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Sean Payton on defending Jacoby Jones

Transcript of Coach Payton's press conference on Friday, November 21, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Friday, November 21, 2014

After the losses the past two weeks how much value does it have to win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and playing at home?

"Obviously it is important to play well and defend you home stadium, take advantage of the crowd noise and all of those other things and yet again, I emphasize it, there is a carryover effect in regards to years past when we are really taking about this team.  We have to be able to play better than we did the last couple of times out.  I think our players understand that, take advantage of the crowd noise, take advantage of the things that can really be an ally."

Can you maybe emphasize that a little more because Tampa Bay and Minnesota were close games?

"Yes, I think getting out and playing well early and doing the little things that good teams do, that's the key.  I don't think you go into it saying alright, here are games where we have to…well tell us how.  It gets back to what we are working on."

With a guy like Jacoby Jones coming does it make it an even higher priority to be better at punt and kick coverage?

"Our coverage units have been real good.  We are at the top of the league in punt coverage and nowadays with the way the kickoff rule is set (there are more touchbacks than in the past).  I would say this to your question though, this is a green light team.  In other words this returner whether it lands eight yards deep, nine yards deep, as long as his heel is not hitting the baseline we are preparing to cover a kick.  He has kind of earned that green light.  Most returners use some common sense in regards to where that ball is at with the hang time and making the decision.  Unless that thing is kicked out of the end zone we are going to be on point and have to be because he is that good.  I think you see his ability both in the kick and punt return game.  He is an elite player.

Does it complicate it much with having so many new guys covering kicks?

"You try to reduce scheme and really work on effort, timing, energy and then who is on there.  Some things happen in a fast speed and generally the guys with pretty good football awareness end up doing the right thing.  A guy who doesn't have good football awareness it is a unit where that could stand out very quickly."

Do a lot of the teams that have success in the return game have a lot of core players that they keep and invest in for years?

"I think our coverage units have been outstanding.  The one area (where we could improve) would be punt return.  So no I think every year and I feel like we are deeper now and we have some of those spots with versatile players.  When you can get a third tight end like Josh Hill, when you can receive production from a running back position group, safety, backup linebacker, every year, now teams will keep an additional receiver if he is a good cover player or he has a unit skillset or teams will look at and have core special team players no different than we do.  That is pretty common.  It is not different at some teams than others.  Obviously it is an important part of the game."

Covering kicks is not the most spectacular part of the game.

"If you said this, if you said yardage is worth points and if you studied over a period of time and you said 100 yards is worth a touchdown which is about right.  In other words let's say there is no return yardage with either team and one team has 400 yards offense, the other 300, there has been no turnovers, you would say that there is a seven point differential.  When you start adding up coverage yardage and return yardage those are yards that are going to equal a field goal, at some point a touchdown, hidden yardage is what we would refer that to."

How much does limiting the opponent in return yards help reduce concern facing Jacoby Jones?

"I think you have to take the approach that you are all out covering each week the best returner and obviously there is a heightened awareness when you are covering an elite returner.  It can't be the next week well this team hasn't returned the ball very well or maybe there is a player back there that is not at that same level because guys are talented enough in this league.  There is a reason they are their teams first returner and all of a sudden you give up a big return.  The approach again is assignment, effort, football awareness as you are covering and it is something that when it comes to punt coverage when you have a punter like (Thomas) Morstead that really helps a bunch, hang time, direction punting, all of those things go into it.  When you have someone that can kick off like Thomas (Morstead), now you are covering kicks deep in the end zone with decent hang time.  Every once and a while he will hit the three iron and it is a little lower.  I think it is discipline and awareness and practicing each week.  The key is to trick the right amount of practice and now wearing guys out."

Do you calculate return yardage from across the 20-yard line or do you calculate it as it is?

"Just look at the numbers, yeah.  Let's say the return came out to the eight so off of what your average is and what their average is you can begin to come up with the return differential."

If they have four kickoff returns and end up at the 20 they can have 70 yards of returns but would it be better off if it was zero?

"Add them up compared to your return yards.  You're going to get a differential.  The numbers in our league are just average return.  (The) Average (kickoff) return comes out to the 28 yard line. That's a good return team.  Most of them you see a lot at the 20 or 21 with all the touchbacks.  It is just a simple equation of, you can take both special teams units add them up and come up with the return yardage, hidden yardage."

So it is the differential you are worried about?

"Differential is what the total is, no different than the offense and defense.  That is what the hidden yardage is."

What is your momentum process going into Monday's game?

"Well we haven't had much momentum coming off of two losses.  The key's creating it.  I think it starts with the confidence you gain with a good practice.  I thought today's third down (work at practice) was real sharp.  You have to be able to carry that into a game and conversely if it's not, if there's a lot of mental errors you're obviously not as confident going into a game.  It starts with the workweek and then proper adjustments.  It can in a game come from one play.  It can come from one series and there's going to be an ebb and flow, (and) back and forth of momentum, but it usually results in production and having success."

Do you guys try to clean slate at all and look at it as a six game season?

"You have to look closely at okay, here is where it's at.  But I do not know that you ever just clean the slate.  You have to talk about hey, these are the things we have to improve on.  Our focus really right now is not the other teams in the division.  It is not the remainder of the schedule. It is really playing well this Monday night against Baltimore."

How do you address getting better defensively on third down?

"Today, third down script, doing self-scout, paying attention to it, trying to get the right people on the field, looking closely at what we are doing and then actually practicing it better."

Is it a mental thing though?

"No.  It's about execution.  It's about understanding down and distance and it's about understanding what an opponent's trying to do and it's about studying the tape looking at splits.  It's about all of those things."

Why is it so much more difficult on third down?

"It is a different down.  In other words you can play well on first and second down and yet your third down is your off the field down.  You are a lot of times in a different package.  There are generally more DBs on the field and more receivers, so obviously a lot more passing."

What does the team need or expect from Marques Colston over the next six games?

"Shoot, just what we have been receiving (from him).  He is consistent.  One of his greatest traits is reliability and durability.  No one has to become someone different with an injury to someone else. Other people are going to step into roles and play more but it's not like all of a sudden we're going to get something different from him.  My question would by why didn't we see that last week or the week before?  The point I am making is just what he is giving us.  Now whether the ball might go to him more, that could certainly be a result but it wouldn't be what would we expect more from him I guess.  It would just be in regards to production."

Would you dial up play specifically for him?

"Yeah each week within the game plan.  You don't just drop back and throw it to someone.  But yeah, ultimately there's going to be designed touches that go to players and so you will see Monday.  All of those guys will step it up and I think they will do well."

Do you look at that every week and have designed touches for each player?

"Absolutely, last night you spend three or four hours on third down and you are going through each play and who is primary.  Yeah, absolutely."

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