New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton
Conference call with New Orleans media
Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021
What are some things you would say that stands out about Washington?
"A couple things. If you look at their defense you would say that it us a very good front. A group that can rush the passer. They are extremely athletic. Obviously, a lot has been invested in that group with first round picks. So you have to be on point with your protection plan. They have real good press, man- to-man type cover players. They had an injury last week at linebacker. Obviously, two weeks in a row, I'm watching the film and you can see this 41 (running back J.D. McKissic) make a play that ends up really being a game-winner. You look at the receiver strength with Terry McLaurin. I think it's a veteran group. Obviously, a young quarterback (Taylor Heinicke) that we're somewhat familiar with here. He was at Carolina. A really good kickoff/punt return team. They had one (kickoff return) last week for a touchdown, so we're going to have to do our job there relative to special teams. You see energy when you watch them play. I do not want to say (they're) a young group, since Ron (Rivera) has been there one year and the start of this season. They're building a program. You can see that on tape."
In general as a coach, do you start to get a feel for your team this early in the season four games in?
"I think you receive an early feel and yet, I've said this, there are so many things right now that we are in a hurry, a race, a sense of urgency to improve and we're in the midst of doing that. We're 2-2. We've handled the turnover/takeaway (ration) fairly well. There's numbers we have to be better at, third down and red zone numbers and solid. Overall, explosives are not where we them offensively. Defensively, last week all of a sudden there are a series of chunk plays passing. It's understanding how to win each game. I wouldn't say in Week Four, I am kind of seeing our team the way I see it (later). I see a lot of players coming back at some point and slowly being integrated back into the lineup. In the meantime, the guys that are currently playing, we're counting on to do well and play well."
What are the things that go into improving from this first quarter and that race? Are you constantly tinkering and adjusting as you go along?
"No, we're talking about the technique of breaking down and tackling, the bump-and-run technique, receivers working on getting off of releases. All the things that really when you have a short training camp with very limited pads there's just a lot of the fundamentals that I'm referencing."
It's not quite a quarter of the season with 17 games, but at this point, where would you assess where you team is now, even though you're never satisfied?
"You're going to hate my answer, but we're 2-2. It is what it is. So, this is an important game for us. It gives us an important change to get to 3-2. It's an NFC opponent. It's a road game. Obviously, we have an early bye. There are a number of things that I see that I'm pleased with that I like and there are a number of things that you're looking at and wanting to see improvement from."
Are some of the lack of explosives, is that the function of what you guys are doing or how these guys have played out?
"I would say a combination of both honestly. Generally speaking, some of it comes with run after the catch, intermediate throws and some of it based on who we're playing and the coverage we are receiving. We'll see how that trends. Obviously, it's something we were paying attention to and a point of emphasis."
Are there any areas that you would consider big concerns?
"No, as a coach, you're concerned each week. You're concerned about the opponent matchup, you're concerned about your depth. But all of which from an inward approach looking at our team, all things that we can fix and improve upon and so that's the journey. That's what we're working on right now."
When you talk about self-scouting, is that a constant process or does it change at as the season goes?
"No, each week when the film's broken down, this data gets entered in. It refreshes. It would be easy for me last night today say, when we are in gun trips, what are our numbers right now. 'You only have one run coach'. It's boom (for example). It's constantly refreshing if that makes sense."
Are you looking forward to seeing Ron Rivera and the challenges his team presents after you guys went at it for almost 10 years when he was in Carolina as head coach?
"I'm looking to seeing him, I'm not looking forward to the challenge his team presents (laughter). Yes, it's good to see him. I know what you meant. There are a number of guys on that staff that we know. Of course, a number of them were in Carolina with Ron. We have a lot of respect (for them). When you play a division opponent that you haven't seen in a while and definitely personnel you haven't seen, that's what makes the workweek challenging, yet competitive. Because you want to put together the best plan possible. His teams have always been very physical and he's doing a great job there just as he did at Carolina."
As far as the team has done getting pressure on the quarterback, what is your evaluation and how much do you figure sack figures into it?
"We're not giving out midterms or quarterly reports or anything like that. We're not doing that. You guys can. It's week-to-week and the challenge is this week. The challenge is this type of player at quarterback. How he eludes, timing of his throws and how you disrupt the passing game."
In terms of switching out Aldrick Rosas for Cody Parkey, what did you see from Parkey working out?
"He's been steady. His numbers have been good when you go back through it relative to his consistency and accuracy. Overall, it's kind of a result-oriented business where you're wanting to get to a certain percentage of made tries within a distance that you feel like you're comfortable to relative to leg strength. So he's a veteran player with relative poise. I think he's tough. He's mentally tough and we're looking forward to having him."
With Taylor Heinicke being relatively mobile, does it help having seen someone similar in Daniel Jones last week?
"Relative (to that), there will be some zone read stuff and quarterback built in stuff. I do think there's a…I don't want to use the word comparison…But certainly a guy very comfortable with eluding and making plays with his feet. I would say there are some similarities that way."
What was the explanation on the illegal formation call Sunday you were assessed?
"They felt Alvin (Kamara) was too close to the line of scrimmage. Alvin was off the ball, but they said they felt he covered up the tight end."