New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Monday, October 26, 2015
When you have three plays like you did yesterday, is it almost a signal for your team that you are going to put on the accelerator to close out games aggressively?
"Well, one of the challenges in our league during the four minute, you know getting that final first down, and I'm going back to the final drive. When you're looking at two and a half minutes with a two-minute warning, potentially a timeout or two, it's really a long time, long enough that the opposing team may not be in the hurry up depending on where the ball is placed if you punt it. You're wanting to execute your offense. Now there is a period of time where you're wanting to bleed the clock, and yet you know we felt the best way to get that last first down was throwing it. It was third and four or five. We have Marques matched up on a smaller corner. Now, coming out, one of the things that concerns you when you're on the one often times is any minus yardage running play can potentially be a safety. We took a little bit more aggressive approach a couple times there and obviously hit Brandin Cooks on the long play. I think it's important that your players feel like we came here to win, and so sometimes those calls can be aggressive and yet there is a mindset that has been well thought out, and each week that can vary."
With that pass to Colston at the end, what does that say about how Drew Brees feels about him in such a crucial moment in the game?
"Well, it was big, certainly. His role each week, depending on who we are playing, we try to get him on the field on some of those third downs and red zone opportunities. His size and ability to really high point balls (is a strength). The thing that he has done great over his career is above his shoulders he's caught passes in front, behind and even well behind, purposely. It's a strength of his, and so yesterday that very same thing happened. He's at that inside slot position, and he's matched up bump and run, and he essentially works a wide fade with the outside receiver coming underneath and really you have that whole field then. Knowing it was man to man, Drew did a real good job locating the ball on a high point back-shoulder throw. Marques reaches up with a small defender covering him and you look at that play, it's almost for those two like completing a go route. As opposed to a go route, you see the finish, coming down securing the ball, and at that point we knew we were on a knee."
It looked like Drew released the pass before Marques even looked. Was that designed to go right to Marques?
"Yeah, it was something we really tweaked right there during the clock stoppage. There was a timeout and we knew we were going to get man to man pressure, and the play prior we threw the same combination into the short side. We just switched it around and said, 'Hey, let's look at Marques on this' and Drew did a great job of timing it up and he has such confidence in knowing that that's how Marques gets into routes. Those guys spend a ton of time (working together) after practice. If you counted the hours those two spent post practice for the last ten years, I'm not sure it wouldn't equal a year. Then, all of a sudden on a third and four in a game, it pays off, and the execution was fantastic."
On the pass to the end zone that was intercepted, was there a mix up between Drew and Marques?
"No, it really ended up being a full blitz look, and so Drew is coming away from the snap and is throwing it quickly trying to get through his progressions, and Drew knows that he's one short in protection and I think it's more about Drew trying to anticipate a safe area to throw. Number one, it's not going to be intentional grounding because Drew knows that there is a receiver in that area it's going to be Marques, but the clock in Drew's head is very fast because it's zero blitz and it's short because obviously Marques is working a route with a little bit more timing involved, and so it wasn't as much a miscommunication as it was a real good play by the corner."
Was there a reason why you split the running back carries how you did?
"No, I think we tried to, rather than have all these various tags, we wanted to let Mark (Ingram) get into a groove early with a couple series, and then at some point give Khiry (Robinson) a series, (and then) get Mark back in. We kind of went more traditional (in our) approach there and I think sometimes it becomes a little random because one is in the game and we move the ball down the field, but we try to really keep the fresh guy in there and let them stack plays together. I think it has benefited both runners."
How about the run game in general?
"Well, obviously you would say it was a better game than we've had in a while. We had some explosive runs. I think, going back looking at it now, the one thing that stood out is from a rushing statistic, I think we ended up with five or six big plays in the running game, which is a high number. Our guys up front did a really good job at the point of attack, and that's a good defense we played. It was encouraging and certainly something to build on."
Does adversity sharpen the mentality of winning on the road?
"Well I think it can. In both cases we felt, and we talked in the beginning of the week about the team we were playing and understanding their record following a loss is 15-2, this is going to be a team that's hungry just as we are and it was real important for our players to understand the type of game that they were going to get into. Then throughout the week the focus was really internal with ourselves and doing the things that we feel like give us a chance to play good football. That mindset during the course of the game, there are moments where you have a chance to reaffirm the message, if you will, with a certain call that you do and maybe it's pointed out in the middle of the week that we are going to do this and here's what it's going to be and how we're going to do it, and then obviously anytime you do that and you have success then there is a lot gained from that."
Do you feel that with so many new faces it took a little while to figure out what they do best?
"Well I think it's more along the lines of when you have a younger team there are certain things that maybe I haven't had to emphasize as much that you can't take for granted. Things come up weekly, whether it's a rule or something outside of being on the field. The first week we started the season I had guys asking where they park at the airport and told them that we all go to Atlantic Aviation, that's where we all go. I had 14 that had no idea where Atlantic Aviation is, so it's quickly getting up to speed and quickly improving each week. I think our younger players have done that. I like the enthusiasm they are playing with and that's something, that energy and enthusiasm, can go a long way."
Can you talk about all the fourth down calls that have worked out lately, and does that instill confidence in a young team? Would you do that more than if you had a veteran team?
