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Saints Transcripts: Sean Payton, Tonah Kpassagnon, and Chris Hogan Week 1 recaps 9/13/21

Saints head coach & players discuss the Week 1 victory versus the Green Bay Packers

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Conference call with local media | Monday, Sept. 13, 2021

I don't think we saw Cesar Ruiz get a lot of snaps at training camp with him concentrating at right guard? Was that part of the plan or would Will Clapp if he wasn't on Injured Reserve be moved to center?

"I'm going to say that first off, he's worked center snaps every day and played that position, (but) had Will been healthy, we probably would have went that direction first. He did a really good job in this game with the injury we had with Erik."

Was it important for the defense to finish the way they did when they forced that last turnover and kept Green Bay out of the end zone for the game?

"We're all competitors. You're trying to defend every blade of grass when you're on the field. There were a lot of newer players or other players in the game at that time, not only for us but Green Bay, but the team is wanting to finish on a high note. That's good to see."

For the interception by Marcus Williams did the coverage dictate him to make a break like he did?

"I think there's a little bit of coverage and a little bit of instincts. He really covered some ground. When it was first thrown my eyes took me right to where the ball was being thrown. He did a great job of taking it down and extending, but yes, part of that is coverage and his instincts within the design of the coverage."

How did you think Calvin Throckmorton did when you go back and look at it in his first NFL action?

"Good. I think well. Certainly there are some things you want to clean up. Overall I thought we played well as a front. I thought we protected well. Each week the line of scrimmage is so important. I thought those guys up front did a really good job."

On the fourth-and-seven, was your process of deciding to go for it, a situation of where you had confidence in a call or a play in your back pocket?

"Yes, it sure does. I think it's a real good question. Two things came to mind. The location relative to a punt. The field location relative to kicking a field goal was longer than I wanted. We were on the right hash for that call. It was a call we had looked at during the week and felt good about, obviously more designed for a zone defense than a man. We received the look we were looking for. There are times you don't have that same confidence for a call and maybe we try to punt it in tight. Attempting the field goal I didn't want to do there…I felt we had the leg for that, yet the trajectory of the kick and I imagine the percentages would have been similar to conversion or made field goal, but I do feel like it was made easier because of the hash mark and the time that we had."

Jameis Winston seemed giddy after the game about getting the play call from you and how he's been waiting for that. We've been used to you and Drew Brees working together for 15 years. How much does a game like yesterday work toward the two of you communicating well?

"I think there's a lot of nuances and differences. We had a short half really a year ago with Drew's injury. Gone through this periodically with when Drew's been hurt with Teddy (Bridgewater) or Taysom (Hill). So, the whole game with Jameis relative to little things, your substitution patterns, communication with the headsets, his ability to echo those and all sorts of thoughts that can take place during dead time. You need to be careful over that headset. There are those opportunities that you can be able to help navigate with him in certain situations. To his credit there are things that come up spontaneously in the game that I thought he handled very well that had nothing to do with me on the other side of the earpiece. I think that he just becomes more and more efficient with it and obviously with the number of years that we've had with Drew, that I've been communicating with him. Holy Cow, I'm thinking how many plays that I've been communicating with him in 14 seasons relative to the process. There are nuances and differences with the player, relatively to the plan that we had for that game, but more importantly the overall communication. Overall I thought it was fairly smooth. There was one series or sequence where it came in late, we got caught at the line of scrimmage and had a false start. There's one or two where I need to be quicker with him."

What is the risk of giving too much information to the quarterback? Where is that line of giving too much, the right amount or too little??

