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Sean Payton, Drew Brees talk about playing San Francisco 49ers

Both met with the media Wednesday

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How has Cameron Jordan been doing with his ankle injury?

"I think it felt like he made progress this past week without playing x number of snaps and setting it back.  We just kind of monitored how many snaps he was on.  It helped that we were only 40 some plays defensively to begin with.  I think he felt afterwards a lot further along and I think it is getting real close to where it is not going to impact how he plays.  And I think he felt pretty good coming off this game with the snap count.'

Did you kind of see that after watching tape with him?  He looked more like himself.

"The prior week we were on the field a lot more defensively, almost, not twice as many (snaps), but close to it.  Then it becomes more challenging, but I think this past week we made progress (with it).  I know he felt the same way."

Can you reflect on the acquisition of Parys Haralson in the preseason and how he has evolved in your system?

"He is a veteran player.  He is a physical player.  There was a good fit, not only physically as a football player, but also as one who has had experience and been a part of a winning program.  There's a confidence level about him that he brings and it really worked out well for us, just with his level of expertise of playing outside linebacker.  He is versatile in that he can give you rush snaps and I think he is an outstanding teammate."

Is Marques Colston pretty close to 100 percent?

"Yed, I thought the other night, the week prior not playing him, I thought he responded very well and moved around very well.  He made a number of big plays for us."

What are some of your thoughts on the read option offense?

"I think it just depends on who you are looking at.  I think it starts with a talented quarterback like San Francisco has.  He (Colin Kaepernick) is very athletic and we've seen plenty of evidence where he can create the long run.  It is one thing if that position can run it just to keep you honest, it's another thing when he's the ballcarrier and he becomes the running back.  I think he's got that skillset, but equally impressive is his arm strength off of play action.  He's right at the top of the league with big plays both in the running game and the passing game and it kind of sets one up from the other.  There are certain things they want to do defensively to stop it and you might give up some things in the coverage end and that is when he is able to take advantage of the looks he is seeing.  It is challenging to simulate in practice to give the defense a realistic look of how it is on game day so it presents a ton of challenges."

How much has (Colin) Kaepernick grown as a passer?

"I would say show me the team that is getting beat and I'll show you some of the things that are happening with the quarterback. Typically if at the end of the game you are behind, you are probably throwing it more than you would like, then it becomes a little more challenging to play that position.  He clearly has evolved to someone who understands not only the running game, and they do a lot with him at the line of scrimmage.  He's involved in getting them in the right scheme at the line of scrimmage.  You'll see some shifts and you will see him directing traffic at the line and getting the best look that they want to run against. But from a passer, I thought he made a ton of strides last year and you saw game after game the confidence he had going all the way to the Super Bowl and you see that carry over this year."

How better do you think you are at home than you are on the road?

"Tell me who we are playing. I think it is more opponent-based. I think that there is an element that every team has to playing at home starting with the crowd noise.  I think that is significant in our case because of the indoor stadium, but I think if you are going to be a good team you have to play well on the road and it is something that we have been able to do especially seasons that we have been a playoff team.  Our record has been pretty good, so a lot of it depends on the team you are playing.  Is there an advantage to playing at home?  I think there is."

How seriously were you considering making a change at the kicker position with the guys that came in yesterday?

"I think we will do this, we had safeties in as well. We will have other positions in next week (for workouts). We typically will bring in players maybe that are on our short list who validate a grade and make sure we feel the same when they leave.  Often times you will have one of those workouts and you will see teams do this and they will bring in 15 or 20 players. It gives them a chance to update their short list. That was just one position and granted I know there is speculation on the kicking position, but I think Garrett (Hartley) and I've said this not too long ago the other day, he's done it in so many big spots.  I've got a ton of confidence in his ability and I'm glad we did back in 2009 and I think the same applies this year."

Did you talk with him? Is it rhythm? Is it the snap?

