New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - End of the Season Media Availability - Wednesday, January 30, 2019
What is it now a week and a half? It feels like it has been longer than that. I would say honestly after the game for two to three days, much like normal people, I sat, probably didn't come out of my room, I ate Jeni’s ice cream, and watched Netflix for three straight days. There are certain vices you gravitate to. For me it's probably sugar. Much of what we told the team, obviously there are disappointments that you go through relative to your season and in this one where it happened in the postseason. We have to be able to get past that and we will. We have good leadership on this team and I don't know that you ever completely get over it, but I think you do get past it. There's enough resolve I think that this time away is healthy and when it starts back up again in the spring and we'll look at that calendar, you get back at it again.”
Is the makeup of the team important when something like this happens?
“Absolutely. The makeup of the team has a lot to do with why you're playing in a game like that to begin with.”
Are you satisfied with the explanation that you got from the league and all the people you talked to?
“The first time I spoke with anyone was in the locker room right after the game and Al Riveron, as disappointing as it was to talk with him about it, was fantastic. He was brutally honest. That came from him directly and then after that briefly on Monday and Tuesday I spoke with Troy (Vincent) and Roger (Goodell) and it was just brief.”
As a member of the competition committee can you explain what needs to be evaluated as to whether pass interference should be reviewable?
“It's very common in our league for certain events to take place and then there's a reaction maybe in the offseason where we look at (those events). Oftentimes we find our own flaws because of some loophole. If you look throughout the history of our game, the forward fumble by the Raiders (“The Holy Roller”), there's been these events that at times potentially change rules. I can't say specifically. I know I like the fact that I'm a part of that committee and I know every offseason, the members of that committee, we all sit down and really try to grind on how to make this game better safer and then present it to ownership and the other coaches. This year will be no different. Certainly there'll be topics like this that are brought up. The topic is one thing; the solution is the more challenging thing that we're all looking for.”
Do you have a specific solution that you would advance?
“Not yet. I think that we are further along now with technology, but not anything specific right now. I think talking to your peers and your other fellow coaches and people in the business, there are a lot of great ideas you take. I think what happened in the kickoff and how we took the special team coaches (opinions), we took a lot of people that were experts in that area and sat them down and I think they came up with a real good solution this (past) offseason. This (issue) specifically really pertains to timing of games. How much can be reviewed. That's a little bit more challenging.”
How about one challenge to challenge a judgment call as a potential rules change? Do you think that’s a possibility?
“You can put that in a little slip, send it in a box, and we’ll consider it. Again, it’s timing and is it functional, is it practical.”
Is it common or uncommon to talk to league officials with an officiating issue right after games? Does that typically take place?
“That doesn't happen often. Occasionally it does. It might be something (where) there might been a call that you're like…We played the Raiders here a few years ago (2016) I think opening weekend, but that's not typically the norm and Al (Riveron) was great.”
What was the nature of your conversation with Roger Goodell?
“It was brief and between he and I.”
*Would a public statement from the league make any difference at this point? *
“Again, I'm back to the ice cream and the Netflix. There is a point where you know that things are not changing and then you get wrapped up in a new series, a new episode, and then it comes back again and then you get wrapped up in a new series, a new episode so.”
What have you been watching on Netflix?
“Man, all of it. You name it.”
What would you recommend for the offseason?
“Listen, you watch the Ted Bundy tapes then all of a sudden you watch a series called “You” and it's like when Ted Bundy met Dawson's Creek. It's brutal.”
With the elapsed time, does it give you a chance to reflect on the accomplishments that the team did have individually and collectively?
“Probably not as much. I'm proud of (this team). This is a team that won 14 games with a pretty good schedule, played a lot of good teams, a lot of playoff teams. Considering the season they had the year before (that) is encouraging (to continue to improve). Those are a lot of wins. Obviously, you want to be in that last game and it didn't work out, but outside of that it's still early in that process.”
*You said you eventually come to a point where you know there's nothing you can do about it. Did you try to pursue anything? *
“It was fairly early (the realization). No. My discussions briefly on Monday and Tuesday with the commissioner and with Troy (Vincent) were relative to just not any type of reversal or anything like that. It was just simply the play and any statement. There's tons of people that reach out to you. You receive a ton of text messages and emails. You're appreciative of all that and then you just want to disappear into your cave for a while.”
How long was anger a part of your emotion?
“I don't know. It was maybe the first 24 hours. After that it was just disappointment.”
Do you follow along with the lawsuit or the parade proposals?
What did you make of the way the public supports the team? This community has kept the issue in the forefront of the news nationally.
"I have not really seen a lot of it. Look, we have a fantastic, obviously great fan base that is passionate. For that to happen and as difficult as that is to happen at home, I can only imagine. I haven’t really kept up with a lot of that. I think they too, like our players and like everyone else, eventually you never forget it, (but) you move on from it though.”
