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Sean Payton reviews the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers

Transcripts of Coach Payton's press conference on Monday, December 1, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Media Availability
Monday, December 1, 2014

How impressive is it to watch Drew Brees?

"He was outstanding.  His intermediate throws down the field, we had some big plays which were important, and some of them came on third down.  I thought he did a great job with our tempo and against a good defense on the road.  It was really good.  It was good film."

How important is it to have the confidence that Drew Brees has?

"I think what you can't appreciate is, because he has been there and gone through games or stretches in our seasons where maybe we have fallen a few games back or gone through some adversity.  His response to that and how he handles that is strong and that is the one thing you can't put a true value on."

With the way the season has gone, is this a team that is still looking for its identity?

"I think we're just looking to play our best football consistently.  It is not odd.  It is not complicated.  It is pretty simple.  Being more consistent and being able to repeat successful, fundamentally well coached football plays that parlay into quarters, halves and games and then have success and finish.  It is not difficult, it is just challenging obviously for us right now.  I thought we did a lot of things well yesterday on tape."

What were some of the defensive highlights on tape?

"The turnovers were huge.  I thought Cam's (Jordan) interception was significant, when it came.  I thought just at the end of the first half was significant.  I thought we did a better job of containing the quarterback.  If you look at his rush lanes, we were kind of able to keep him from climbing freely up in the pocket.  I thought those guys did a really good job of containing him.  One big goal for us was keeping the running back (Le'Veon Bell) under 100 yards and he was at 95 yards.  I mentioned yesterday (when they are) north of 100 yards (rushing) they have not lost at home since 2009.  Those were just a few things.  I thought at the end of the half with five seconds left we should have had a returner back on the long field goal that fell short.  That was a mistake on our part.  When they are attempting a long field goal like that and you have a lot of big guys that can't run we should have had someone catching that and having an opportunity for really what amounts to a chance at a return."

Regarding the last two possessions of the game, how much do you want to stress to them don't worry about that?

"The good news is they ran out of time, but the thing that we can learn from and certainly coach off of is offensively when you are in the four minute it is hard to get 10 yards on three runs.  If you go in saying you are going to run the ball three times in a row, which we wanted to do at that point in the game based on the score and the time left.  It can be challenging but if you have a penalty or a minus play it can be almost impossible or very difficult.  We have to be a little bit better in that area.  Defensively it really came down to angles tackling.  We got a little tired and yet in space we didn't play quite as well.  We will clean that up.  Those are things that we can look at tangibly and point to and I think improve on."

What was your overall assessment of the defense?

"I thought they played well yesterday.  That is a really good offensive football team.  You guys said it all week. If you just statistically say how are they running the ball, you would say pretty good.  The back's (Le'Veon Bell) a real good player.  Ben (Roethlisberger) has been having a real good season.  I think the skill there of the receivers, tight ends and so that was a really well-played game."

You had two interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger yesterday afternoon but it looked like there could have been five.  What did you see there?

"There were a couple of them (balls we had our hands on we should have intercepted).  We need to get on the jugs machine more.  They bounced off our hands.  It is encouraging. You are in position yet you want to be able to come away and make a play."

How important was it to get the run game back?

"It was snaps but yes it was important.  (I was) Saying going into the game (that) we need to outrush these guys and that needs to be something that is emphasized is one thing, but then going and doing it was important.  Up front we did a really good job of handling some of the stunts and movements.  We ran into a handful of run blitzes that basically Troy (Polamalu) does a real good job with anticipating snap counts and finds himself in really challenging positions sometimes offensively.  I thought we handled that pretty well, Mark (Ingram) obviously, Pierre (Thomas) those guys involved.  I thought Ben Watson did a really good job blocking the D-gap.  You need to have a tight end that can do that when you are running the ball against that kind of front."

Did you go into this game saying let's find ways to get the ball down the field?

"We try to.  Each week there would be a category on the call sheet that are, with two categories, that are shots and red zone high fringe plays that you're going to put in.  Some of them may go to Jimmy (Graham).  There was one that was called yesterday for Josh Hill.  Ben (Watson) caught one of them for a touchdown.  If you're putting four people deep into a secondary I can't tell you if Jimmy (Graham) is going to catch it, if Marques (Colston) is going to catch it or Ben (Watson) in that case catches it.  The coverage kind of came off of Ben.  Drew (Brees) did a great job of seeing it and found the open target.  It was kind of how we have been functioning for a while."

Are you looking at the standings and what do you expect from Carolina?

"I'd say honestly we are at the point where we are looking closely at our game film and looking at Carolina film.  But again, looking at our film and as coaches saying hey, what are the things that we have to continue to work on Wednesday when they get back that we can easily fix or that needs work.  We are looking closely at ourselves and making sure we get that cleaned up.  Carolina we played not too long ago so the advanced report that we will have will be a little shorter and yet the focus still is really on our play and improving that."

What do you expect out of Carolina?

"We will expect their best effort, division game and a game that we were able to win there on a Thursday night so we expect that they will play very well and history has told us that."

Were you happy with how focused the team was?

"Yes.  We felt like that was going to be important coming off a Monday night game."

