New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean PaytonMonday Media Availability Monday, September 14, 2015
How did the group of guys that made their NFL debut yesterday look and what stood out?
"Like you would expect, I thought the younger players played with effort and energy. There is a lot of little things that need to be cleaned up just on the tape. I thought overall in the kicking game we were solid. I mentioned yesterday, I thought (Zach) Hocker obviously played well for his first start. The main thing were the specifics, not just defensively, offensively or in one specific area, but when you are coaching after the first game and we are in a race to make the corrections, the fundamental part of it I think is important, the alignment, technique and recognition. I thought the look in their eye and energy was good. Listen, and I will say this, there is a handful of veterans that had similar issues. So I thought by and large that young guys did pretty well."
Can you talk about Delvin Breaux's first start yesterday?
"He had the right look in his eye. We've kind of seen it from him all throughout camp, now that being said, past that five yard point there are some significant penalties that affect us so we have to get that part of it cleaned up and I am sure he is smart enough to do that."
He said in the CFL you can keep jamming after five or 10 yards.
"It is a transition no different than the college game to our game, so we have to get that done quick."
What did you see out of Damian Swann last night?
"He's smart. I think technique-wise he does a pretty good job. I think when we get into some zone coverages, he probably excels a little bit more in the man-to-man. He rallied and made a big play on a third down stop and yet there are some alignment things (we need to work on). We received some bunch looks, some sack looks, some tight formations that can stress you a little bit in your man coverages and those are the things, part of what we need to clean up specifically with him."
Can you address the reports about Rafael Bush tearing his pectoral muscle?
"No, we don't address issues. Wednesday you guys will receive an injury report."
Have you had a chance to evaluate the red zone work and how you want to address that this week?
"It is a point of emphasis. We had enough opportunities down there. I think the first and second down snaps are critical. We ended up converting under 50 percent on third down. The first thing that was alarming was how many third downs we had in the game, 70, 70 some snap game offensively but we were north of 15 third downs which is a little high so that tells you a little bit. Our yards per carry in the running game wasn't what we had hoped for and we understood we were playing kind of a run heavy front, but that is something that has to be better."
Why is the screen game here so effective?
"I think it applies some weeks. Some weeks it's more difficult. You put the screen reel on each week and you might look at six games where a defense has defended some type of a screen play and there are some weeks where you do not see that opportunity or they defend them well. Arizona creates problems with their rush patterns for the back to actually get through the line of scrimmage, but both Mark (Ingram) and Khiry (Robinson) had a couple opportunities and made some plays, but that can vary week to week."
How much more valuable does Mark Ingram become because he is able to execute in that part of it?
"He's smart and generally the first, one of the first traits you are looking for is awareness because there are some moving parts and being able to adjust to a stunt or some line movement when it is man-to-man how to put the defender on the guard. There are some nuances that take place, those are some of the traits that Pierre (Thomas) obviously had and I think Mark (Ingram) does as well."
Looking back at the decision to punt with 1:58 left, was that a close call?
"We talked about it. We had time so it was close enough to where it was discussed and yet we felt like it was the right thing to do. I think again, you get back to really that mark with two timeouts. Had it been a little bit closer yardage-wise we probably would have considered going for it there if it was fourth and two or three. I think that's really what played (out)."
What can you do about the red zone issue?
"It's week one and typically we've been a pretty good red zone team. It starts with the efficiency on first and second down and the emphasis (on that). There's no magic wand. You have to work on it and improve it."
But the fact that you have some inexperienced guys, do you think that has anything to do with it?
"I think when you play young players like we are they're going to get acclimated to those areas of the field. I was real encouraged by (Brandon) Coleman's play. Generally that confidence comes from having it happen in a game and I think a play like that for him is a big thing to come out of a tackle and end up getting in the end zone. We just have to continue to work on it after the first week and really pay attention to first and second down chances once we get in there. That is the same for me, really looking at sequences. I second guess myself all the time about first down calls, second down calls, those types of things."
Did you anticipate having more difficulty this year in this situation because you didn't have Jimmy Graham?
"Well, when you lose someone like him it is not one player that replaces the touches, usually it is a handful of players. Yeah, when that takes place we have to find it and still looking to have success though. That is something we will do."
14 guys played yesterday for the first time; do you have to preach to the young guys that it is only one game and to just move on to the next game?
"This team is an entirely different roster from a year ago. It is more of the now and the key is making these corrections. The urgency to improve is today, right now, and then taking that to Wednesday's practice. From week one to week two, and we have heard it said a lot, but I think the early portion of the season. It can happen with a week one win, where you are not paying as close attention to the things that are showing up on film, even though you won a game. We've got to be smart and pay attention to the specifics, the fundamentals and alignment. All of those things that you don't want to see happen again and end up costing you in a game later on in the season."