"I think you really want to work during the week to hit on the pertinent information for each play. In a perfect world, which we're never on on gameday, you really want the reminders and alerts to be ingrained through the gameplan week and then there's some things that take place where maybe you're in the face of the wind on a certain play. Maybe you're in the second half and you're going to get a little bit more aggressive defensive approach because they're down two or three scores. Things can change. If you ever were just listening, basically the microphone when the play before is whistled dead. It's second and eight and the official spots the ball, boom the mike's open, I'm beeping in, the first thing is the personnel we're sending on the field. He's going to echo that and then here's the play. It might be as simple as him in the huddle, let's go. Generally one or two quick points for him, on a timeout, I might say turn to Alvin (Kamara) and say I want a good play fake. Or turn to Marquez (Callaway) and (tell him to tighten his split). He's kind of the telephone there in the huddle for more than just himself if there's a stoppage in play, so things periodically come up that he's able to communicate not to just one player, but several players if need be."

There was a play where Jameis had almost 10 seconds to throw the ball away before he did. Can you talk about the decision?

"When you watch it, it was a great decision. Taysom (Hill) is really the primary portion of the route. He got tangled in it. It was hard to see. So he isn't able to get in the pattern the way we would have liked. Jameis is smart enough. He feels the time. He's evaluating where the other options. There aren't a ton go options on that play, but certainly to the play fake, the running back Kamara in that flat. To throw the ball away, is easy, but you need to have a target to throw the ball away to. You can't just throw it away and it's grounding. He was wise there. He felt the protection, he looked, took a second and then he threw it away in the direction of Alvin. That was a pretty poised play. It was more of a shot play, kind of take a shot at him, we just got tangled up with protection and the route."

How different does a healthy Christian McCaffrey make a difference for Carolina's offense?

"I think I would say when he's healthy, he's running the ball. But the running back position being targeted in the passing game is much higher than without. I would imagine the same case with us if Alvin (Kamara) were out. There's so many different things Christian does well. You begin your play design week. It's fairly easy to at least anticipate on those running plays he's going to get the ball. Obviously there's more thought given into, when he's not running it, what are the passes we want to run. Are they from the backfield, from an empty set or is he going to be flexed with another running back in the game. I just think the running game is one thing and that's significant. He's a running back, but the threat of him as a receiver is much different."

Is he one of the more difficult matchup weapons in the league?

"He's one of those players, yes. He goes into that room, the versatility room, he does X, Y and Z, but he can also do this. He can give you different route combinations, if he's flexed out in the pattern, a lot like Alvin. There are certain things he can do obviously at the running position within the framework of your passing game, so those are all really, really good traits for him."

Was there any kind of urge or deadline to get Marshon Lattimore's contract extension done before the start of the regular season?

"Yes, it ended up happening probably later than he would have liked or we would have been liked. It ended up getting done. Those are always tricky and sometimes challenging. I'm not as familiar to the process with respect to the specifics. I would just say as a coach, I'm glad it's handled."

How important was the play from your defensive front yesterday, where it looked like they were trying to get Aaron Rodgers off rhythm?

"It was a good energy day. Those guys up front battled and played with great effort. I thought overall, there were so many good things defensively. We were able to offensively keep them off the field. You hear that term complementary football. If you can force a three and out and possess the ball, I don't know what the snap total was going into the second quarter, but it was pretty lopsided. In a hot day like that. It can be difficult for the side of the ball on the field a lot, especially the defense. We had their defense out there. I thought they were fresh and did a great job of getting off the field on third down. Our third down numbers were real good."

How much did Payton Turner's injury set him back in training camp? Would he be far enough along to play this week if Marcus Davenport is out for a while?

"We feel like he's healthy now and moving around, we'll see relative to how this week progresses and what we want to do with the lineup, but yes, he's someone that we're going to factor in and I'm sure play a bunch this year."

To follow that up, is there anything you can tell us about Davenport or Lattimore?

"Not relative to any injuries."

Saints defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon

Virtual media availability | Monday, Sept. 13, 2021

How satisfying was the game yesterday, especially with the way the defensive line performed?

"It was definitely satisfying, especially holding them (Green Bay) to three points. It was just a complete game. Both sides complemented each other and that was awesome to see."

How much pride did you take in keeping them (the Packers) out of the end zone?

