New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, October 23, 2017
What do you feel you have learned about your team as the season has progressed through six games?
"I think the games have been different and yet I feel like in some of the games the way we played in the second half, being at Miami (in London), and yesterday helped us secure a win. I think our numbers on third down have been better. Yesterday, they were better for us in the second half defensively and overall offensively. We continue to stress the takeaway/giveaway (ratio). We were minus one yesterday and we won despite that, but there are still a lot of things that we're working on to improve on that we have to improve on and yet fortunately we've been in a position to win games in making those corrections."
Has Ted Ginn Jr. done exactly what you envisoned for him?
"I think he provides speed, he's a guy who's elusive and it's trying to each week in a game plan put together things that guys do well."
What has impressed you working with him so far?
"I think he's smooth in his routes, you can see him catch and advance, we had a little middle screen yesterday with him. He caught an inside dodge route, outside, you see him win the battle. You work on those things during the week and I think that it's something that there's a savviness and experience to him that you can see."
I know you have always emphasized taking the ball away, but have not had as much success at times until recently. What do you do besides emphasizing it in meetings or practice to promote it?
"I've seen it defensively where you spend a lot of time on how you take it away. Generally, if you can apply pressure to the quarterback and he has to throw quicker that can lead to turnovers in the passing game or sack fumbles. I think conversely, offensively the ball security by those runners or receivers that have it has been good and the same way with the decisions and security in the pocket with Drew (Brees). Those are all things you point at in the offseason, you look at and look to improve on."
What do you appreciate most about Dennis Allen's role and helping to turn around the production on defense?
"He is sharp with his football understanding, he communicates well. He is flexible each week to look at the plan and communicate it to the staff. I think that he is also a real good staff member, someone that I've been with for a long time. It is really taking the pieces and the strong suits of players on that side of the ball and then trying to let them do those things."
Does Dennis have some sort of an identity about what he likes to do philosophically and have you guys tried to build the personnel that can do it?
"There has got to be, and one of the credits to Dennis is flexibility. It's not 'here's the plan and find players to plug in the plan', as much as. 'Here's what our current roster consists of and then having some flexibility within that.' Sometimes the best plans involve little pressure and yet we have been able to mix things up and have some flexibility that way. Especially even within the personnel groupings, (the) three safeties package, the nickel package, the base. Those are all things I think that lead to good defense."
What are some of the more gratifying things that have happened in the last five weeks for you with this team?
"Guys work hard at their job and when you get results and you win, obviously you come back and build some momentum off of it. You make corrections. I think the gratification in coaching or teaching sometimes can come with individual plays, with improvement of players, with the improvement of an overall team and that goes without saying. It is a tough business. It is tough to come to work on Mondays when you lose. You develop that mental toughness of getting back to work and putting a plan (together) and putting the right plan back together. I think it is very important to understand what kept you from winning or what you didn't do well. I think even in these wins, there are a lot of things yesterday that we have to get corrected, that'll creep up and hurt us down the road."
The whole subject or idea that you've made the climb from last place in the NFC South to first with 10 games to go, I don't know if it's relevant or not. Can you talk about being in first place?
"I do not think anyone is paying attention to the quarter poll. I think that what we are paying attention to most are the things we have to clean up. We have to be able to block for the PAT, the field goal. We have to be able to catch a punt. We can't let a runner run right through the middle of our defense untouched for 70 yards. We have to make sure we understand how we're blocking a certain play. We have to understand coverages. We have to understand the location of the football in certain looks. These are all things that even a week ago in the Detroit win in the second half, there were a number of things that championship teams are not doing and we are working to get better in those areas."
Are you telling the guys to avoid certain fermented dairy products?
"Just as three weeks ago or four weeks ago I get a kick out of week four, (the talk of) who is in the playoffs. That stuff is just white noise and the same way with where we're at right now. We haven't hit the halfway point of the season yet and really the bulk of our divisional games and it is what it is. You're glad you're playing in a way where you win some games. We have another tough team that's coming in this week that's coming off of a couple of wins. Our focus, we're real early in the season still relative to the amount of football we have left."