New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Friday, November 22, 2013
It was a short night but a good night?
"Yes, it was a pretty quick turnaround. Fortunately it's not a long flight (back). The following week is always a challenge when you come back from a Monday night game on the West Coast. Players are in right now. We're going to meet here in an hour and a half. They're lifting, running, the typical day after a game routine."
Did you follow the same model for a four-day turnaround that you did when you had to travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys on Thanksgiving in 2010?
"I probably would pay more attention to a Sunday to Thursday schedule than (one of) three games in ten days. We played an afternoon game Sunday. With a quick turnaround Thursday, it's really about the proper rest. You can argue that the turnaround is too quick, but every team has to do it. We really tried to get them in the sweats and in walk-throughs to allow for their bodies to recover. I don't get as worried as we get closer to a game with physical activity, but I' m always worried after a game where (to make sure) there is enough distance and recovery. I thought they handled it well. I thought they knew going in it's something every team does. It used to be just Thanksgiving. I guess every team in the league has one of those games. You prepare for it and really work on the film study. Some of you brought this up this week that it also happened to be a division opponent which maybe takes a little stress from a mental preparation side of it off."
You've had Pierre Thomas for seven years, so you know all his strengths, but are you relying on him more this year or in recent weeks or realizing his importance to the game plain more?
"No, each game is different. Of course Darren (Sproles) didn't play last night. There are certain runs he's tagged for and Mark Ingram received enough carries. I was probably planning on playing Khiry (Robinson) more, but our snap count wasn't as high as it had been in prior weeks. From a time of possession standpoint, Atlanta had done a good job with some of their drives. We just didn't have the same amount of possessions. Pierre was outstanding last night and stepped up and played well. He's playing well for us."
He seems to be a mild-mannered guy. Is there something beneath the surface with Pierre that we don't get to see?
"No, he's steady. He's one of those players that since we've brought in in '07, he's very versatile. You see him both in the screen game and running game. What you don't notice is how good he is in pass pickup and how strong he is at the point of attack."
With three games and three wins in 12 days, did this stretch tell you something about your team you did not know?
"I think we've gotten a little bit better defending the run and a little bit betterrunning the football. I think the things we pointed out with the bye week whether it was Dallas, San Francisco or Atlanta, that all three of those teams are different in how they attack offensively and all three of those teams are different defensively. I think we've been able to see that. I think we'll see some real good opponents coming up, starting with Seattle. I think from that standpoint, I'm encouraged."
Do you find that you and your play-calling and decision-making is showing a lot of patience even when you are not ahead by a lot or maybe even down, maybe to settle for a punt or a checkdown pass?
"Number one, punting's not always a bad thing at times, especially on the road. I think we can play a team on the road, I you look at it statistically you can see that the key to the turnovers and what it does to wins and losses is pretty significant, especially versus Atlanta. I think patience is part of it. There's an old saying, it doesn't have to be aesthetically pleasing to be effective. At times, that's just being smart. I think that last night, we had a handful of those possessions. The same way defensively, there were some yards between the twenties, but overall you try to grade it each way. It was a good win for us, a good win against a good team. It's pretty sweet to sweep a division opponent like Atlanta. They had a lot of injuries and we had a lot of injuries too."
Has it come into play some?
"I don't know that it's not anything we haven't tried to do before."
Can you speak to your defense's play in the fourth quarter, especially the last two games?
"We've tried to eliminate segmenting games that way and try to concentrate more on finish. I was really pleased with finishing, getting the stop we needed defensively, the turnover and the sack. I was happy with a number of first downs. I still don't know what the first call was on our possession. I understand it was holding. How that all unfolded was a little unique. Nonetheless, we've been able to do that to win a game. Our numbers on the road have been strong going into the fourth quarter."
What did you see in Keyunta Dawson when you picked him up?
Ryan Pace felt like we had a chance to get a physical player who could play on special teams, kind of an outside edge player. That was an area we felt we were thin at. We felt he was someone we looked at when you watch on film. When you look at production, he was around the ball and did a lot of good things. Last night was a great example. It was a great rally play from the stack. It was a wide receiver screen. There were some instincts involved there and yet it was a good hustle and effort play."
Were there a lot of things you didn't like from last night's performance or does playing the Falcons after San Francisco on a short week trump that?
"No, I didn't think there were a lot of things I didn't like. I wouldn't say that at all."
Did Tim Lelito play well?
"I think he did a really good job considering he had one walk through on Tuesday."
How big a jump has Cameron Jordan taken this year?
"I think we've seen a bigger jump because number one, the players around him are having success, so you can excel in a season like a year ago, yet there's no attention that's going to be drawn to that. I think he's in great shape and I think he has an exceptional way of getting on the edge of an offensive player. He's 100 percent back from that ankle that he tweaked a few weeks ago and had a huge impact in last night's game."
Can you break down the schedule of your team for the next several days?
"They're in all day today, (then) they're off through the weekend. They'll have a bonus practice on Tuesday next week and the first official day we'll see you guys I believe is Thursday."
Are you going to miss us?
After three games in 12 days, you know have a lot of time off for rest and preparation for one of your toughest games of the year in Seattle. How does that work out?
"Seattle's on a bye this week so they have whatever the two week timeframe (is). We have the additional time. The challenge of playing on Thursdays is the tight turnaround. Once you play the game, you gain some additional time, so we'll try to use it as wisely as we can. We know we're playing an outstanding team that is playing at a high level in every phase of the game when you look at them. It will be a big test for us. The big thing is for us to get rested and begin the film preparation."
You talk about how the 12th man helps you in New Orleans. You have played twice in Seattle. Do you notice any similarities like here?
"Absolutely, there are probably four or five venues that separate themselves (from others). Clearly this is one of those venues the way the stadium's constructed. The other thing I would say that their fans are passionate. They love their team. They're smart. They know how to get loud and when to be quiet. It presents challenges and it's something we're going to have to be good at and be able to handle and it's one of the challenges of playing on the road. Then you add that it's a Monday Night game on top of it, I'm sure it will be a real loud environment up there."
You know your team has a good road record but that you still hear storylines about playing cold weather. Is it fair?
"Someone needs to do a little research on it so that we don't spend time answering dumb questions."
When you hear those questions what is your reaction?
"I think it's a typical stereotype with a dome team. I don't know what else to tell someone than to do some research and bring back some numbers and I'll answer a question."