Do you think the team can be more motivated from what happened last season?
“I don't know that that's what drives athletes or competitors. It's certainly a chip on your shoulder (that) has always been a healthy edge for anyone and look (for example) for years the Raiders had a good chip on their shoulders (and) won a lot of games. But I think today's athlete it's the bond that's created in the locker room and not wanting to let each other down (and) wanting to play their best game for each other. I think those are probably more effective in terms of motivation.”
Have you talked to Jon Gruden about the call, given that he experienced a similar late-game, controversial setback in a playoff game?
“Sure, He's a close friend. Yes, he was one of the early calls. There aren’t too many people you can call that would be able to reflect on a situation like that. You hang up the phone and the news is still what it was before you called though, right?”
What's your process for proposing a rule change and can you do that as a member of the competition committee?
“Each member or club can. Each member or club each year it would be very common for member or clubs to have several proposals some playing rules, some bylaws. That takes place every spring at the owners meeting. I think the dialogue and then just thinking through the proper type of proposal relative to not just replay, but relative to our game as the game changes, I think that's always important, but that takes place every year.”
Would you expect the Saints to propose a change?
“It's not as important as who proposes it, because typically there'll be groups of teams talking about it, so it's not as important as who, (it) is really the quality of this (proposal). Is it something you agree with or you think will pass?”
Are you going to watch the game Sunday?
“I hadn't really thought about it. I don't know that it'll be difficult. I'm sure I'll watch because that's kind of what we do. But I hadn't even gotten that far ahead, even relative to where I will be. Probably be with family.”
What did Joe Brady do on your staff well that allowed him the opportunity at LSU?
“Yeah, listen Joe brought a ton of information for us. Did a great job, he was involved in a lot of the breakdown of opponents, a lot of the drawings. He had coached in college and was very familiar with some of the RPO game and added a lot to our staff. We're excited that he has this opportunity.”
I think the second debatable topic after the game was the decision to not run three straight times, what was your thought process that series?
“First off, the very first topic wasn’t debated. It wasn't debated, right? (laughter). Nor was it debatable. There was as TV time out prior to the whole sequence. We knew that there were a few options, three straight runs obviously brings it down to about 58 seconds and we're ahead three. You can even hear me talk to Drew (Brees). Like look I want to score here. The first play was a run with a built in kind of an RPO. The look was clean and it was a little tough navigating the pass rush. Obviously time's important, but they had two timeouts at the time, so we threw it, we ran it and then we threw it again on third down and again philosophically I didn't feel comfortable with just (running it). The idea of running it to score was the perfect scenario, but three straight runs, kick a field goal they come back and tie and then why didn't you (go for it). That's not debatable either.”
Do you think that not getting a touchdown off the turnover early was a game-changing drive?
“There were a ton of back and forth and it ended up being 20-20. It was a playoff game with both defenses playing well and we settled for field goals early. All of those things you think about, yes.”
Are there going to be any staff changes besides Joseph Brady?
“None, I'll keep you posted if there are, but nothing right now.”
What would you tell the fan base to help them move on?
“Same thing we talked about as a team. It's not going to happen overnight and it'll take a little bit of time you know obviously, but it's why we like this game. Football is like life, it's not always going to be how you planned it. It's not always going to be fair and sometimes you get punched (and) you get up and there's that toughness and grit element that's involved with this game that I think fascinates us all with it.”
Why did the offense slow down the last six weeks after playing so well the first twelve weeks of the season?
“We played some pretty good defenses and yet I think it's a fair question. We had a stretch, maybe it was all unrealistic to (keep up with) what we were scoring and how we were scoring and that feeling coming off of games like Cincinnati and the Rams early in the year. Philosophically, the Rams have changed a lot of what they were doing defensively, to a much more zone approach (by the time of the playoffs). But the Eagles, they were a tough defense (in the playoffs), they were (a) tough out and that's the nature of the game. You get to the playoffs and you're not scoring 40 points that often. We are constantly critiquing ourselves and trying to be better at it.”
What is the biggest critique coming out of the game and what do you wish you all would have done?
“I think the early field position (where) we had opportunities to score more points.”
Could you outline the big plan for the offseason and personnel?
“No, I think it's too early to do that. This is supposed to be a recap and then that's what this is like. We're mandated to do this. It's good being here and then the Combine (media availability) is optional, but best practice is I think would be the term we get and then the draft is mandatory. Look there's always this time of the season where a number of things that you have to do relative to your team. This week will be spent on our team this week and into next week on the evaluation of our own players. There are always some challenges you head into the offseason with and that's why we're here to figure them out. That's kind of where we're at with our calendar. All right. Thank you.”