Going forward, does that give you confidence knowing that you can pull back a little bit and they are still that sharp?

"Yeah, we have done that a couple of times this year now.  We have had to do it on a quick week leading up to the Carolina game where we did not even have pads or really a full practice on either of the two days.  We kind of look at each week's schedule and plan accordingly."

Are there times where you use the short technique during a regular week?

"So really, are you going to change your practice schedule?  No.  Yeah we are going to pay attention to how our players are doing."

Do you have a hard time as a coach getting your arms around this league?

"Honestly to that question, it would be very normal to get in the locker room after a game or get on the plane and say, what are the scores?  I don't know that hearing the results is there any time where you are like really?  You just hear them and you understand how number one when you look at the length of a game it is fairly quick.  On average you are looking at anywhere from 10-13 possessions.  You take Cam's (Jordan) interception and let's say just throw in Patrick's (Robinson) little quick screen where he jumps in front of and regardless of a lot of other things that can go on for both teams, throw in a kick return, that statistically you're now at 80-90 percent winner or the other way around.  Generally when you see a high scoring game with a lot of points there are probably turnovers involved and maybe there's a chance of a touchdown scored by the defense or special teams.  I do not think you are ever surprised.  I think every year we find ourselves kind of discussing the same thing though.  It seems like a topsy-turvey and I think it is a lot.  I think it is with the setup, how close teams are matched and when you play a certain game, that is the nature of our game.  It is hard to put a handle on it."

People are scratching their heads after you lost three at home.

"Now us ourselves, compared to the rest of the league, I think we have been inconsistent and I am in that same line with the people.  We are all in it.  In other words, and I would say I listened to Zach (Strief) talk today and other players after the game, that from a consistency standpoint to specifically talk about our team, man, that area we all have to continue to look at being a little bit more consistent and a little bit more as opposed to up and down and really trying to bring out the best of what we can do each week, coaching and playing."

Do you have any ideas?

"I think that you have to build on a good tape like that.  You have to look at it and part of it's confidence and part of it, a lot of it's us coaches making sure that we're doing the right things and giving them a chance.  That is kind of the challenge of winning week to week.  But I would agree with you, this year has been different for us than any season I can recall in a while."

So you understand the fans scratching their heads?

"Listen, absolutely."

Can you talk about what you like about Nick Toon?

"You do not know when his touches are coming but the play he made yesterday was really good, obviously the run after the catch, ball security. I said this before, he just comes to work and it is important to him.  He is very consistent in his approach to preparation.  Obviously his transition to playing time, each players' is different and he has been patient and yet he is one of those guys that never felt or feel like has been discouraged or frustrated and yet never taken for granted that it isn't important or something that he feels like is very important.  I know this, when you are Drew (Brees) and operating in the passing game, I know he has a high confidence level where Nick (Toon) is going to be, his catching radius, his effort to the ball, all of those things.  He is a willing blocker.  It was really good to see."

Can you talk about the timeout you called right before the half?

"We had this back and forth because initially it was (defending them to) go for it and then it was (preparing for a) field goal.  I wish I could have told you it was to make sure we had our alert return which we should have had there.  There was a period there where it was going to be us defending a (an offensive) play.  Here we are at five seconds and I don't know if I had two or three timeouts left but it was let's just stop right here and make sure we have what we want on the field.  We had plenty of time to get that handled.  In my mind I was back from defense to field goal block as opposed to thinking defense to field goal block to let's get a return."

Did they decide to run their field goal team before you called the timeout?

"I can't recall the sequence it was just an easy timeout to take."

Where you aware it was the first missed field goal against you guys all season?

"No, I heard about it today.  I thought it was downwind a little bit.  It was going left to right and that was the way the wind was going."

Do you feel like after yesterday's game that some of those things are starting to break your way?

"We do not talk about that.  I think you earn those things and you get those things because that would lead you to believe hey, Cam's (Jordan) play just happened.  I think you get those things.  You work at those things.  So when you get, I can't recall how many yesterday, I don't recall many, when you execute and you play hard and you have a good scheme in place and you do the fundamentals, block and tackle well then good things generally happen.  When you don't, it seems like you don't have a lot of breaks going your way."

What made the pass to Erik Lorig work this time?

"There's not just one play, to your question there is a handful of play action plays where (Erik) Lorig runs to the flat.  It might represent five different routes and schemes.  It would be easy to lump them all together, hey let's just not throw the ball to Lorig in the flat because they're covering it.  I think number one, situationally we got into a heavier personnel group with a run look.  I thought we received some man coverage and were able to force their inside linebacker to run the hump if you will and lose a little leverage.   Drew (Brees) made a good throw.  The location is important because if he tweaks at all or just turns a little bit and gets tackled, but if you can keep him in stride which we were able to do then Erik does a good job of giving them a target, we execute it and then it ends up being a score."

Does the containment of Ben Roethlisberger that you mentioned going forward apply to Cam Newton and defending him?

"There are similarities in the styles of difficulty, big arms, hard to sack, extends plays and I wouldn't be the first.  I've heard others make that comparison.  When you look at a guy like Cam (Newton) who is obviously much younger but can climb and beat you on a longer developing play.  So your rush plan has to keep in mind those things."

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