"No, I think it's probably a lot like a golf swing and he is smart enough and understand when he hits the ball cleanly.  I think the other night he just didn't have a clean hit, with power though he has tremendous leg strength.  When you're starting to kick field goals that are further out, if they go right or left, you live with those, but I think that he's someone in big moments, again, you hate to go into a critical game and not know with a player, but fortunately for us we have been in some of those games and had a chance to evaluate him in those moments. He's been outstanding."

Pass protection was a huge problem for the Saints last year against San Francisco.  What kind of challenges do you expect this year?

"I think it became more problematic in the second half, but this is a very good defensive front.  It is a very good defense, the best defense we've played to date so far.  They are physical.  They have guys on the back end that are exceptional in coverage.  The corners do a great job within their team.  They are well coached and you see (Donte) Whitner who may line up at a certain depth making plays at the line of scrimmage.  He's a tremendous tackler.  He has great instincts.  That combined with their ability to get to the passer, their ability to stop the running game, they create a lot of challenges.  Being able to stay ahead of your down and distance and not get behind the chains and those long yardage situations can help you in that regard."

With Mark's (Ingram) performance last weekend, does that change anything going forward in terms of the running back rotation?

"I think you build on games. Players are no different than teams in that regard. I think, yes does it help a player when he has a big game and I would say yes.  I think that he ran extremely hard, did a good job with his pad levels and ball security was very good.  It's something you build on.  He's accomplished a lot at a young age.  I'm quite sure that he felt that pressure to perform especially with the toe being hurt for a good portion of the start of the season.  I was pleased for him and pleased to see him have that success.  I think it also does something for your offensive line."

What do you think about that penalty?

"I said it the other day, I know the type of player he is. I know the type of, I'm not going to say kid his is, but I think clearly there was a lot that had built up. That's not like him and I was probably as understanding as any penalty after a play was over as that one."

When Benjamin Watson went down last week, how frightening was that?

"I think there were a couple of snaps in that game where Dallas had a player (Dwayne Harris) on our sideline and then in Benjamin's case, you go out and initially you never know what the initial diagnosis is.  On our sideline they felt it was a neck (injury with Harris) and he ended up returning and being OK.  Until you are over there with the trainers and doctors then you realize what the injury is, anytime that happens there is always a level of concern."

Do you ever worry about coaches' health?

"Yeah I think the challenge always with long hours and travel is it is hard enough to begin with to eat right and exercise when you travel in your line of work or anytime you are on the move or flying.  It is just hard to get into a routine.  I think the same thing would apply to someone who is coaching, working long hours, the exercise at times and I have been the worst in years past, falls by the wayside and then what you are eating, the same thing begins to happen.  I think from an exercise standpoint, it can help you with your focus and when you are working longer, help you a little bit more with your energy level and then the diet or what you are eating is something that we try to pay more attention to overall as a team hiring a nutritionist who can come in.  There are times where every one of us goes off and there is something whether it is on the plane ride home, whether it is sitting here in the cafeteria, it is hard to walk by that cookie machine.  Just forcing yourself to and I think that, and I have had a chance to communicate a little with John (Fox), not Gary (Kubiak), but there can be something really good to come out of that with regards to a little bit more of a focus on all of our parts."

Is there anything you guys can do consistently to do health-wise to help yourselves?

"I think the challenge because it has been brought up in regards to hours of coming up with some guidelines (for the hours of coaches).  I think the challenge is the Thursday night game, the Monday night game, the staffs.  Every game is not played on Sunday at 12 noon.  If it were, it would be a little bit easier to look at hours in and hours out.  I think that generally, and look there is more attention to it because there is more attention to our game, but this is something that isn't unique to coaching football.  You can take any line of work, I think there is just a little bit more attention to it in the fact that in one instance it happened during a game with Gary (Kubiak) and the other with John (Fox) during a bye week.  It is just kind of paying attention to that and taking a little bit of personal responsibility trying to keep yourself in a little better shape."

How many hours do you put in in a given week?

