<span>New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"There was nothing really on the injury front of note at all, which is good news. Jonathan Goodwin made it through the game pretty well and the rest of the guys seemed to come out ok today. Like I said yesterday, the defensive stops we had in the second half and the turnovers that we created ended up really being the difference in the game. It was kind of going back and forth and then once we got to that 10- and then 17-point lead, they became a little bit more one-dimensional and that difference in the score obviously then played to our advantage. I thought we did a good job at halftime of making some corrections. Our third down defense got better in the second half compared to the first. It was a good win to get and now we're working on a short week on another important game."
What went into the decision to hold Reggie Bush out of the game since he practiced more last week?
"Yes he did and hopefully he practices more this week and we have him this week. It still became an issue where it was still substantial enough where it was going to prohibit him from playing, maybe not 100% but from playing where it was comfortable and that's where it ended up."
Did you notice a different level of intensity from your team last night?
"I thought our effort was good. I thought the execution was one of the key things that was different. We ended up making some plays in some critical situations – Lance Moore's first touchdown that tied the game at 7 was a blitz look; Drew did a good job of recognizing it and getting the ball quickly to Lance and he made a guy miss and outran the defense. You don't know when those specifics are going to come up but I thought by and large we handled that pretty well. It was a good win to get."
What do you have to do going forward to continue the momentum?
"I think the most important thing is working as hard as we can as coaches and as players to improve with tomorrow's practice; that we try in certain areas to get better as a team and the same way on Thursday and Friday before we play our next game. I think if you're not doing that you're more likely to take a step backwards. It's just working and being as critical of ourselves after a win as we would be after a loss."
Are you confident at this point that no suspensions are going to come down this week?
"Again – and I've said this before – I'm really like the rest of you guys in that we just continue to prepare. It's a league matter that we can't comment on so we'll wait and see."
How would you go about working Reggie back into the offense now?
"There are certainly things that are easy with that transition and there are other things that are a little bit trickier. What's more challenging is working that player back in the first week or so when you don't know if at the end of that week you're going to have that player. It's different than if you know that two weeks in or three weeks in that he's up. The challenge always is as we gameplan today, looking at the game for Sunday both in the event that he's available or that he's not available. That's a little bit more challenging that first week. Outside of that, it's just having enough where if he is available that the plays are certain plays that suit him in part of the plan. Once you get a player back from an injury who's healthy, it becomes easier on Wednesday or Tuesday to gameplan knowing you have the player. It's a little bit more challenging when it's still a little bit up in the air."
You've used Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush as a potent combination in the past. Can you do the same with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas?
"I think so. I think you can. I think Pierre is probably a little closer to Deuce than people think in regards to his running style. You can have those type of packages – a lot of times people will treat that with a nickel defense and treat Reggie as a receiver then, which we've seen before and we've seen from Tampa before."
Was this your best performance of the season?
"I thought it was a complete game. We played pretty well against Oakland. The score obviously all of a sudden jumped out there higher than normal – it's hard to score 50 points. That was a product of turnovers and guys making some plays, but I think we're still searching for our most complete game. It was an important win for us against a good opponent. We have a lot of respect for what Green Bay does and how they play – especially on defense and offensively they have a lot of weapons. Early in the game was you all watched the scores exchanged back and forth and it became evident that it was going to take more than 21 points to win the game. It was one of if it wasn't the best game of the season. There is a lot of stuff that we have to correct and a lot of things that we can clean up."
Did you go after their safeties inside?
"I think, by nature, some of the things they do defensively make it tough for just the outside two receivers but maybe give you a little bit of opportunity inside to the tight end or running back or slot receiver. We tried to get into some bunch sets, some bunch formations to help our receivers with patterns because they do a good job of re-routing and jamming at the line of scrimmage – probably as good as anyone. One of the things that we wanted to try to accomplish was to work the inside portion of the field between the numbers, weather it was against a nickel defense or a base defense, but we knew there would be some opportunities for the running backs. Pierre Thomas caught a simple checkdown on a play early and you saw Billy Miller and Jeremy Shockey come up with some big catches. We felt like some of the things that they force you to do is work to those guys and Drew did a good job of that."
What do you mean by saying you're still searching for your most complete game?
"I think you would want to be better on third down in the first half. We had some minus runs early in the game and we came back and were able to run the ball a little bit more effectively as it went on. We had the one turnover which looking back on it in hindsight on my part, we got a zone coverage and it really wasn't a good call. But there are a number of things. I thought the return teams – especially in the kickoff aspect of it – ended up playing a big role in the field position last night and our coverage units did a good job, so I think from a field position standpoint we won the battle there on special teams and that proved to be pretty important."
