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Q&A: Sean Payton's Wednesday Conference Call

Audio and quotes from Sean Payton's Wednesday conference call

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with Local Media
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What did you see out of Brandon Coleman and Tommylee Lewis this week?

"I'd say both of them had some real good snaps (and) graded out well. Coleman, not only in the passing game graded out well, but in the run game. (Coleman) Did a good job of getting on the edge, with (Willie) Snead down in that game, part of Snead's value is some of the stuff he does, in regards to the run game, handling the force and some of that fell on Brandon Coleman, but Tommylee Lewis the same way, had a couple big plays for us. Always, there are a few things you want to clean up from a technique standpoint or alignment standpoint, but both those players had solid efforts."

From a run defense standpoint, did it seem more physical or mental or a combination of both?

"I would say both. I think we're late, we're behind blocks, consequently we're on the ground more, we're reaching more, alignments were poor. In general, we didn't play well at all at linebacker and I would say in the front it was very average at best. It's one of those tapes that you want to make sure there are not a ton of copies of, because it is not real pretty."

What can you do to correct some of the special teams blunders?

"You look to reduce and you look to make sure you're keeping it simple. That's been a while, typically when you're returning a punt backed up like that or fair catching a punt, past 15 yards we're off and using (our) eyes. Look, it's a young mistake and it was costly and there is really no excuse for it."

How big of a concern is depth to you guys right now?

"One of the tricks is managing the roster right now. It's forced us to make some roster decisions and ultimately when you start working with moving parts, where you have some backups playing more, there is an attrition that can happen, just in the kicking game because those guys go from being 18 play, special team players, to 40 or 50 snap players and I think we have a handful of guys working to get healthy here. We have an opportunity to get a number of these guys back in time for this game and then certainly after the bye."

Was B.W. Webb playing in defensive packages rather than De'Vante Harris part of the gameplan going in?

"The first part of it was getting (B.W.) Webb involved. He's only been here a week last week and we like the progress of (De'Vante) Harris. We feel like he's (Harris) a young talented player and yet there are some experience factors that go into that. We knew that first week Webb would be inactive and this past week our decision was made to get him (Webb) in and move Sterling (Moore) inside into the nickel."

Have you lost any confidence in De'Vante Harris?

"We have a young, young corner, who we think plays the nickel and we think he plays it pretty well and yet we felt this past week putting (B.W.) Webb outside and then moving Sterling (Moore) inside. It's (Atlanta) a team that runs the ball and Sterling's stature, size playing that nickel, I think is a little bit bigger than where (De'Vante) Harris is."

In what areas have you seen growth from Ken Crawley this season?

"Man I know this, it's not too big for him and I like that. I think he's (Crawley) stepped up and he too being a rookie free agent, has really handled the coverages (well). He has good ball skills, a week ago he's in position there in New York and granted he's not able to make the play, but his location, his head (being) around (the ball), all those things are on point and there's going to be some bumps along the way for a young corner, like there would be with anyone, but I thought he played overall pretty well. I thought the corner play this past weekend was pretty good."

With Crawley, you mentioned the ball against the New York Giants that went through his hands; he had the one (defensive pass interference against Atlanta).

"Like I said, he has good ball skills. I like this guy's ball skills. The play in New York, two guys are going for it. He will work to reach out and pluck that, but I like the way he is playing. He graded out well this past weekend."

Can you talk about what you saw from Nick Fairley and how he played this week? How has he grown from the start of the season?

"I would say hot and cold a little bit. When it gets to be a game where there is not a lot of obvious passing situations, it becomes a little bit more challenging. When they are rushing for 200 yards, it is hard to find a lot of positives in the front. I wouldn't say that his play was really, really poor. There are snaps where he gets caught in the nose (tackle position) instead of being at the three, and part of that is how we are playing the defense. We've got to look at that. Obviously, we didn't have the pressures and we didn't have the hurries, and some of the things that he does well."

How often do you see number one cornerbacks like (Desmond) Trufant shadow (Brandin) Cooks as much? Is that something that is happening more with Cooks or have you seen a lot of that?

"I think it is pretty common. It's pretty common in today's NFL. A lot of these coverages are interchangeable. You can travel and play zone. You can travel and play man. Then, if (Brandin) Cooks is inside, you know you are probably going to get their nickel. But if Trufant is inside with him, it is probably a good man-to-man indicator. In fact, some of our formations give you that man or zone read right as you line up. It's not uncommon. It's very common."

With Drew Brees returning to San Diego, is it possible to get any more rise out of him than you already get on a weekly basis?

"We just met as a team – the competitor in all of us needs to get this first win. The teams are much different, the coaching staff (and) the organization (is different). But, it is a little ironic that this is the first time in 11 years that we played at this stadium. Part of that was the London game, and then they came back here in 2012. I can't think of many other venues that we haven't been to (since they arrived in 2006). In other words, with 31 other NFL teams, this might be the last one."

How do you view Drew's play so far? It looks like he has put up some elite numbers. Where does he fit in the context of how the team is doing overall?

"I think he is playing well. He is playing at a high level. I know this – he is not interested in the numbers nor are we, aside from wins and losses. I think the plan going into last week, with regards to having a little bit of a balance, but then finding the rushes in some of the nickel personnel groupings, (such as) shotgun. I thought we did a really good job when it comes to the rushing numbers and the yards per carry. I thought (Mark) Ingram played well. We stayed on schedule that way. Not until probably the last series and a half did it strictly become one-dimensional. That is not unusual down two scores. I think the most important thing for him and all of us is our winning record, our wins and losses, more so than the other things."

Drew would be inclined to say that he needs to look at what he and the offense can do to help the defense out more, and not focus on the defense's deficiencies, which is being a good teammate; do you see it the same way?

"That is part of complementary football and part of that is time of possession, and putting together a good drive. It is the thing that a week ago we didn't do as well. We were off the field and we only converted three first downs. You guys knew that down and distance was an important point of emphasis for us this past week offensively. When you're able to stay on the field, you end up with a lot more snaps. If you tell me that you are only going to convert three third downs, I am going to tell you that you're 48 snaps in the game and everything is going to be a lot lower, your numbers and your rushing totals. Our third down numbers were better this past week offensively, (but) not good enough for us defensively. Absolutely, there is a complementary part of how you are playing a game that has to fit hand-in-hand."

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