about being that team.  We have talked about some of the silly penalties.  We have talked about the turnovers.  We've talked about the things that keep you from winning games.  Before you go out and win a game you have to prevent yourself from losing the game.  I will say this I credit Carolina.  They came in here and obviously came off a tough loss and have had a tough stretch of games and beat us in every area."

Can you talk about the fight in the end zone?

"Like any of those things it starts off with some shoving and then at some point it escalates.  It is not on the coaches tape but look the quickest way to stop that is not let them get in the end zone."

Is there a level of disappointment yesterday because it was a division game and the second time you are playing them?

"I think the biggest thing for me and I've said this afterwards when the topic of a home game, I meant what I said in regards to if you play like that it doesn't matter if you are at Tad Gormley Stadium or if you are on the road or at home.  The disappointment for me and I think our players is that there are X number of games that our fans pay to see.  We've raised the bar to what they expect and what they should expect and certainly that was the antithesis of how I'd expect us to play at home, really.  That is the thing that was the most disappointing.  With a lot on the line being at the second game against them, obviously it is a division game but the fact of the matter is these are just units at the end of the season, someone wins the division and doesn't.  Each unit counts as the same.  The biggest thing that was disappointing for me was the fact that on a full week we couldn't play better than that."

Third downs on offense felt like a new issue.

"Just all the things necessary, up until yesterday, we've been first in the league on third down conversions.  Yesterday we weren't.  We had eight dropped passes.  There are a number of things."

What is your takeaway on Jimmy Graham's performance?

"I didn't see any extra, one of the things that happens defending a player like Jimmy (Graham) is sometimes it is a linebacker and sometimes it is a safety.  I think overall he like the rest of the guys on offense, there are things when you look at the tape and you think we are going to watch it as a group that we have to be better at.  We have to be able to handle some balls that are thrown our way and sometimes it is going to be tight and sometimes it is going to bumped.  It is part of the deal."

When you say you didn't see a lot of loafs, does that mean the errors were mental?

"I saw alignment problems.  I saw execution problems.  I saw guys not aligned with leverage the way they're supposed to be.  I saw poor tackling.  I saw dropped balls.  I saw turnovers.  I saw fumbles.  I saw really some loose ball security issues that were not turnovers that could have very easily been.  There is time whereas coaches we go back and look at the tape and we have to have a better plan and be more prepared for the QB-run game.  That ended up being significant.  The plays he (Cam Newton) had rushing, when he goes north of 100 yards I'd guess they haven't lost many games.  Those are the things that stand out when you watch the tape.  Blown coverages, there is a guy loose in man to man and it is their top receiver something is wrong."

Could a lack of discipline spiral out of control and guys get frustrated and start trying really hard but they don't channel it properly?

"Pressing is one thing but I think when it shows up a handful of times, now if you're on your guy and he makes a play that's one thing.  For a guy to be running loose in man coverage either we're not covering enough, it would start there, either we are not covering enough or we are not focused enough to pick up what we need to pick up coverage-wise.  So those are the things that look, you ask yourself all the time.  Obviously if it is not happening on tape we haven't covered it enough or we need to look at who we are asking to do it.  Those are the two things that you go to."

Is it one of those things that guys get rattled that they forget what they have been taught?

"No, I would say this, back to we are that team, when we have some success early then all of a sudden there is a certain way you see us play potentially play but I don't know how mentally tough we have been when we've gotten hit in the mouth early on.  When you play in this league there are going to be those momentum shifts and you are going to have to be able to collect yourself, get onto the next play and I think we've probably struggled in that area in all areas this season."

Does it feel like the tables have turned?

"It's the smart, assignment, all of those things in regards to not beating yourself.  We are currently that team though, opposite of that."

Do you feel like it has been a long time for you as a coach that you have had to address the problems you said?

"It has been a while.  You would go back to the 2007 team starting off 0-4.  That was a .500 team that sometimes played well and won, but obviously at the end of the day were (not) playoff teams and the only reason we're sitting here still with that small sliver of hope is just because the way the division's unfolded this year.  The bigger picture of (is of) how we're doing and so yeah I would say it's been a while.  But regardless of how this league changes there are some key things that hold true every year and that is prior to rule changes, prior to shot gun, it is still about blocking and tackling, it is still about the fundamentals of ball security and when those start to slip then you start seeing inconsistent results and that is what we are seeing right now.  That is just the truth."

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