Did you feel like in the third quarter that the defense was feeding off the offense?
"We started the second half with the football and that drive was important. There were some critical conversions there that allowed us to keep the ball and that score put us ahead 10. I thought the field goal at the end of the half after the good kick return was important just to come away with points and go up three. There were a number of turning points, but the first interception by Jason David was very important."
Were there any defensive adjustments made at halftime?
"It was really just paying close attention to the third downs. They were eight-of-ten at halftime converting third downs and one of the things we talked about at halftime was trying to get off the field. Part of that statistic came from being in manageable third downs. Some of those third downs were two-to-three or four-to six; in the second half, there were more third-and-medium-to-long opportunities than there were in the first half. That was encouraging."
Did any of the offensive linemen stand out to you in the film room today?
"I thought Jahri (Evans) played well. We blocked for the passer pretty well and I thought as a group they did a good job of handling a pretty good front. I thought Jon (Stinchcomb) did a good job with his matchup on a real good defensive end in (Aaron) Kampman. You're not going to win every battle but I thought that group was instrumental in the success we had on offense."
Was it Stinchcomb vs. Kampman the last time you played them and Kampman had a big day?
"Yeah, because he's been at their left end for a long time. Sometimes it's the tight end that ends up on him depending on your play and sometimes it the tackle. Having coached him over at the Pro Bowl, you really gain a lot of a respect for some players, and he's one of those guys that you come away from a week of working with and appreciate his effort and energy and his ability as a player. He's a tremendous pass-rusher and a high-effort guy and we certainly have a lot of respect for him as a player."
Did Carl Nicks get injured late in the game?
"He had a little cramp. He was alright though."
Does Drew Brees continue to amaze you or is it kind of ho-hum by now?
"It's never ho-hum. It's a product of a lot of work and preparation and focus. He did a great job in managing the game last night. His ball location and decision-making was outstanding. Where he went with it each time was right on. I think he had a pretty good feel for what he was seeing and when we're able to block for him like we did, he usually can find the right guy. He's real good about his progressions and where the ball goes – it might be to the running back or it might be to Colston. I think those guys on offense understand the importance of painting a clean picture for him and getting to where they need to be within the scheme and knowing that he'll find the right player and he did a good job of that last night."
Has Randall Gay played well in the past few weeks?
"He's had his hands on a lot of balls. He had a third down deflection that was a real important play last night. He came close to an interception but he has contested a lot of throws. He stayed on top of a few deep throws. He has good instincts and really good awareness, which is a really good trait to have, especially if you're looking at a player that comes inside in the nickel like he does. We were encouraged with his play."
Will you need to have 10 wins to make the playoffs?
"It's always hard to project that."
You haven't thought about it all?
"Yeah, but is it 10, is it 11, is it 9? We don't know, so I don't know how else to approach it other than with each week there's one less game to play and I think again the focus has to be just on this game. If I knew the results of the other games, then I'd be able to answer that question. But I don't know what's going to happen with the rest of the division. Obviously we're in a stronger division right now with the way that Carolina and the way that Tampa and the way that Atlanta are playing. That's just the nature of our league. We're 6-5 and we're still in fourth place in our division. In other divisions we might be tied for first, but we're not in other divisions, we're in the NFC South. I think the next two or three weeks have always in our league cleared things up and narrowed the field, and I think that will be the case again this year. The next two to three weeks will clear things up for all of us and you'll begin to get an idea of who's contending and who is not. But right now as you look at the number of teams in the NFC, there are a lot of them competing for spots and we understand that the margin for error becomes smaller."
Are you concerned that a lot of those teams have the tie-break on you?
"Again, we have a lot of teams coming in here still. We have to play Atlanta again, we play Carolina again, Tampa Bay this weekend is an important game. The focus really – and I think our players would say the same – is really how do we get the next one. With five left, that's still a lot of football. There's still a long way for us to go right now before we begin to look at the numbers and trying to add up what we think it is. With five weeks left there's really a lot of football ahead and that's the approach that we've taken. As you watch other games, you're mindful of how the rest of the NFC is doing and how the other teams are doing. This is the time of the year where you begin to pay attention to that, but most importantly is how we're doing. That's where the focus and the energy has to be."
How important is the fact that you play Tampa and Atlanta over the next two weeks?
"Those are important games. They're all important here with five weeks left. I said to our team last week that if we play well enough and we win this game, then next week's game will be more important, and I think that will be the case each week now."