Can you explain further (about) the alarming number of third downs and how it relates to red zone? Are those easier to convert than in the middle of the field?
"The high number of third downs wouldn't necessarily relate to the red zone. The high number of third downs would tell me that it's kind of been an underneath game (and) that there were not those chunk plays. The amount of first downs converted, for instance, or the first downs that you'd have in a series, would be higher. When you have 17 or 18 third down attempts, then typically you probably have not had the explosive play. We had that one pass interference (penalty) on a deep throw to (Brandin) Cooks. As it pertains to the red area, the early down and distances have got to be more favorable. The hard calls are third-and-eight-nine-10 in the red area because your space is (limited). Those are hard calls period. Our early downs in the red zone are something that I'd look closely at, the first and second downs. The total number of third downs was high (not just in the red zone)."
In terms of having space in the red zone, in relation to a guy like (Brandon) Coleman or (Willie) Snead, what is the learning curve for understanding what they need to do in that area?
"I think that could be fairly quick. The throws are more contested, depending on what you are seeing defensively by scheme. Generally, there is a style of teams that teams want to play in the red area, the tight red inside the 15, and then it is understanding how we want to attack it when we are throwing the football, and then what we want to do in the running game."
Josh Hill wasn't targeted yesterday, could you make more use of him?
"One of the things that takes place after the first game is that there are a handful of players that we have to (use more).We have to make sure that balance between Josh and Ben (Watson) is a little bit better. I thought overall between (Mark) Ingram and Khiry (Robinson) was pretty good. There are a handful of positions where maybe the number was high with one player and low with another. That's something we have to look at. That is one example."
Is there anything about your next game being against a team that is coming off of a disappointing game that you are weary of?
"Our focus has to start internally. It has to start with us, and then when we get to the Wednesday and the scouting report (we get to) the types of offensive, defensive and special teams that they have. It really has to be within these walls and our team right now."
Do you find yourself having to be more patient, knowing that this is the biggest roster overhaul since you got here?
"It is the first week after a regular season game so you're in there right now and you are coaching. It is a good young class. I liked the look in their eye yesterday, it was good on game day. Every once and a while you don't get that but it was really good. It is not just the young guys, like I said, that (we) have to make this transformation from week one to week two. There is enough on tape where there is a handful of veteran players where it needs to quickly get better than it was yesterday."
The defense got its hands on a lot of passes that they didn't come down with; how important is it for them to finish those plays?
"We had a couple of opportunities. Brandon (Coleman's) was tough because it was so quick (off of the line). There are probably about six yards difference from where the quarterback was throwing it and where (he was). It just came up on him. Later, on the deeper throw, we just have to keep contesting those balls. It's some of the uncontested throws that make you pull your hair out a little bit more on third down. That would be just looking at it."
Jen Hale is working the sidelines for FOX this Sunday. I don't know if you pay attention to who does those things or not, but does her having worked locally in New Orleans for several years give her a little bit better insight to the Saints? How have you found her as an interviewer?
"She is real talented. Over the years, occasionally, you kind of track how those people have done and how they get elevated. Her being from here, we're proud of her. I don't think it is a surprise. Last year she was getting a ton of those sideline jobs. It started here, more locally, but I don't think that it is a surprise to anybody. She does a good job."
Do you have any thoughts on protection, it was the first game with a new center and a new guard?
"I thought that inside the pocket it was good. That was a point of emphasis. I thought on the edges, a couple of times in the second half (Drew Brees was hurried). We had a play right before halftime where he was hurried. It was Coleman's drop but it was thrown a little bit early. I thought that, for the most part, it was solid. We tried to make sure that we looked at the tempo of our throws and certainly there was a plan to how we wanted to attack their defense. On the road, that is one of those teams that can really, early on if you're not careful, swing that momentum. Part of it was really just being smart and understanding the field position (and) kind of eliminating the turnover. We had that one on third down that kind of careened off of Marques (Colston's) hands and up into the air. We felt that that was going to be an important number for us and it always is. With that defense, it was going to be critical. A few years back we played them and they weren't nearly as talented as a team, and we ended up coming out of there with a loss. Looking at that game, although it was a different team and certainly a different head coach, the mistakes made in that game were ones that we wanted to avoid."
I assumed that he wasn't on your radar, but as a former quarterback, did you watch tape of (Jameis) Winston last year when he was entering the draft?
"We would have covered him thoroughly. We were at his pro day. He is extremely talented and he has a real good arm. He's got kind of a moxy to him. You can see why they (Florida State) won a lot of games and why he's won a lot of games, both in high school and in college. I sat, literally, five yards behind him at his pro day and watched 90-to-100 throws. It was easy to see why he was going to be selected high, and the same with Marcus Mariota. He has won a lot of games. I haven't seen any of his tape from yesterday though."