Official team photos of the New Orleans Saints vs Detroit Lions game on Sunday, October 19, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Monday, October 20, 2014
Opening Statement:"Just real quick, going through the tape, it was a difficult loss especially the way most of that game was played. At the very end, we were not able to close and we went in and were not able to finish and do some of the things, do a lot of the things that are necessary to win. And yet I would say this, I just finished with the team (and) was the first game we played this year where I felt like it was remarkably different team from the last game, even in the victory against Tampa Bay to this game and how we looked. That is encouraging. And the reason is all we have talked about is that improvement from week to week. You guys hear me say it all the time we are in a race to improve and I felt like I saw more, and we saw more in that game than we have in the prior five with regards to improvement. Now we're not good enough right now to overcome some of the challenges that took place. I referenced the officiating and I am going to leave it at that but that is not the reason we lost this game yesterday. There were a handful of plays that took place and all of a sudden that momentum shifted and wern't not able to finish. When watching the tape I'm encouraged with a lot of the improvement that I saw. I thought it was by far our best game defensively. We had pressure on the quarterback, three sacks, two (forced) turnovers, we had a few too many penalties but two or three of them weren't penalties. Offensively I thought we did a good job with the tempo. We planned on going with some no huddle to tire them out a little bit. I thought that was effective at the end of the half. We got the points in the final drive we needed and then wanted to start the second half with it. We ended up with a big play, a scoring play. Kicking game, the kickoffs with the way they were, there were only a couple returned. Both punt teams did a pretty good job. There weren't a lot of return opportunities. We had one but I was encouraged in that area as well."
Is finishing something you pounded into the guys' heads this week?
"Yes, when you have someone, in our league, when you have them down and you are right at that point of, absolutely, because teams have firepower to make a play and follow it up with another and it can shift very quickly. So yes, but I think more importantly than anything the overriding topics is if we continue to make that same progress and improvement this team will be alright."
How do you balance looking at so much good stuff that happened for 56 minutes?
"I think it is important that they need to see that. Listen, it is difficult. I said this yesterday, it is frustrating and it is tough when you expend that energy coming off a bye with a good plan and then at the very end you still come away empty handed. That can be very difficult and very frustrating and yet I think it is important that they recognize here are some of the things that were different, this is what we saw differently, this is why we resembled a little bit more of the team we expected for the first time."
Do you maybe not have to focus on the end as much because they feel that so much?
"Yes, I think so. You come off a win and sometimes there's this feeling that you did a lot of things well and you know in your gut you won the game and yet if you continue to play like that you are not going to win but half of them. If we continue to play like we did yesterday and clean up a few of the things, this team is going to be fine."
You said a few weeks ago that you can't keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results, is this different?
"I saw a lot of good things on that tape. I saw a lot of good things on that tape despite some of the challenges that we had to overcome."
Do you think you guys have played with an edge for the first time all season?
"I thought we had that yesterday, but it's hard to point to a specific game. I felt like we had it yesterday. Certainly we struggled on the road at Cleveland. I thought we played some sporadic good football against Tampa Bay in the win and the same way against Minnesota. I felt like pregame, the week leading up to it, I would not come out and tell you guys hey, I will be shocked if we do not play lights out and win this game. But this would have been a week where I would have said that. I felt like the preparation leading up to it and the focus, that is the thing that was encouraging and I felt like it was different."
What can you do to fix giving up a big play on third and 10?
"That is your off the field play. Credit Matt (Stafford) and (Golden) Tate for making a big play. We kind of mistimed the jump. Your leverage is a little bit off, expanded a little bit more, but then we had a few opportunities to keep it from being a touchdown. That's repetition in other words that's repetition and landmarks specifically. But I felt like and said yesterday, that that began the momentum shift if you will (call it that). The crowd is back into it. There is hope at that point."
Is finishing something hard to coach?
"When you say finish, that might begin in the beginning of the fourth quarter. It's a little bit deeper than that. It's understanding that mentality of you have a chance here to win a game as opposed to protect the lead. You have a chance here to make it out of reach on the road. We were right in that point where we had a chance to do that and we weren't able to. Now does that mean you're a young team or a veteran team, look in this league, those leads can evaporate quickly and I think players and everyone understands that. All of us collectively, myself (included), when you have the football, there is that drive prior where we are not necessarily thinking field goal to go 13, we are thinking hey, a touchdown here is going to put us up 17. Now there is a potential finish drive if you will or at least a drive that is going to matter. A few things take place now where all of a sudden we are third and long and we throw a screen play and the running back gets tackled around the head and we kick the field goal to kick the field goal. There are a lot of moments to finish and it is just back in high school where everyone held up four fingers to emphasize you are in the fourth quarter and hopefully you are playing hard in every quarter. But I think it is just understanding where you might have an opponent in the game."
Do you think the message from the coaches is important this week?
* *"Yes, I think this is an important week because it's on film that they are watching now. They are going to see what I said. It is the first time that we did a lot of things differently and it is on film. That is encouraging."
Can you talk about how the defense played like a unit for the first time?
"I felt it was obviously one of our best efforts and it wasn't just because of the turnovers, it wasn't just because of the sacks and the pressure and yet you argue those are all kind of byproduct of numbers to the ball or tackling, all of those little things."
Is it really though they are finally developing chemistry?
"That is a good question. I don't know that that's the specific reason but I do know how it looked in practice and I do know how it looked yesterday for most of the game."
