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Saints Head Coach Sean Payton Sept 14

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    <span style=""><span style="">New Orleans Saints Head Coach </span>Sean Payton  

Opening Statement:

"I was pleased to get a win to start the season. There are a number of positive things on the video, and yet it's week one and there are a lot of things that we have to get cleaned up that we just finished talking about as a team. They'll be watching the tape now and there were a lot of mistakes that in a closer game can get you beat; I think that goes without saying. You can see it – it comes up on offense, it comes up on defense, and certainly it came up in the kicking game. The main thing for us now is spending most of today with these guys, getting a look at the video and making the corrections and going back to work Wednesday to get better and to improve from week one to week two to reduce the turnovers and to do a better job covering kicks, blocking for our returners – all the things that especially in close games need to be better."

How much did the time that Reggie Bush missed in the preseason contribute to his struggles yesterday?

"I'm sure that was part of it. By and large, most players need to get work and to get reps to get ready and it's harder to do that if you have been somewhat limited with the amount of snaps you've had. He's healthy now and we just have to keep practicing him, but I'm sure that's part of it. I know that he wouldn't want to use that as an excuse, but the key is his health and being able to watch the tape here and work on the techniques that we're coaching and make the corrections. He has a high standard for himself as well so I think he'll respond the right way."

What is your comfort level with Reggie's ball security right now?

"He has been a guy who as a returner has been fairly reliable, but there are times where you'll see a late ball out – yesterday there was one that was reviewed in our favor, but it's something that we've tried to teach. Just as we have made that emphasis on defense – talking about the takeaways – that same emphasis and that same attention to detail has to be made in protecting the football and that's something we have to look closely at and understand where we want the ball – high and tight. That's something that we'll still have to work on."

Was it your plan to feature Mike Bell at running back yesterday?

"The plan was Mike and Reggie and when you look at the snaps they had, if you're just looking at the total snaps, Reggie had 37 and Mike had 36. There were snaps where they were both on the field, but to answer your question, that was our plan going in."

If Pierre Thomas is healthy enough to play do you have to make a choice between him and Mike Bell?

"We'll see. Fortunately we don't have to make any of those decisions today. We feel that Pierre brings a certain element to our running game and yet Mike Bell has done a good job. In the spring, it's hard to evaluate the runners because we're not in pads but he is running with confidence and there's a lot of confidence in that huddle when he's in the game. It's a good problem to have; we have some depth and each week we'll evaluate what the plan is."

Do you have no problem making room for three guys at running back or would you rather go with two?

"They're competing for touches in a course of a game. There were snaps yesterday where Mike was tired and Reggie came in and there were snaps when both of them were tired. We'll find those snaps and we talk about this all the time internally that they're all competing for touches – the receivers, the tight ends, the running backs – there are only so many to go around. But he would factor in."

Did you like what Robert Meachem brought to the kickoff return unit?

"He did some good things. He had the one return where he fell, but for his first time out I thought he did some decent things as a returner. We'll see each week where we go with the actives and who's up and who's not."

Would who that returner is depend on Pierre Thomas' health?

"There would be a lot of things that would go into that."

Are the problems you saw on special teams easy fixes?

"They're fixes. After the big kickoff return we gave up and Malcolm (Jenkins) made a great play to come back and make the tackle and defensively we held them to a field goal, it took that to where all of a sudden the next time we covered two kicks really well. There isn't one guy to where you sit here and say 'Hey' – it's a series of playing the down hard and playing the correct technique and trusting the technique that we're coaching. Even some of our core guys on special teams – and I said in the team meeting that if you're making this roster and coming to the games a special teams core player, then you need to excel in that area. There were some things that we just didn't do consistently and when that happens and there are some integrity lapses, that ends up hurting you and it did yesterday."

It appears possible that Donovan McNabb won't play this weekend? How different are the Eagles without McNabb at quarterback?

"It goes without saying that any team that loses its starting quarterback is different. I've seen McNabb for years now, having been in New York and Dallas and here we've played Philly three times with all three games in New Orleans. He's extremely important to what they do, he's a good leader, and we have a ton of respect for him. It's something that we really can't control. By Wednesday or Thursday we begin our practice for the Eagles and probably on Wednesday at this time won't know any more. It's something that we can't control, but if a team loses its starting quarterback, it's pretty significant. He's one of the top quarterbacks in the league I think and has been for the last six or seven years and when you look at their record over the last seven to ten years since he has been the starter, it's probably first or second in the NFC."

Do you really have to game plan for the idea that he will be playing?

