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Sean Payton on facing Pittsburgh Steelers

Transcript of Sean Payton's post-practice press conference on Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Opening Statement: "Most of today was meetings and a walk through for some of the stuff we are getting installed in the base for Pittsburgh

Did you do a walk through to assist with physical recovery?

"Yes, more recovery, (we're working on a) short week coming off a Monday night game. There will be some carryover to some degree. We felt it was best."

Will you have a full practice on Saturday?

"No, I think there will be a little bit more that we do in the next couple days because of today. It will be a little bit more on a Saturday than it normally would be."

Is it more about physical vs. mental preparation at this point or just that guys need a rest where you scale things back a little in an instance like this?

"The mental preparation is extremely important, but there is still technique work that you are working on that involves the looks you receive in practice and the looks you simulate. This is more just about recovery and we made today more of the mental preparation. We'll catch it (up) in the next couple of days."

The defense seemed to be on the rise at midseason and then it seemed to regress the last few weeks. Is there anything you're seeing?

"The one thing I think you see speficifally is the third downs. I think you make an emphasis and talk about getitn off the field. The down and distance regarless of what it is, you get someone to third down, I think we have to be better in that area. That's something we'll look closely at and continue to prepare for these guys. Because you can play first and second down real well and then on third down, you give up a conversion and you're right back at the beginning. That down and distance I would say specifically has to be better."

Does it take a cumulative toll on the team?

"I don't know that there's a cumulative toll, the point is that there's that consistency where we haven't been as sharp. We haven't been as sharp on getting off the field on third down and so that's the thing that we have to address and correct. It's one of a few things. There are several specific things but that's one thing."

What do you see on the run defense that can be improved?

"Just looking at the film, a handful of times we're not fitting the gap the right way, maybe even an alignment issue pre-snap. Those things need to be cleaned up. That begins to stress the secondary, because all of a sudden if Rob's (Ryan) having to call a certain pressure because he feels like that's stopping the run, the end result all of a sudden puts more pressure on the back end. There's that happy medium of being able to fit the run correctly in some of your down safety looks. That has to be better."

Is scheme change coming as a result or to try to change it?

"It would be very normal for me to go in and sit down and kind of hear their base plan and sub plan, as early as last night when those guys are working on their advance installation, not for today but tomorrow and the next day, to see where the targets are going on third down. I think it's critical to understand where the ball's going. Are there certain guys that jump higher on third down. These guys (Steelers) obviously have a lot of weapons and are operating at a real efficient way. They are one of the few teams in the league that are operating as efficiently offensively and defensively in the top 10. I think they're seventh offensively and third defensively getting off the field. So, when you play someone like that, that has to be something you pay attention to and to our point that has to be something we're better at to begin with."

Could some of the issues with the run the last few weeks be overcompensating for the injuries and problems in the back end?

"I don't know. I think if we went through some of the breakdowns and the runs last week, it's just gap integrity and fitting it correctly. I don't think it's necessarily tied to compensation in regards to another player being in. (It's important) understanding that when you're playing some down safety defense, understanding your alignment to begin with and finding the gap to fit it correctly. I think that's the number one thing when you look at the runs."

Is that the only thing you can think of?

"Last week, you get some oddball formations. I don't want to say that makes it easily correctable, but we have to clean that up and it's something we can."

Do you find it unusual that this late in the season in back to back weeks you are facing a team coming off a bye and do you find that to be a real detriment?

"I was asked about that earlier. You really can't control it. Each year is different. Sometimes you may go a season without playing someone coming off a bye. I don't think we can control it. We don't discuss it much. Obviously you understand the game tape you are looking at is not just recent. You recognize that there's that added preparation. It's something you really can't control. I don't think we pay a ton of attention to it. When you receive your schedule, you look at it, you look at the travel, you get the matrix which is the crossover. You see when you're playing someone. All of a sudden that appears."

This late in the season from a freshness standpoint when a team has time off this late in the season, do you find there's a real advantage in terms of fresh legs?

"That's one of the reasons we're doing what we're doing today is to make sure that we have that energy and we have that ability to play fast and guys are rested, but we can't control the other element of it. That part is out of our control. But we can focus on what we have to do and that's where we've focused on."

Is there anything new on Brodrick Bunkley and can you talk about the progress of John Jenkins?

"There's nothing new on Bunkley. I think I'll know more tomorrow. I think John is doing well. He has been in the rotation. He's been receiving more and more reps. Obviously he's going to receive more reps this week"

How has Rob Ryan handled this recent tough stretch?

"It's one of his great strengths, his resolve. I said this to the players in the morning meeting, a stretch like this tests your toughness mentally and you have to challenge yourself to come back out and put in a good workweek and get yourself ready to play a real good football team on the road. That's what we have to do. That's what we're challenged with, but his focus and passion is a huge strength."

The message for the past few weeks has been about the team being so close and keeping chipping away, everybody's talking about being close and chipping through the wall. Does that have to be re-evaluated?

"The message each week varies. A few weeks back we put up an illustration. It was a simple one. Obviously you pay close attention to the last game that you played and the best thing we can do is go out and get a win. That's what we need to do. There's a sense of urgency. We need to play better. We understand that. These guys are all adults in that locker room. They understand the importance of winning and losing and preparation. Their focus was good (and) it has been good. They're lifting weights right now. We have a good challenge this weekend."

Is there value in referencing the 2011 Giants?

"I think there is value in referencing. I've made some analogies already with these guys. I think there's a lot of value in that. It wouldn't just be in our sport."

The 2004 Red Sox?

"There you go. So, again, I think you're constantly as a teacher trying to do that. You look at some parallels, some comparisons and it's just the way it is, no different I'm sure that they're doing in Atlanta right now or Carolina or Tampa. You guys have seen this happen to us before, it happened in '09. We lost three games in a row at the end of '09. No team's ever lost at the end of the playoffs and gone on to win a Super Bowl. Immediately after the first playoff win, that's all gone. In other words, it dissipates. But in order for that to happen, we need to find a way to improve. Obviously we're not playing well enough right now."

How important was Lance Moore to your past success?

"He was outstanding. He epitomized all the things we were looking for. We were fortunate enough to come in back in '06. He was smart, he was tough, he was an exceptional route runner. He was very reliable. I think that when you look at his production year in and year out, Mickey (Loomis) and I had this discussion not too long ago, about whether or not to put him on I/R or not that 2009 season, he had a hamstring or groin that was aggravated. He missed some time and missed some time. We opted not to and he got healthy enough and all of a sudden in those postseason games, he played a big role. Because of his football IQ, he was always good. You look at guys like him and (Marques) Colston and some of the stability that the position group had for a number of year, the younger players learned a lot from those guys. He wasn't just third down, he was red zone (and other things). There were so many things he could do."

Ben Roethlisberger is probably having his best season. What do you attribute it to?

"I think this. I think the first thing, the balance they possess right now has really helped them as an offense. You look at some of the skill players that have emerged and you look at the running game and their ability to throw it outside and down the field. You mentioned it, you look at certain stats and down the field throws, they're near the top of the league. Third down (efficiency), they're near the top of the league. So, he's certainly capable of doing the things we've seen for years, tough throws across the body, avoid sacks, but I think all of a sudden now with their ability to run it and throw it you see the efficiency of the offense and of a great quarterback."

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