Can you make any kind of scheme changes that can help you late in games like this?
"Yes, there are things from week one to now (you) have modified and changed not just on defense, (but also in the) kicking game and offense there are some things that you look at and say alright, hey, does this best suit our guys right now the ones we have here and I think that is one of the most important aspects of what we do. As that preparation on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the results that follow on Sunday are really a byproduct of and constantly looking at hey, who is doing it and do they do that well? We have done that and I know offensively with a handful of things and the same way defensively, how do you want to play a long yardage coverage?"
Can you talk about Jonathan Goodwin and how he keeps coming back week after week?
* *"He's competitive, tough, and hard-working. He has all of those traits that you want in a football player and is the reason why he has played as long as he has."
Can you talk about the upcoming stretch of the schedule?
"Yes, here's the thing though, the most important thing is this week's game. You go crazy trying to look down the road and you really can't mentally. Today is the game we played and moving on. And honestly I struggle with past week or two and who we play. I know this, this weekend we play Green Bay Sunday night and I don't obviously we are going to be on a short week after that. That is the focus right now because we are playing a team that is coming in with four straight wins playing really good football."
Do you even look at the rest of the division at this point?
"Listen, the focus is more internal and more on our team. And I am sure guys are aware, guys are aware of who is playing well. There is so much coverage of it. It is really the focus on ourselves."
Do you think being less than two games out of first with 10 games left helps psychologically?
"That's a ton of football. Basically we're finished (with), I believe a third of the season, a little bit more than that. But the focus for us will be right on Green Bay."
Are you encouraged with some of the things that had been issues like the deep passing game and forcing turnovers?
"Those are all things that came up and became byproducts. They became what we are a little bit more accustomed to and I thought to all of those points, it is something that you have been working on and all of a sudden we get the two interceptions and we get the pressure on the quarterback. We have to fight like I said. There is some adversity that takes place with road trips and that outside adversity you are not preparing on, some of these penalties, you have to overcome them."
I know you don't want to get too specific on those pass interference calls.
"Man, I don't even want to start. It'll cost me money."
You usually don't say a whole bunch about that.
"And I am not going to."
Are you worried about hearing from the league about that kind of stuff?
"No because it is pretty clear. That is why I haven't gone into detail about any of it."
Was there anything in the scouting report about these refs?
"We do a research. We will do a whole study each week and report it on Friday. These guys were probably right at the middle of the pack, a veteran (officiating) crew, probably one of the more veteran experienced crews. They worked our playoff game last year in Seattle. We will do what's trending right now, their last year numbers, this year numbers, but none of which really applied to this game specifically with some of the calls."
How would you explain Drew Brees being two for thirteen in the final quarter?
"Obviously we had a little bit more pressure, some man-to-man (coverage). A few of those throw aways that were smart plays and yet we had a couple of opportunities in there maybe to fit in there a throw. Those percentages they include that last drive where all of a sudden you're hoping to make a few plays but for two thirds of the game we were operating with the rhythm and efficiency we wanted. We'll get better at that. We'll clean up some of those things."
Do you feel like he is pressing a little bit at this point?
"No, I don't. Listen, I just finished talking with him, obviously people want to have the one interception back but I felt like his decision-making and rhythm, I felt like his week of preparation and how he played all during the practice week was outstanding and he's going to be just fine. He's the least of our worries."
Stanley Jean-Baptiste sees his first action of the game and then has a tough moment right away. Is that hard for a young player?
"There is more than just Stanley on that play. Without getting into specifics, we felt like he's come along in the kicking game, he's come along in and we want to get him some work in the red zone, he's making progress and we've been encouraged with what he is doing."
Aaron Rodgers is someone that you have faced a few times, why has he been so effective in this four-game winning streak?
"Well he is extremely accurate. He can buy time with his feet, so he's a guy that can run. He has a great clock in his head. He's a veteran player that, obviously, is playing with a group (that has been very productive around him). I think Mike (McCarthy) has done a great job there. Their track record, history and the amount of success they've had has been very impressive. They're playing well. I haven't had a chance to see a lot of their defense yet, but I'm sure that all three phases are doing well. For them to win as decisively as they have, look they fought a hard game last week on the road and came up with a win, they're kind of on a roll."
Would you send video clips from the game to the league and request explanation?
"Typically you don't mess with it. It really doesn't matter. You have to get on to the next game. It's important that all of a sudden you don't spend half of your Monday consumed with what wasn't, or what was called that you later find out wasn't."
Is that something that maybe after the season you go back and look and address it because they did change the rules in the offseason?
"Some of these, they weren't all offseason rule changes."
It has to impact the players and how they play. You have to worry about it in some respect.
"You can't. You've got to play. And they have a tough job, make no mistake about it, I'm talking about the officials. In general it's not the calls they miss, it's the calls that they make, that they saw, that nothing really happened. Those are the ones that are a lot harder to swallow. Does that make sense? It's not the ones you miss, it's the ones that get explained to you on the game field that this is what they saw and then you watch the tape, those are more difficult. But that can't be our crutch, certainly not on a Monday."
Does it seem like in their effort to become more consistent have they actually become less consistent in their calls?
"No. It's hard to make comparisons. Like I said, they have a tough job, especially with the change each year in how things are going to be looked at. Listen, they are no different than me or the players, they have good games and they have bad games."
Looking back at the game, is there one play or one situation you'd like to have back?
"There are a handful. You start with the long touchdown pass that changes the momentum. But there is not just one, there are a handful."