New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean PaytonPost-Practice Media Availability Friday, September 11, 2015
Opening Statement:"Just real quick, (it was) the normal Friday routine for us (with) the emphasis being a lot of red zone work (as well as) a lot of short yardage and goal line."
You have 12 rookies on the roster; did you anticipate having that many or did it just end up that way?
"I don't know that we would have anticipated three free agent defensive linemen and another one on the practice squad. I don't think that that could have been something that we ever thought would be the case. We try not to go in with a mindset of who we think, obviously, in the selection process there is a vision. With every player we sign or draft, you have to be able to answer a vision first or at least discuss the vision. Sometimes it just unfolds in a way that is different than you expected. We had a vision for Marcus Murphy. Now, let's see him do it. Fortunately, we saw enough that we thought that it matched our vision. That is a good thing."
Do you coach differently when you have 12 rookies?
"I think that you are mindful of the team. You recognize that, for a lot of these guys, it is their first NFL game. I think the most important thing is that they understand that we play these games on Sunday but we have an opportunity to win them on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. How we practice, the attention to detail, (is what) is going to allow you to play better on Sunday. I think at times, when you are talking to the team, for me a challenge all the time is that there are certain past stories that you think maybe 90 percent of them have heard, and really there are only four that have heard them. You have to remind yourself of that."
I know you are always dealing with injuries throughout the season. Does it concern you to be this early in the season and already be in this kind of situation?
"I think that you look at your first game and you recognize that this is the group that is playing. Let's get them ready to play. You can certainly dwell, and yet I am fired up that we found a Delvin Breaux in the offseason. To get a player like him who comes in to a workout and he's got nine other visits lined up; I remember that workout like it was yesterday. Fortunately, the guys that you are referencing and that we're talking about not playing in this game, I think all are going to be back fairly soon. That is part of the deal."
Does that give you cause for optimism, the fact that you feel that way about it?
"It is week one and I don't know that it is a positive or a negative. It is just focusing on the players that you know you have and that are up for this game (and) making sure that they are in the best position as possible to have success. I would be, probably much like every other player and coach, anxious for this first game, excited, and all of those things that cross your mind when you start a season with a new team."
How do you feel about the championship potential of this team compared to the one you had a year ago going into the season?
"I really don't start the season with the idea of potential. This is a long process and it starts this weekend."
How was this week of practice? How would you sum it up?
"I thought (it was) good. It is always that first week where the roster is getting put together (and) your practice squad is getting put together. We have had weeks, we've played in that Thursday game three different times so some of the challenges with that schedule is your practice squad availability for a Sunday practice. I would say, from a scheduling standpoint, it was pretty typical. I thought the work was good."
Headsets are a trending topic; have you had trouble before (with them) at a game?
"The very first time (for me) was in 1997. (Jon) Gruden was the coordinator and I was with the Eagles. He was up in the box and I had the wireless. We were in Dallas (and it was) Monday Night Football. We had a real exotic way of signaling, if they were to go out. Ty Detmer's helmet thing was struggling and communications weren't good. Here I am, a rookie coach in the NFL, having to signal about 80 different plays. It was a nightmare. I would say that every year, of the 16 games we have, we're going to have (issues with communications) three-or-four times. Sometimes (there are) issues at home. There is a group that each team has. We have a couple of guys that are in charge of it. There are two issues; there is the wireless to the QB and the linebacker, and then your overall static. That comes up periodically and you deal with it. I don't think that it is unusual."
You ever have any trouble in New England?
"No, not in New England. Generally, it is a frequency thing. A lot of times, when it comes to the communication to the QB or the linebacker, it's a user error. I think it varies. I can't specifically think of different places but I know that three times a season you're going to have some issue. You just have to be ready for that and be able to handle it. It is not uncommon."
(With) all of the major changes that you made, do you feel good about them?
"I'd like to think so. We're excited. That is the feeling of that excitement and anticipation of the first game. We'll get a chance to see here, not just in one week, but we'll see over a period of time. We're excited about guys that we brought in. It hasn't worked out for every one of them, even in this first year, but to have an opportunity now to watch them in a live game where they are going to play more than just a quarter or a half, it is exciting. We'll get a chance to see."