"Oh, it would be hard. I think the earlier portions of the week are generally longer then Friday and Saturday backs off a little bit.  It would be the earlier portions of the week, the specific number I wouldn't know off hand.  You really just try to get X number of hours of sleep and then try to make time for a workout.  It is something that I have been able to do."

Is it hard to cut out pizza since you have a Chicago background?

"You don't need to have a Chicago background to say it is difficult to cut out something like pizza.  I just think everything (can be) imbalanced and that is what I have tried to focus on, just a little bit more balanced."


New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You have played against this San Francisco defense twice in the past two years. Are they just as potent as normal?

"As good as they've ever been. There's an expectation level every time you play those guys. They're extremely disciplined and very talented. A lot of individually great players. Obviously when you put them in there as a unit, they play very, very well together. There's a definite style, a definite scheme that they just execute to perfection."

Have they been the most difficult matchup for you guys in your time here?

"When you look at what they've been able to accomplish over the last two and a half years, it's been pretty impressive. The (last) two times we played them, it's been a tough matchup. I think the biggest areas, things that they kind of pride themselves on, is stopping the run and being physical (and) getting the ball out,. They're still tops in the league in turnovers. You've got a lot of ballhawks on that team."

Without disrespecting the previous opponent, are you curious to see how much of what you guys accomplished the other night translates to a different style of defense?

"Here's the thing: every game, every opponent is different. It's a new scheme, it's a new game plan, but I think the balance element. The success we had running the football is something that we would like to be able to continue to be able to repeat. That doesn't mean you're going to go out and rush for 240 yards per game, but I think the commitment to it, the emphasis on it, and the buy-in from everybody is important."

You talk about how sometimes you are unhappy about leaving plays on the field when you look back at that game now that you've watched the film. Is it one of those games where everything just worked?

"There's always stuff. Rarely do you have those games where it's like everything just comes together. Maximum efficiency in all areas, we always preach that. Rarely do you get that close to it."

Knowing how well the team plays at home, how important is it to be at home in the playoffs for this team?

"I think it's important for any team, certainly it has served us well. It's something you always strive for. Obviously that's a long way away, but in the past when we have gone on the road in the playoffs, the mindset has been no different. The preparation has been no different. Unfortunately we haven't been that successful on the road in the playoffs as we have at home, but it's not like we dread going on the road. Not one bit. I would say that if you would look at our road record over the past eight years, and that's a pretty big study or big profile, I'd say we've been pretty good."

How much does the noise or environment factor into the offense when you go on the road?

"Of course, from a communication standpoint, it's easier for me to sit here and talk to you as opposed to having to signal something to you. I feel like we put a lot of time into the communication aspect of things, just with body language and signals, identification. I feel like it has served us well for the most part."

After giving Marques Colston the week off, was he the closest he has been to 100% this past Sunday?

"He looked great. I think he felt great. Marques is a tough guy and he's always battling something. But he's always going to be present and he's always going to give you his best and he's always going to be a playmaker and there for you in crunch time."

We talked a lot about Mark Ingram's emotion in the game Sunday night. Did you see even maybe a little bit of that in Marques's touchdown? That was probably the quietest month he's ever had in a Saints uniform.

"I don't know. He's so steady all the time. I don't think. At least for me, you always know what you're going to get from him. Some games are going to be bigger than others or just kind of the way they play out. Maybe a couple of games stretch where he's catching a lot of balls, catching a lot of touchdowns, and then all of the sudden there's a quieter few weeks. But during those quieter few weeks, Lance Moore is having a big day. It's Kenny Stills or Meachem. I think you guys have seen enough of it over the last few years that we spread it out quite a bit in that way."

Have you seen a lot of Eric Reid highlights from his time at LSU or have you seen him on film this year?

"Yeah I have seen a lot of him. He's a very talented player. He's big, fast, physical. He fits well into that defense."

Can you talk about the offensive line and how well they kept you clean on Sunday?

