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Sean Payton: "I think our players understand the importance of this game this week."

Quotes from Sean Payton's post-practice press conference on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, September 25, 2014

Can you talk about today being the eight year anniversary of Steve Gleason's blocked punt?

"I guess it is off because of a week difference. We are in week four and that was week three. It seems like quite a while ago. I didn't really realize it that it was the eight-year anniversary. Obviously it was a special night, an important one. I've said this before, that 2006 season was arguably just as important as any other season we've had in light of everything that had gone on in 2005. A lot of things came together and we played on the road those first two weeks and of course the preseason games were on the road, so I think our big concern was half the team hadn't played a home game there and just working through the logistics of traffic and all the other things with the events that were going on that were unusually different. I think it is documented, Drew (Brees) had an issue with traffic. There were just a lot of little things and that (Steve Gleason's blocked punt) came up on I think their first punt. And the play prior (to the blocked punt) was a fumble that went out of bounds where I think (Scott) Fujita was close to making a play on the ball and we weren't able to recover so of course the punt thing came. But the timing was perfect for him (Gleason). He executed it just right."

How rare is a seven minute drive to close out a game and what goes through your mind when you are watching that?

"I think the challenge in our league is running the ball when the opponent knows you are going to run the ball. It is hard enough to begin with but when you are in that situation you are getting a run heavy defense so trying to come up with 10 yards, trying to come up with a first down. Last week was a little bit longer, obviously longer than just one first down. I think that when you are able to finish that way and never having to put your defense back on the field, I think that's a boost to your team. It doesn't always have to be a run, as a play caller you are thinking well if we throw and its incomplete then the clock stops and it is like giving them an extra timeout. But sometimes you get aggressive and we'll throw it off of play action. But I think it's important because you are going to get in those situations and your ability to force them to use your timeouts and your ability to convert that one first down you need, last year it came up a couple times and we weren't able to do that. It has been something that we've talked about and looked at closely. It certainly has been something that we've pointed at as a goal for the offense."

How has Austin Johnson met your expectations through three weeks?

"He is doing well. He has been a big part of the run game success. One of the things he provides is the versatility to help in the kicking game so that when the game is over you are not just looking at 14 or 12 snaps of fullback offense when he is in, you are also looking at the special team snaps he is playing. That is important when your fullback, tight ends or for that matter your receivers, when you have offensive players that can contribute in more than just field goal protection. In other words, in the special teams core, that's a plus."

What does Stanley Jean-Baptiste have to do to become active?

"We've discussed it at the beginning of the season the roles for our players are week to week and not seasonal roles. He's competing out here. They are receiving a ton of work. When he's out here facing the offense working on the other team's defense, they are playing the same type of coverages, bump and run, they are playing off, and so it is just from a technique standpoint. I think being familiar with all the ins and outs as to playing that position. Obviously it is relatively new for him being that he converted from a receiver from college. It is something that those young guys and not just at corner, but the same thing applies to Nick Toon and Joe Morgan, some of these guys that have been active or inactive, they are working for their snaps with an opportunity to be ready to come up. It is week to week."

Is it a challenge for you because you have had second round picks come in and start for you right away?

"It varies with the players. I've talked about it before, not just the second round, there are some guys that have been undrafted that have come in and will be up and then there are some guys that maybe have been drafted high that won't be. Each week we try to look at what we feel like can help us in that game."

Have you gotten the push you've wanted up front on the defensive line?

"There are two parts to that, I think fitting the run game properly as it applies to Dallas will be very important. I think they've really improved in that aspect and you see it even in the second half when they played St. Louis last week. I think the running game was a big part of them getting back in the game. Of course they hit the big play action pass to Dez (Bryant) on a busted coverage but I think it's something that I am sure they've emphasized and you can see it on tape. Not just in base personnel, but they are doing a good job of running the ball in nickel. We are going to have to fit that well. With regards to pass rush, Tony (Romo) is one of those guys that can step up and climb. He can climb out of a pocket. We are going to have to contain and do a good job of trying to minimize those opportunities where he extends plays because he can do that pretty well."

Can you talk about how Dallas was down 21-0 last week and stuck with the run game?

"I think that's the case. They were able to get some points before the half ended. I think (DeMarco) Murray had some big runs too. I think that helped him."

Has DeMarco Murray quietly become one of the most effective running backs in the game?

"I don't know that it's quiet. I think that when he's been healthy, I think people in our league that know the player know that he is someone that has (the) strength, (and) power. I think what's also impressive is he is playing on all of the downs. He is playing the base (offense). When they get to third down, you see him in there as a (pass) protector. He is receiving a lot of snaps and has been a big weapon for them."

Why do you think there is such a mismatch with Marques Colston and the Dallas defense?

"I don't know that it has been a big mismatch, I think often times he is catching balls in the intermediate or middle part of the field so sometimes coverage can dictate that. He's obviously a big part of what we do offensively so there's snaps where he's not just lined up wide, there are snaps where he might be in a similar position to where Jimmy (Graham) might be. So a lot of it would be dependent on the coverage we are getting and what we got a year ago or in games past. He has had a good week of practice and each game can kind of unfold differently."

Because Benjamin Watson is used so much in blocking, how much does it change if he cannot go this weekend?

"With respect to your question though, I really do not want to get into hypotheticals with injured players. He is someone that received work today and was able to practice."

Has there been a similar spirit at practice this week compared to last week?

"I think our players understand the importance of this game this week.  I think that the preparations are ongoing.  This is obviously a different team, I said that at the beginning of the week, than we played a year ago.  They are coming off two impressive road wins and I think that balance they have offensively and I think collectively defensively they have done some things that are different than years past so you see some scheme changes.  Obviously I mentioned, there are a lot of new faces some positions and I think it is important that we have a grasp as to where they are going to be and what they are doing."

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