Is there any potential of bringing Kenny Phillips or Parys Haralson back?
"Yeah, we'll see. Those are players that, obviously with Parys, know our system well. He has been a big leader for us and a valuable contributor. Kenny, I thought, did a real good job. Kenny, much like (Tim) Hightower, really came in and got in shape, and after an injury, much like Hightower, was able to produce again. He is healthy and absolutely there is a chance. Week-to-week you're trying to put your best group together. It is one of the reasons that we had a workout on Tuesday of this week. We had a bunch of different position groups in here to make sure that our short-list is up-to-speed. If there is an injury or something that happens, hopefully it is updated. It would not be unusual to be talking to a player (on that list) on Sunday on the bus ride to the airport, if you're on the road."
Brandin Cooks was saying yesterday that no matter how many times someone would explain to him what it was like to play his first game as a rookie, you just can't be prepared until you actually do that. Do you agree with that?
"I think there is some truth to that. It is no different than the veteran who hasn't played in the Super Bowl. You get into the flow of the game, but the first thing that you have to do is begin."
Do you have a shorter leash on those guys? Are you weary of that?
"It is not so much the leash. I think you just have to look at your list and make sure that your play list or your call list, defensively, isn't too comprehensive. We always use that term that each year you start over. You're never trying to just pick up where you left off. We pay attention to that and quickly these guys will get that experience that we are referencing."
I think (University of Phoenix Stadium) has led the league in offensive false start penalties; is there something about that environment there? Did you focus on that at all?
"We focused on it from a standpoint of crowd noise. Generally, the away stadiums can create crowd noise loud enough to where it is a challenge. There are some, obviously, that are more significant than others. Part of that I would credit the defense too. In other words, the defense that is playing for Arizona. They do a really good job of rushing the passer and they can cause confusions in your protection if you're not on point. It is relatively new and I am sure that their environment, week one, will be loud there especially. They have a natural grass surface, much like our practice fields. They'll be some nuances to get used to, the signage and where the scoreboard and all of that are. We have to be prepared in all of these road games, to handle that with a silent count and all of the things that you can to help combat it."
Any thoughts on Bill Belichick's response to the headset story overshadowing the play on the field?
"You know how I feel about him. The fact of the matter is that (with) their accomplishments, there is a bit of envy that every one of us has. I have said it before, it is hard to win in this league, year in and year out, and to do it as much as they have is real impressive. Like I said at the onset, the headset issue is something that is going to happen two-to-four times a year. You just deal with it. It happens to us as much at home as it does (on the road). Generally, it is some frequency or something. Often times it is not our guy's fault and yet I would say that 100 percent of the time I yell at him. Most of the time it's not his fault. I think that they have gotten better with that. I don't think that they go out as often but with all of the things that are going on in a stadium (something is bound to happen). I mean the lights went out at a Super Bowl one year."
A lot of people think that you had something to do with that.
"Listen, I had an alibi."
Do you think that it's kind of funny that with how far technology has come, people can't get headsets to work?
"I am not an expert in any of it, but when you look at a stadium and you look at all of the stuff with production, television and radio feeds, all of that stuff, I am sure that all of it can, potentially, present challenges. Sometimes, when you walk past the thirty yard line, in either direction, it is broken up. We had a game in the preseason, at home here, that it was in-and-out. You deal with it. That is pretty normal. I wouldn't say that it was unusual. That is doing it 16 or 17 years now."
With all of the focus on the locker room this year and creating a good environment in there, does it concern you that one of your captains is dealing with an off the field issue heading into the season?
"You always want the best for your players. As a coach, often times you are a father figure to them. With regards to where that goes, that will all handle itself. I like this group. I like the leadership that we have on this team, in regards to the makeup. That is something that I think that I have a pretty good keen sense for. I like the way that they have handled the transformation, if you will, that happens every year with every team in our league. When you get different personalities, young and old, that come in; I like it."