"You begin your preparation for the offense. There are certain things you do offensively and it may change to some degree with another quarterback, but I think you plan for the offense and go from there."

Of the things you feel you need to clean up, are there some that are more pressing than others?

"We hit on the special teams and the turnovers. We had a ball out on a punt, we had a ball out on a running play with a lead and we're trying to put someone away, we had a blocked field goal; those things in a 17-14 game will cause the game to slip away and that's significant. It's easier to come off of a win and coach those things hard and that's what we have to do this week. We have to improve – coaches as well as players – and look at our message; are we saying the right things? Are we coaching the best way possible? That's what we'll look hard at this week."

What are your impressions of the way Thomas Morstead kicked off?

"I thought he kicked off well, considering it was his first start and first time kicking off. When you look at it, he had a handful into the end zone – one off of a penalty was of course a touchback. But even when they weren't touchbacks, if you look at where the ball was landing, I thought he did a good job in his first game. It helps when you have that flexibility when your punter can kick off and you still have the ability to put John (Carney) in for the field goals. He has done well."

How do you feel Marques Colston played?

"He had a big play early for a touchdown. There were a few snaps where he had a drop and I think that if you asked him, he'd probably say that it wasn't as good as he had hoped. All four of those receivers are getting lots of snaps; when you start looking at he and Devery (Henderson) and Robert (Meachem) and Lance (Moore). I thought Devery played well; he stood out, aside from the big touchdown. If you watch the tape closely, I thought he blocked well on the perimeter for the running game. He keeps emerging as a guy that is doing real well. We'll continue to see Marques play better than yesterday, and yet our first touchdown was a big pass to him."

Do you think the offseason work by Jeremy Shockey showed up yesterday?

"He's healthy. It was good to see him get off to a good start. At that position, there's so much of a timing issue that exists with the quarterback because a lot of times the throws to the tight end are in tight quarters so just a subtle movement to the right or the left is pretty significant. Those guys have worked hard on that timing."

What was your overall feeling on the play of the defense Sunday?

"I thought they played well. There are some things – there was a missed fit on one of our pressures. There were some things that they got challenged with early with some short fields and situations when you look at a kickoff return inside the ten and then another turnover. There were a number of times when they took the field not where we'd like them to be taking the field and I thought they handled it well. I thought we kept Calvin Johnson from impacting the game and I thought that was important; he's a tremendous player. There were some things to coach off of that were positive. We got turnovers, which was encouraging – (Darren) Sharper had the two interceptions and (Scott) Shanle had the interception; that was encouraging. I thought they handled the quick change pretty well."

Do you feel like Drew Brees is the best relatively unknown quarterback, given that he doesn't date supermodels and might not be as familiar to the casual fans nationally?

"I think Brittany (Brees) could be a supermodel but they just had a child. Each guy is different – he has the respect of the locker room and he's very driven. The personalities and how a guy chooses to handle that role or that position can vary. All of us really, at the end of our careers, regardless of what we do, want respect from our peers. And the thing that drives Drew Brees is winning. Much has been written about it, but when the careers of great quarterbacks end, oftentimes they are really measured by the success that their teams had while they played and I think that's what is most important to him. He handles all those things very well."

Have you gotten any news on the possible Will Smith/Charles Grant suspensions?

"Nothing new. We're approaching this week much like we did last week. We're full speed ahead. With today being Monday, we'll begin the game plan preparations for Philadelphia, tomorrow is the players' day off where we spend almost all of tomorrow on the base gameplan and that has been our approach and has to be our approach right now."

Are you pushing the league for a decision today so you're not waiting any longer than you have to?

"We're not in a position to push. We just wait. It's something that is entirely in their hands. With that being said, we just have to plan with what we know we have right now and then react if something different happens. That's going to be our approach for this week as well."

Would you like the NFL to make a final decision so that you're not going through this every week?

"Like I said, I can't really comment about it. There are a lot of things I'd like… But really it's just something that as a club we have to defer to the league and I understand why we have to and why we should and that's what we have done. We'll move forward and just try to stay as on top of it as we can and communicate to you guys as we get any new information pertinent to that."

Do you have an update on injuries for Jermon Bushrod and Tracy Porter?

"There's nothing new with those two. Like I mentioned after the game, the good news was that they were contusions or bruises. Fortunately for us it wasn't anything more serious than that."

What more did Mike Bell do than simply run through people?

