New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Monday, December 22, 2014
Opening Statement: "We are kind of in our normal Monday after a game routine. Obviously it's a tough day to come back in after a game like that. We have gone through the tape with the staff and the players have seen it now. A lot was said after the game yesterday. It was a tough loss. I thought we played with real good energy and effort. I thought emotionally and all of those things were on point and yet I think one of the things that hurt us all season and it manifested itself yesterday is that turnover takeaway giveaway margin. So when you're playing in a game against a team like that and you end up minus four those numbers for the year are real poor. You really just keep yourself from having an opportunity to win a game. That's something I obviously have to look closely at but I think it's been (a problem). Now in games that we have won this year they have been a positive but it has been something that's really hurt us and still is the number one statistic with regards to winning and losing. If you take a look at the top eight or ten teams in that category most or all of them will be in the playoffs. I think we are second to last in that area."
How do you make sure your locker room approaches things the right way?
"The guys will have the right mentality. It's important to finish strong. It's an important game for us to play. Obviously it doesn't have the relevance that we'd hope for but that being said, it is important for every player, every coach. So the only schedule change would be Thursday just with regards to handling the holiday. That will be important."
There are other sports where it is an accepted practice to go for a higher draft pick. Why has that never filtered into the NFL?
"Obviously each sport (and some) teams are different. We'd never do that. We'll have our best guys out there preparing and doing everything we'd normally do if we were playing for a playoff spot. It won't be a bit different."
Is there not an inclination to play some of those guys that you have been sitting?
"No, I just answered it. No."
Do you take any time this week to look back at all on this season?
"Not yet. I think all of that will take place after the season. The focus this week will be on Tampa Bay."
Statistically you are now the number one offense in the NFL. When you look at it how misleading is that stat to you?
"There are a lot of things we have done well offensively. Our rushing numbers were better throughout this year. I think getting away from total offense I think the most important thing we have to improve on ball security and protecting the ball. I didn't even know we were sitting there like you mentioned. But I think the ball security and the takeaways defensively and the kicking game, all of those things give you a chance to win games. With the amount of possessions you have in a given game though statistically when you are minus four it is like a 98 percent favor to the other team."
When you do have a number one ranking like that, does it make it a little more difficult to say that there are some things we have to change?
"No, all of that we will spend time on when the season is over with."
How much does the last game really factor into your evaluation for next year?
Official team photos from the New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons game on Sunday, December 21, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)
"I think to their point which is my point, every time. It's not like we have 80 games or 100 games (like in baseball, basketball and hockey). In this case you have 16 regular season games and X amount of snaps per player and for us as coaches. So everything goes into putting your best stuff on tape. When you are out there executing, functioning because look you are doing it for the New Orleans Saints, you are doing it for your teammates, you are doing it for your own record or history in regards to how you are playing when other teams grade you. I think our players from a response standpoint as we prepare to play this game will be just fine. They understand it's their resume they are constantly putting on film. You don't have the quantity you might have in other sports as far as plays and reps."
The frustration with being able to get Jimmy Graham consistently involved this year, how much does that weigh on one of the things that was inconsistent from week to week?
"There are a number of things that were inconsistent and yet finding the timing in the passing game early on, those are just fine points, details. We had some opportunities yesterday and yet it's that consistency week in and week out and being able to adjust. We had more man coverage yesterday. We really were not getting doubled anywhere. Depending on the package they were in (Dwight) Lowery was playing Jimmy (Graham) in some cases and in other cases it might have been their strong safety. But look that's just one element. He is someone obviously is a play maker for us and we have to constantly look for ways to put them in those situations where we give him a chance on the ball."
Will you address the touchdown with the league?
"No, listen, in fairness to the officials yesterday, I really got a fair, although I didn't want to hear it, a solid answer from (John) Parry. I think it is a crew that we think is one of the better crews year in and year out. The challenges that conclusive and depending on which team, which fan base you are a part of had it been called a touchdown I am quite certain it would remain a touchdown. He said they spent a ton of time and not only are they spending time, they are spending time with New York looking at it. It is hard to really argue that because it kind of is what it is. Obviously it was a significant play in that game and yet it wasn't just the deciding factor."