"Well I think it's situational. Look, I'm like everyone else on offense, I hate punting. You're constantly looking at where you're at on the field and I think that's important. It's easy to say we are going to go for it, but if the time of possession is in favor of the opponent during the game and they are moving the football, it can vary. So I think that, certainly, we are digging here trying to get out of a hole, and you have to be able to take some risk in doing that, and yet I think a lot of it is the play you're thinking about and then, situationally, where you are at on the field. Those are the two things that come to my mind. Do you have something you love? Do you have a play? It's easy to say I have a number of plays, but sometimes you're having success and you run a play, and I talk about this all the time with two point plays, typically they show up on your goal line to five yard list and if you get down there early in the game you're not going to not call it and save it for a two-point play. It's really what's going on during the flow of the game and what you feel like you're ready to call and execute."
The defense got twelve deflections. What do you attribute that too?
"Well, I think that was significant, and it was a point of emphasis this week. Andrew (Luck) does a good job of climbing that pocket. He stays in there and hangs in there. He has a strong presence. When you're playing some zone coverages, there are some areas of the field that the ball is more likely to go to. Does that make sense? This is important when you're playing certain zone coverages, you can predict where the ball is going to a few different spots and in doing that there is a good chance the flight path of the ball is going to travel over the defensive tackles or the B or A gaps. If you know the flight path is going to be that way with the coverage pattern, then that can help. I thought they did a good job of that."
Based on the two plays you challenged, what is your view on the catch rule now?
"Well I'm comfortable with the rule now. Look, the ball can't wiggle, bobble, and bounce, all those things we know it to be. I think everyone understands that aspect of the rule. That's not complicated. I think the challenge for everyone, including the officials, and including our league, I think we are improving in this area, (is determining) when the possession begins and when is he an active runner. We know how it has to finish, but what point are you now running with the football, where it's been received and now if you go to the ground it's the ground that is causing the fumble, which obviously the ball is down and you're down right there. I don't have a problem with the rule right now. I think it's just getting more used to when the catch begins and is there movement."
How did you grade Cam Jordan and Terron Armstead in this game? Pro Football Focus gave them their highest grade ever.
"They did have good games. I don't know who Pro Football Focus is, or who the experts are that are grading the tape for them, but I would say both of them had real good games."
Is it more than just sacks for Cameron Jordan?
"The last two weeks have been outstanding. He's playing with good energy. He has gotten production inside with some of the inside rush and outside and also played well in the base."
Did Damian Swann have a setback?
"We just held him out. We felt that we wanted to wait another week."
Was Drew being instinctive to just throw the ball away when you could have taken a sack to burn the clock?
"Yeah, I mean here is what happens sometimes: When you take your drop and you're hung on a pattern and you go through a progression and there is that moment where you're looking for that completion, and look, obviously we're at a portion of the game where we want to move the clock, time is on our side and we want to make it, certainly, an ally, and yet it's early in the game. There is still enough time where we are playing football, and so I think instinctively you are trying to not get a sack fumble and I'm sure that is where Drew was at (in his thought process). I thought he handled it. A handful of times we were able to put out the punt team on the field and bleed the clock down 30 seconds and take a delay or call a timeout or in one case they called a late timeout. I thought we were able to bleed some of that game. (The game) Didn't seem like it was ever going to end really, but we were able to take advantage of the clock and we were lucky that we had the luxury of having timeouts in the second half unlike the first half."
Did Seantavius Jones get a game ball yesterday?
"Yes, he had a death in the family. I think every one of us were sad for him and wanted to make sure he felt we were with him."
What was your take on how Joe Vitt coached through the week?
"He was full of energy. That's what he does. That was his 600th game yesterday in the NFL. Our stat guy (figured that out) after going through research and going through the numbers. He began right out of college with the Baltimore Colts, then Seattle, down to L.A., Philadelphia, Green Bay, Kansas City, St. Louis. He had a great week of practice despite the challenges, and our team feeds off that energy."
How has your message evolved throughout this season?
"I think when they come back, win or lose, we have to be brutally honest with 'hey, here are some things we are doing well, this gets me fired up, and here are some things we have to correct.' The penalties for instance yesterday. There was a handful of those penalties. There is one that, man, we are going to get a roughing the punter in our favor, but we run into the punt returner for the second time. We are going to have another whole series. Just situational football, and then what we are doing well and what we need to improve on, and as that takes turns, here is who we are playing and what they do well and this is what is going to happen for us to win the game, and challenging the players, coaches and all of us to put our best week in front of us."
How rewarding is it for guys that aren't normally on the field like Brian Dixon and Kyle Wilson to be making plays?**
"I think it is extremely important, especially as that week progressed and Damian (Swann), he was cleared but had some lingering effects and we have always gone heavily on the conservative side with that type of injury, and with where Keenan (Lewis) was at, to see Kyle Wilson step in. He is a smart player both in zone and man (coverages), he has played some safety for us, and then to see Brian Dixon come in there and play the snaps he played, it really is good for your team to see that, and our players quickly appreciate that. A week ago it was left tackle, and they understand that it is just a snap here and all of a sudden you have to get prepared to play."