New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Monday, November 17, 2014
Opening Statement: "We're kind of in our day after schedule. It's a little different with our itinerary but nonetheless our players are in. We watched the tape with them. After looking at it, there are a number of things and I said this after the game that we did not do very well. I feel like in that first half our third down defense was not very good and that offensively when you are really looking at just three possessions with the way that the game's unfolding early we have to take advantage of those opportunities. We had two drives, two long drives that resulted really in just three points. We weren't very good in the kicking game with regards to giving up a big kickoff return to start the second half and then by the time we got into the second half of this game we weren't able to really change the momentum or the direction of which the game was headed. Right now we have to, two things, we have to look clearly at hey, who we are doing it with, what we are doing and how to get ourselves a little bit more emotionally ready to play. I felt the same thing I think our fans felt when watching the game, it was somewhat flat. We have to look at the work week and make sure we are ready physically and mentally to play better than we did yesterday. Quickly we will go through this and then shift our focus to what would become obviously an extremely important game, Monday night at home versus Baltimore."
Are you surprised this late in the year you have a problem with the team not being mentally ready?
"I don't know that it was much as not mentally ready to play but it's just that energy required. Just meeting with the staff and you are always trying to pay attention to the workweek coming off of a tough loss versus San Francisco and avoiding any carryover affect. It's that energy required to play this game, that enthusiasm that is required. You know that there is going to be momentum shifts but I felt like that was one area that, which really forces, as a head coach you look closely at hey, how do we keep that from happening as you watch it."
There has been a lot of talk from the players that you are a few plays away from being 7-2. Is it time maybe that they stop that train of thought?
"Clearly they, we, us as a team understand that we're 4-6 right now. They understand that. They understand and I think referencing to your question that there have been a number of tough losses, close losses and so that margin for error now at this point in the season becomes that much more slight. We are playing a six game season right now really. I think the focus and the emphasis by now will shift very quickly to Baltimore in our preparations. I think they understand that."
Do you feel like you need to identify or find things that you need to change this week?
"Look, what specifically we do with the schedule, what we specifically we do with how we want to play Baltimore a lot will be dependent on game plan, health of our players, a lot of things will factor into that. We have to find a way to win this week. That is what is going to be most important."
What are the fundamentals of playing third down defense?
"It's percentages when you get to those third and two to threes to fours, those become tougher downs defensively and obviously in longer yardage situations you hope that percentage clearly shifts in your favor. There were a handful of breakdowns that I think we can clean up. I think we can clean up keeping the quarterback in the pocket. I think we can clean up the technique on long yardage situations, where we want to be, where we want to be aligned. I think we can clean up a number of those things. The first half was unique in that both offenses possessed the ball for long drives so there weren't a lot of possessions and I think us coming away with only three then all of a sudden it magnifies or you see the scoring differential very quickly. I think specifically to third downs you can look at how's the coverage, how's the rush and are we where we want to be? Those are things I think we can look at and look to clean up."
Is it fair to say that breakdowns can come from lack of effort and sometimes from undisciplined effort, maybe too much effort in the wrong direction?
"Lack of effort can come and lead to a breakdown in any part of football. That term is different than being crisp. That term we would describe as a low and I am not using that language here. It is just that focus, that alignment, that readiness and awareness to be on point. There is a lot that goes into that."
Can you talk about how you started with six guys at safety and now you are down to about half of that and the continuity of them?
"It's one of the challenges of our league. It's one of the challenges that a lot of teams go through. You do not know what position group it might be. It's been years where it happens at the receiver position or at another position. You heard it being referenced all the time that you want to be as healthy as you can and as you get to the midpoint of the season and as you get to the latter part of the season. We will have to look closely at our best combination there and pay attention to what we think gives us the best chance to win this weekend."
Can you talk about Marcus Ball?
"I would describe him more as a strong safety-type player. He's played in some of the three safety groups for us. He's familiar with what we are doing. He had the early season injury and yet there are some elements in his game that he needs to improve on as well. We'll see where he's at and how he factors in."
Do you find it harder on Monday mornings to come into the office?
"Mondays are always challenging because of roster decisions, because of what you might have to do that's a little bit different than your original plan and certainly they are a lot easier when you are coming off a win than when you are coming off a loss. None the less that is the toughness that is built up by playing or coaching this sport. Our job now as coaches and starting with me is to put together the best plan possible for this game and really the best group of players to execute that plan and that is what we will do this week."
You can't let yourself get depressed?
"No you cannot. You can be frustrated. You can be disappointed. A lot of times for me you look closely in the mirror. We talk about it all the time as coaches, hey, we're responsible to get these guys up to speed to give them the best chance. We're responsible to give them that plan that's necessary and then carry through the work week and get ready to play your best game. Often times you take it personally. It's tough when you play a game like that."
Is this one more puzzling than most?
"This wasn't puzzling. No, this one was tangible. This wasn't puzzling. When you watch the tape it wasn't difficult to figure out."
When you talk about being flat as a team, that isn't something you've said about this team very much this year.
"No, and look you go through 16 games and you're not going to come out the same way every game and yet you're hoping with what is at stake that you are able to come out with more energy and start fast. We're going to have to this week."