"To be a runner, you have to be able to read what is being blocked and he does a good job of that. He's pretty instinctive and he runs with an upright style so you see some collisions when he runs. But he is a guy that can put his foot in the ground and get north and south and cut back. He made a run in Houston – I know it was a preseason game – but when you look at that run a few times, it was pretty impressive. He has worked hard. To credit Mike Bell, he has come a long way from Denver, to Houston where he had an injury, and then patience last year when he was with us. He's had a tremendous offseason and I couldn't be happier for someone because he has worked hard at it."

Jeremy Shockey looked like he was limping a little after the game. Is he alright?

"As far as I know; nothing new. He battles that soreness in the one ankle. I kept him out of Friday's practice for the same reason, but I think he's doing fine."

Do you know much about Philadelphia's backup quarterback, Kevin Kolb?

"Just a little; not a lot."

Is he similar to McNabb?

"It would be hard to compare someone to a guy like Donovan McNabb. You have years on tape of the offense and there are a lot of weapons there; a lot of talented players. Andy (Reid) and his staff and Marty (Mornhinweg) and those guys do a great job. It would be hard to draw a comparison from Donovan to Kevin. I think the biggest thing is paying close attention early in the week to the system and being on top of the personnel. They have a handful of people that have great speed; they have always moved the ball and been very good offensively. They have been a real good screen team. In our games here in '06 and '07, those games were well-fought. This is a big challenge for us."

Do you sense that this game will be a more of an early-season gauge for where your team is?

"Certainly the team we're playing is I think one of the better teams in the NFC. There are a ton of things that we did yesterday that we won't be able to get away with in a game like this. Our players will know that and they have to understand that and we have to play better. It will be our first opportunity for this team to go on the road and play in a tough environment. That's a tough stadium to play in; it's loud. We're looking forward to it; we're looking forward to the challenge."

How much can Mike Bell challenge Reggie Bush for playing time when Pierre Thomas comes back?

"Each week a lot of it will depend on who we're playing. The plan in regards to what we want to do with Reggie, that vision is pretty clear. It's something that you guys have seen a lot of already. I think the better question would be how Pierre and Mike Bell – and I'm not drawing similarities between those two – but how do you work that rotation out? That's something that we're going to have to look at. A lot of it will be dependent on if Pierre is 100 percent. We think this is a week where he's going to be able to come back. We'll have to be smart with our personnel and our packages. We've been able to do that at receiver as well.

"I'm always looking at snaps and I'll give you an example here – Marques Colston, 45 snaps; Devery Henderson, 43; Lance Moore 23; Robert Meachem, 29. Am I getting Robert Meachem enough snaps? That balance with those four players – all of them with different skill-sets – those are the things that are challenging for us and those are the things that we spend a lot of time on during the week, of trying to have enough personnel variety and feature some of the things that they do well. That same thing would apply to Pierre, Mike and Reggie. And yet you still don't want to affect how a guy like Mike Bell runs – he's a guy that gets stronger as the game goes on. We'll see."

Did you make a conscious effort to come out with a fast start yesterday?

"We're always hoping for a fast start. The first play that we were going to call to start the game we changed because we were on the other hash mark, so we came out with the three-step drop and hit Devery on that play. We talk about starting and coming ready and being ready. It was the first time that we played at that time. We played in Oakland at 1:00, but that was 3:00 our time here, so this was the first time this team has gotten up and eaten pre-game meal at 8:00 and then at 12 noon kicked the ball off. One of the reasons we set our practice schedule the way we do is that it's similar; in other words, figuring most of our games are going to be at 12 noon or 1:00, we're practicing at that time. I think it's important that their body clocks get in tune to that and I was pleased with how we started."

Are you glad to have that game against Detroit behind you?

"There's always that respect in our game. There are good players – Calvin Johnson and some of these guys can take over and win a game and you might play a real good game. The returner could take two back and maybe there's a fumble like Mike Bell had or Reggie Bush had on a punt and Calvin Johnson makes two plays above his head and all of a sudden you're saying, 'What just happened?' That can happen in our league more than in any other league, I think.

"You're anxious for the start of the season, all those things that come with getting ready to play a game and yet those are the things that we'll miss most when we're finished coaching or playing, those same feelings and emotions, because they go away. I was anxious that we started with the win. I thought we had a pretty good preseason. You get that 24 hours and then you really have to spit it out and get ready for the next week and we're kind of right there doing that right now."

Is there any hope that the NFL might stagger the suspensions?

"I really don't know. In other words, I know as much as you do in regards to that. I've seen that written, but I have no idea. Again, that's their call."

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