"That's our philosophy as a defense. It's not over until it's actually over. You'll see some teams let up at the end, especially when they have a big lead like (we had). It's been enforced since I got here that the game's not over until it's actually over."

Is it nice to have the flexibility to be able to rush from the inside and outside?

"Yeah. I love it. Coach Nielsen trusts me with a lot. Being able to put me in those different positions shows that he has a lot of trust in me. I pay it back with making plays while I'm in there and helping us make plays together as a defensive line. We're all good at being on the same page and coordinating with one another."

What's the mind-set in the defensive line room with so many guys rotating in and playing at different spots?

"It is about having a full speed mind-set. The next guy has to be ready to not let off the pedal. Coach (Ryan) Nielsen does a good job at rotating us in and making sure we're not gassed out there so we can always go full speed. We know that the next guy coming in and the next guy behind us will come in and back us up."

Did you guys hit a zone yesterday where no matter what Dennis (Allen) called, you knew you were going to execute and get stop after stop?

"Yeah. I just feel like everyone did their job. That's something we harped on throughout the whole week and over the entire training camp. It's just about doing your job. Once we do that, you see the results."

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Chris Hogan

Virtual media availability | Monday, Sept. 13, 2021

What was it like getting into the end zone after your long journey in the NFL over the last couple of years?

"It was pretty incredible. It's been a little while since I've gotten in the end zone. It's been a few years. To be able to make a play in a game like that, first game of the season where we're trying to find our identity and build on the team that we have, I was pretty excited. I was very fortunate to be in that position and was thrilled to make a play for the team."

What did you think of the offensive efficiency in the red zone despite the lack of total yards?

"I think all game long we moved the ball very well. The guys up front looked great. Jameis (Winston) made all of the throws he had, and the receivers caught all the opportunities we had. We played complimentary football on offense, defense, and special teams. All three phases complimenting each other and building off of each other is what you look for on Sunday's. Our defense put us in good (field) positions where we didn't have to move the ball all the way down the field a couple of times. Everything was kind of going our way yesterday. We did really well in the red zone. Coach (Sean) Payton made some really good calls on third and fourth down and we were able to convert some big plays. I think there's a lot of good things to build off of from this week and move forward."

From your perspective, what's it like catching a deep ball from Jameis Winston?

"He works very hard on (his craft). We work on deep balls and route running in general. He works very hard during practice and off the field as well. He works on his timing and placement. That's something we have been working on together since the start of training camp. That's something I think we will continue to build off of, because that can always be improved."

What goes into perfecting a deep ball?

"There's a lot that goes into it. The first thing is knowing who you're throwing to. I think that has a lot to do with it. Knowing if your guy will be able to win the matchup, ball placement. I think there's so much more that goes into it than just chucking the ball down the field as far as you can. Being able to see leverage that a defender has, whether a receiver gets off clean on the line, and making sure (the QB) puts it in a spot where either it's the receiver's ball or an incomplete pass. I think that's some of the little things that goes into throwing a deep ball and I think Jameis has done a very good job with those things. I think he's going to continue to work on those things throughout the season so he can keep getting better."

How much confidence does an offense gain when you see a defense play like the Saints defense played yesterday?

"A tremendous amount. We were playing complimentary football yesterday. When you have all three phases playing together and complimenting each other, that's what you're looking for on Sunday's. Whenever you're able to create good field position on special teams and create shorter fields on defense by causing turnovers or not letting them drive down the field and giving the offense a short field to work with, those things are what builds a tremendous amount of confidence in a team throughout a game, and I think it builds a tremendous amount of confidence going into next week. That is something that we have to continue to work on. That doesn't just happen when you show up on Sunday's. We're going to have to turn the page on this game very quickly and get back to work. This was week one against a good quarterback that we played (Aaron Rodgers). Now we have to go down to Carolina and play them. Hopefully, we can have the same result. That's something we're going to continue to work on and come ready to play every single week."

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