What do you mean when you say you are going to look at what you are doing and who you are doing it with?
"Just simply means make sure that we are putting the players in the best position possible with their strengths and weaknesses. It is pretty simple."
Kenny Vaccaro was pretty outspoken yesterday. Do you welcome that kind of attitude in a player?
"What I like is, yeah and I heard and read everything he said and it is that frustration. But when you watch that game towards the end when it is a pretty good chance the score is going to end in their favor, I love watching how he is playing. When you put that tape on later in the game when it appears you know what the result is watching the effort and watching the energy that is a good evaluation. I love the attitude and the toughness he brings and the frustration that comes with it. And quite honestly everything he said, nothing was really out of line it was just that frustration of wanting to get the results and wanting to get the win. Absolutely, it is important to him."
Andy Dalton has been tough to sack all year, but how much of the problems on defense this year has been by a lack of the pass rush?
"Let's start with the first part of the question, the balls coming out yesterday were fast so you recognize that and you understand hey, now you are going to have to be tight in the coverage in the early stages of the routes. It is coming out. They do a real good job with their protections of helping on the edges and so that's what we have to make sure we keep them in the pocket. He's played well in their wins. That was something that was pointed out when they've won games his execution, his ability to get the ball out of his hands has been very good."
Is this a fragile team right now?
"No look it's a team that's obviously 4-6. I think it's a team that understands the position we're in. I think it's important as a coach that you point out these are the things that are keeping us from winning. If we don't identify those things then the pattern will continue."
Can you talk about the ball being taken away from the Bengals fan yesterday?
"I haven't seen the video or even read anything about it."
The Bengals player tosses the ball after he scores a touchdown. The Saints fan takes it away from the woman it was intended for. A Saints staff member came and gave her a ball.
What do you think it will take to win the NFC South?
"It is pretty obvious. It is a six game stretch for us and not really paying attention to the other teams and what they have to do. Fortunately we have a handful of NFC games remaining. We have three divisional games remaining but the focus is much shorter than that. The focus is the first step in this stretch of six games and it is Baltimore."
Could you give us a number of what you think will win the NFC South?
"I don't have a number for you. I would just be guessing right? I don't have a number. I really don't. Honestly, I don't look at it. I don't drive in thinking man it is going to take this number. I know that the first thing we can do is prepare and get ready to play our best on Monday. No one knows the answer to that. We are fortunate to be in the position still to be playing for something and that is the reality of it. We have to get ready to what we think is a real good team coming in here, a team that we haven't beat really since we've been here, since 2006."
When any significant player goes down, how confident are you in the depth on this roster?
"There are certain positions in house that are deeper than others and then there are others that you would look very quickly to a short list that are outside of the building. Those are things we meet on all the time."
Are you surprised by the fact that you lost the last two games at home?
"It is not a given that because we are at home we win nor should it be a given that because we travel on the road that it is going to be a tough one. We were able to get the win against Green Bay and go on the road and get a win against Carolina. Obviously this San Francisco game was a tough loss but the teams in this league, home or away, you've got to make sure that you are sharp and ready to play because really to that question, it would be comparing last year's team, the year before, the year before with regards to their record at home and this is a different team. We are going to have to take advantage of being at home Monday night with the energy and the crowd."
You've had a lot of success replenishing your roster every year. It seems like injuries, whatever hasn't worked out and you haven't had that impact. How much of an effect do you think it has had on your team's success?
"It's hard to put a measuring stick on a specific player like Jairus Byrd being hurt. You cannot really do that. You do know that you are going to play the game next weekend and you are going to have to put the next player in and get him coached up and ready to play. It is nothing that the other teams in our league aren't having to deal with as well."
What do you make of Tampa Bay winning its second game yesterday and being two games out of first place in the division?
"It came up back in 2010 I think with the NFC West. I wouldn't have been able to tell you that it was Tampa's second win. Usually you see a score and I saw where they beat Washington I think. I really mean this, the focus is so much more internal and about your own team that outside that and what we can control is really wasted energy. I think the focus for us is going to be improving the workweek this week, putting together a better week of practice, making sure we are prepared to play a good Ravens team, a real good team."
Drew Brees talked about the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and the message has been we have to keep doing what we are doing all year. And now with his comments it seems like it is shifting a little bit now.
"No back up, you are twisting here. We have to keep doing what we are doing. Listen, there is a method in preparation but clearly from week to week we look at things and change things. We do that all the time. I saw exactly what he said and I completely agree with him. Each week whether it is by scheme or by workweek by practice schedule that is varied pretty consistently, a lot of it is in preparation for this game, which we will do."
Last year you made a strong statement where you made some personnel changes. Do you feel like that is necessary?
"I wouldn't A, discuss it with you, B, we are going to try to do the best things we feel like are necessary to win the game and so that wouldn't be something that would be announced or discussed or bounced off you guys."
Can shakeups be good for the team?
"Yeah if you have the right player to come in and execute with a player that, any time you are able to improve that way. It would vary I guess depending on which shakeups you are talking about. Just the idea of shaking things up, I think we look closely at what our lineups are going to be and how the matchups are. I understand your question."
Is Jamarca Sanford the type of player that can play on special teams?
"We will see. I know where you are going."