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Saints transcripts: Sean Payton conference call | 2021 NFL Week 4

Saints head coach Sean Payton looks back on the Week 4 loss to the Giants.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Conference Call With New Orleans Media

Monday, October 4, 2021

You said after the game that you told your team you wanted them to take something away from this. What is your view after looking at the film?
"There were a number of things. Number one in our league, there's really just two scores. A couple of things that we didn't really want to happen in that game that were keys was to eliminate the explosives. Defensively we weren't able to do that. They had a number of big plays, particularly in the passing game. It became harder to get pressure when it became more one-dimensional just relative to the timing of the ball coming out or some of the max protections. They were either spreading us out and throwing it real quick, or condensing some formations with more of a shot play. Offensively, there's a couple sequences where we have a chance to…I don't want to say close out…But to shift the field position in our favor, take more time off the clock. We gave up a big return in the kicking game. There are a number of things, when you get into position to close out a game or put some distance between you and your opponent, we just weren't good enough to do it. Collectively when you watch the tape today, it's a frustrating loss and nonetheless, it's a loss and that's really the point I was making yesterday. (My intention is to emphasize) the game's over, but we need to learn from it."

Did the Giants do some things offensively this season that was out of character for the Giants?
"I don't know necessarily out of character. Even if you look at last season, the game's that they played well in and had success in, there was one formula offensively, they had a high amount of explosives. Then they had games where they weren't able to do that, they weren't as successful. That sounds simple, but they weren't an offense that was eight, nine, ten, eleven plays. They were an offense that relied on some chunk plays and then to capitalize on that and they got that yesterday."

In the explosive play by Saquon Barkley, was it a matter of anything specific or of the defense not seeing him?
"Clearly they motioned to an empty look…Just staying on top of your coverage. It was a play where they run the receiver into the flat on an out cut. A lot of times when a running back finishes an empty formation out wide, he's out there really more to extend the defense, not extend the threat. Obviously Saquon catches the ball and can run and he got behind us, that's what really happens on that play."

On the second offensive possession, going for it at fourth and three, does the lack of confidence in your kicker play a role in deciding to try to convert a first down? 
"There are a number of things. I felt really good with a play that we had. I felt really comfortable with the coverage look we were going to get. When you run a running play like that which is a little crack sweep, it's a lot more effective when teams are in man than in zone, so it's not a first and second down call, it's more a third and short of a fourth and short call. We didn't execute well enough and it means we probably didn't get it practiced well enough during the week. But we got the perfect look that we were looking for. It's a look where we wanted to crack down with the X receiver on the end and pull the tackle around. We just didn't get the edge secured like we would have wanted to."

Did the Giants do anything to take Alvin Kamara away some in the passing game yesterday defensively?
"When you look at this structurally, a couple of things. Everyone's going to try to disrupt him out of the backfield, but when Tony (Jones) gets hurt, the role changes a little bit. His touches obviously hit a number in the running game. But a lot of times in the passing game, when your second back is healthy, he's playing in three or four different receiver spots. That kind of shifted a little bit with Tony's injury. There were a handful of plays that were his plays technically by route and yet, certain coverage routes take you through a progression, but a lot of that, he received a lot of touches in the running game, but obviously not in the passing game. There were a handful of reasons for that. The biggest obviously was the injury early in the game to Tony."

Did you think some of the issues this past game were technique related?
"Overall watching the film, there were a handful of things that the theme today would have was, man, just trust your technique. Trust me this isn't just defensively, offensively the same way. Trust your technique and assignment relative to the job. There are a lot of little things, which look it comes back to how much we are doing and let's work on those details. Because I go back to that fourth down and it's a great opportunity with the right look and we just weren't detail oriented enough to execute it and that's something I told them today in the team meeting, it's what you look closely at as a coach. Hey, how are we working on that the actual techniques of it and I think that would apply on both sides of the ball and the same in the kicking game."

Do you feel more comfortable with Alvin Kamara getting more touches or was that just a byproduct of the situation you were in?
"Well look, alright, so it's 26 touches and maybe the week before it's a little less carry wise, but a few more in receptions. Is he having a chance to impact the game and I thought he ran extremely well yesterday. I thought we ran the ball against a pretty good run defense pretty well. So look I think during the course of the game that changes when there's an injury to your number two running back. But overall, his touches and keeping track of that, and then how we're using him, I think even when you ask him, there's a lot on his plate, because he's lining up in a lot of different spots. Some of that gets reduced if there's an injury to your second runner, but no, overall, I think that he has to be one of the main focal points of what we do and yet we have to be smart, because of the length of the season."

Do you feel like there has been an acclimation period going from coaching Drew Brees for a decade to now coaching Jameis Winston?
 "I think it is a little bit more on the game at hand, the game you're actually playing. Yeah, sure, there's a transition anytime you have a player for x number of (years), especially a quarterback. So look, each game sets up differently and how you want to play it can be completely different week to week. But I think there's a goal going into the game relative to what we feel like we need to do to win. And I think that can be different week to week. I don't think it's, oh, I need to get used to calling plays now (with Jameis Winston), we've had this, in five weeks with Teddy (Bridgewater), we've had it with Taysom (Hill), we've had it way back with Luke McCown. I think it's a matter of what you're wanting to do to win that game."