"Absolutely. Here's the thing: you don't want to hang on too much to any previous game, whether it was good or bad. You take the things from it for 24 hours; you learn from it, you build on it, what have you. Certainly there's confidence builders and momentum builders, but we came off of a tough loss at the Jets, we wanted to get back on the winning track. It was Sunday Night Football against a very good NFC opponent in the Cowboys. You get a big win, now you're 7-2. Look at the rest of our season. It's not going to be an easy task, and it starts this week. There's no bigger game than this game, especially based upon the previous meetings with this team where they have had our number. We need to play better, execute better, and find a way to win."

I know it's never the focus, but how much do you feel like you owe San Francisco?

"It's nothing about owing. It's nothing about revenge. This is our next game. It gets us to 8-2 (if we win), and it allows us the opportunity to beat a very very good opponent. One that you have to sit here and say that there's a great chance that they're going to be in the postseason. I know that's there expectation level. I'd be extremely shocked if they weren't. When you have mirroring expectation levels, you just know the type of game it's going to be."

Do you anticipate seeing a little bit more of Aldon Smith trying to come after you this week than he played last week?

"I would expect so. I would expect that they would continue to increase his rep count. We plan to see a lot of him."

Do you think that more than a lot of teams, the 49ers try to bait you into throwing balls over the middle? Is there something they try to do to make you throw a bad pass?

"I think every defense tries to fool you, tries to give you certain looks that you haven't seen before, or disguise certain looks to make you think it's something else. That's part of this game, but you still trust your instincts and what you've been taught within the scheme and execute."

Kaepernick's decision making has been under a lot of scrutiny on the west coast. What are your thoughts on him in his second year?

"I don't think I've seen any of their offense this year in any of our game planning for other teams. We just haven't come across any of those. It seems like they're playing other teams after we do, as opposed to before. He's still a playmaker. We certainly know what he's capable of, both running the football out of the backfield and throwing the football down the field. Let's not forget that this is a guy that took them to a Super Bowl last year. I know our guys are preparing for that kind of guy, and I don't see why anything has changed."

How much of the Michigan way of Bo Schembechler do you see in Jim Harbaugh?

"I think obviously we all have our influences. Sean Payton has some heavy influences from Bill Parcells and others. I think those things come out. I was with Marty Schottenheimer for a long time and I kind of know his disciples and the things they've taken from Marty. Bo Schembechler was at the college ranks but now has this tree of coaches or players that have played for him that I'm sure are carrying on part of his legacy through the way that they coach and that tough old school mentality. Certainly the way that these guys play, if you want to say that's old school Big 10 smashmouth football. That certainly seems to be the style they play on defense."

There's different ways to win in this league, and it seems like this one is a great matchup of two differing philosophies on how to win, at least offensively.

"If you just looked at the sheer numbers. I guess all you could look at would be rushing attempts, passing attempts, rushing yards, passing yards, then maybe it'd be different. I think the philosophy of (taking) care of the football, (being) efficient at what you do, (scoring) points, (playing) good defense, I'd say those are constants in this league. Just because one team runs a 3-4 and another team runs a 3-4, it doesn't mean that they're running the identical same scheme. There's variations too. Just because one team is running the west coast and another team is running the west coast, doesn't mean they're the same offense. There's variations too. Everybody puts their own little spin on it, but the philosophies of we know what wins football games is the same. Take care of the football, play good defense, rush the football well, play good special teams. That wins football games."

When a team is known for running the football effectively, is it also a factor in winning the physicality battle of the game?

"Certainly the element of physicality when you think about the run game just because, (you have to) make them tackle (you). I think the passing game gets the perception of being this finesse style offense. If you're executing it efficiently, not turning the ball over and you're scoring 40 points per game, call it whatever you want. It's getting the job done, you know? I think just the philosophy of you've got to run the ball in this league to win, period. Nobody is able to go out there and throw it 50 times a game and win. You have to have a combination of, and it might be something where it's not something that happens early, but you wear a team down with it and it's something that wins in the fourth quarter, or maybe it's something you start with until you build a lead. There's a lot of ways to execute it, but at the end of the day you've got to be able to run and you've got to be able to play good defense to win in this league."

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