What do you think about New York being involved in that?
"I think more and more we're trying to use the technology available to get it right. We're in favor of that. We are not too far along, we are really a year or two away before there is a chip in the ball and there's a plane (angle). It happened in San Francisco earlier in the year where there was a quarterback sneak. Did he get in? Did he not get in? There was a fumble. It looked like he might have. We are closer to that part of it from a technology standpoint. I like the fact that any turnover or scoring play is reviewed now. So there are a number of things I think that are trending in the right direction with regards to just trying to get the call right without slowing up the pace of the game. in that case, you can just rewind it 15 times. The coaching tape is not a good reference point. I think we all saw the one, there is one vantage point that became the one I am sure the spend most of the time on."
Do you think they should have cameras on the goal line?
"I think they will be real close to just the plane being marked. Shoot we do it with our dogs right now."
You said it wasn't a head scratcher what got you beat in a lot of games.
"To that point the ball security, the takeways, you finish minus two in a game you're in the 80 percentile. If you finish plus two you are in the 80 percentile obviously the exact opposite. So some of those things they keep you from winning."
Did you feel like this team had the talent and the makeup?
"We are talking about end of season questions right now when we have to play Tampa Bay. We will have a chance to look over every element as far as playing to coaching to who is in the building, all of those things like we would every year."
Looking at the pass rush that they generated yesterday and they haven't been able to do that this year, is that one of more disappointing things for you, the protection?
"There's a handful of those snaps where our offensive line was on point and we miss a (blitz) pickup maybe at the running back position. There's two snaps where we are kind of hanging on to the ball and guys are covered. But we did feel like coming into the game and I think I mentioned this during the week at some point we felt like whichever quarterback was clean was going to significantly impact the game because that can lead to turnovers, that can lead to third down conversions, that can lead to being more efficient in the red zone because you are looking at two extremely talented players if given time that will be tough to defend. I would say that was an important element to the game with regards to the turnovers, with regards to the time of possession. That was a big part of the game."
Will you learn more about your team this week?
"Honestly I told the coaches in our meeting, our preparation, our approach won't change in regards to the hours we are spending, the time we are on the practice field and I think the leadership in this locker room and the players here will understand that. It is part of the message this morning. This is a game we are playing as if it is the most important game of the year and you know what, it is the next one. It is the one we have to play. We'll get ready and handle the change in schedule on Thursday and go from there."
Does this season leave you without a sense of accomplishment being eliminated this early?
"Well yeah but when you say this early, there is a week left in the season so yes you want to be playing meaningful games. I am trying to think of the last time, I know in 2012 I wasn't here and the season finished without being in the postseason, for me going back, 2008. Look, it drives you. There is nothing like winning and that feeling of being successful and having the chance to get in the tournament and play for something. When there is that finality of not accomplishing that there is disappointment and all of those emotions."
Are you in a bit of shock?
"No it is not shock. That wouldn't be it. It is disappointment. Obviously the highs of winning and being successful are up here and the opposite are just as low on the other end as the highs are winning."
Do you need these types of seasons to build a championship team?
"Obviously you try to learn and get something, information, validation with regards to what you cannot do but I do not think they are necessary in regards to. In other words yes, are there pitfalls before you ever achieve, I think with any team yes. But I do not think you look at it like this is necessary for future successes. It is what it is. I've said this before, you earn it. Teams in the past earn their records and this team the same way and we are all a part of it."
Drew Brees acknowledged that he is getting older. Do you see him being more driven now next season just because of the simple fact that he missed an opportunity this year?
"Absolutely, just the competitor he is but again you just recognize that when you play in games like yesterday and it was unique that that game had relevance based on the record of both teams and the way the division was unfolding and yet those opportunities aren't always given. They don't come around every year."
You mentioned Thursday's schedule change. Will you still practice?
"We will practice Thursday, we will just come in later."