Jameis Winston completed 12 passes in a row, was that significant and something encouraging going forward?
"Every one of us Jameis included (was encouraged). I was encouraged. I thought he played well and I think the number one thing when you're able to, we knew we were playing a zone pressure team with a lot of safety off the slot pressure and I thought we had a good plan blocking some of those looks and then felt there was some good cavities relative to the passing game. We had the long touchdown called back for a holding (call). It's a tough matchup really, for Traut (Adam Trautman). But yeah, I think I was encouraged with how he played. I was encouraged with his decisions and I thought, shoot, that's going to help us going forward."

Why was Leonard Williams a tough matchup for Adam Trautman?
"Well look, one of their better players is 99 (Leonard Williams). One of the things they do a good job with is moving him around, he's at left end, right end, is there a way we could've shifted Traut, maybe left than him on the backside of that protection. We knew kind of what we were trying to get with the play action. We were able to get that, but we know going in it's a long block and so when you go back through it, how do you put, if it's possible, how do you put your tougher end away from the single block, those are the things you wrestle with. But I thought, shoot, Kenny (Stills) did a great job, Jameis (Winston) getting the ball out there? It's been a defense that has been difficult to hit chunk plays against, they're one of the better teams and yet we were able to get a few."

What are your thoughts on Adam Trautman's production in the receiving game?
"A lot of that is, I think as much as anything based on the opponent, depending on what you are receiving from a coverage standpoint. I think a lot of it is being driven by defense and some of its being driven by the roles we're giving him each week and that can vary."

I know we focus so much on the quarterback position, but I mean, how much of the offense here is adjusting to so many new pass catchers as well, I mean is that a big adjustment, changing out, especially because of the injuries at wide receiver?
"I like this group. I think they're doing a good job. I thought we blocked the perimeter well in the run game. I think Ty (Montgomery II) made some big plays for us. Obviously, Juwan (Johnson) comes up with a few big plays, a touchdown. Each week there's a role that these guys play and have and that can vary but yeah. I think it still gets back to the things I mentioned at the beginning, the attention to detail, the little things. Marquez (Callaway) has a big play down the field on one of those deep play actions. It is just marrying that passing game up with the run game, but we did a good job of staying out of, for the most part, the third and long situations. Even in some cases where the runs were only two, maybe three yard gains.If you just said going in this is where you're going to be turnover wise, this is where you're going to be on third down, this is where you're going to be in the red area in yards gained rushing, there were a lot of things that that we did well, but ultimately we weren't able to win the game."

Kenny Stills, you've elevated him now twice from the practice squad. What's the vision for him moving forward?
"Yeah, look, he's an experienced receiver we're familiar with. He's sudden, I think he has good speed and good hips. I'm glad he's here. I think he's helped us and certainly his role week by week we feel like can help us."

That big play that Jameis Winston had to Marquez Callaway in the third quarter, was that the same one as in week one where he decided to throw it away instead of trying to throw it downfield?
"No, just a little different. Off a little bit different play action. Yeah, no it wasn't. It was a shot play, alright, but outside of that a much different design."

When you look back at the game tape, did you feel that you got enough pressure or bother Daniel Jones enough?
"Well, part of the problem, and when you get someone in a situation where it's coming out of his hands so quickly, now you're going to have to rely on some coverage, some tipped balls. In other words, he's experienced enough to where when he got in some of these spreads sets, if you looked at the timing of how quickly he was throwing it, it was coming out. There were a lot of quick throws, a lot of horizontal stretch plays, slants, seems, balls that were being thrown fairly quickly, obviously, do we want to get more pressure, yes. And then the big play earlier was more of a max protect, seven and a half man protection with kind of a two receiver route. So I think that, look, and credit New York for understanding one of the matchup concerns they had certainly would have been just handling our pass rush versus their offensive line and then doing a good enough job to get the ball out. So sometimes it becomes a little bit more challenging."

You mentioned yesterday, in hindsight, you would have rather punted than made that field goal attempt. I was wondering about the play where Taysom (Hill) came in and threw an interception. How do you view that one in hindsight, do you second guess yourself at all on plays like that?
"Yeah, all the time. I mean, relative to plays, all the time. I mean, it's a turnover and yet I liked our aggressive approach to stressing that defense. The only plus about that is it ended up obviously being a play that pinned them back down. I mean, it wasn't one that put us in harm's way relative to field position, but when you're taking those shots, sometimes you're going to have some success, other times, not so much. I didn't like the location of where we threw it, and I think he struggled a little bit with his technique and his footing. But I think you have to trust your gut relative to calling plays. I think the first big play we completed was the start of the second half. We felt like we gave them a run look, or at least a look that we run the ball a bunch from and that was Jameis' (Winston's) completion to Marquez (Callaway). The play that we through the interception was a similar play that we had last from, shoot you go all the way back to Minnesota when we played them at home and Taysom hit that same pass versus a similar coverage look."

Do you want to be a run first team or is that a necessity at all, or is it opponent based? What's gone into that each week?
"Week by week, we have always put a high value on the ability to run the football. That has not changed. And then there are some weeks where obviously it's more of a…it's always a focus. It's critical for us. And when we've had success, whether it's any year you pick, with Drew (Brees), and certainly now. We feel we have a real good offensive line. We feel like we have good running backs. So it adds to our play action (game). It kind of begins, starts there."

Do you plan to bring in any kickers for tryouts this week?
"There's nothing right now and we'll keep you guys posted if there is, but right now we're on the second half of the day now looking at a lot of Washington."

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