New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Opening Statement: "A couple of roster moves: Kenny Vaccaro with his fibula fracture was placed on Injured Reserve. We signed defensive back/cornerback Terrence Fredrick for his spot on the active roster. He is number 31. We added to our practice squad wide receiver Charles Hawkins. He replaces wide receiver Chris Williams who I think will be signing and being brought up to another team's active roster. I don't have that team yet, but for today's practice Hawkins was an addition to our roster."
On Monday when you talked about being very encouraged by Terron Armstead, can you give us some examples of some of the things you felt he did well?
"I think one of the things that we saw in the running game, he did a really good job finishing. I thought we did a good job up front overall. There were a number of times in protection that we were encouraged with. When you grade the film out there are a handful of things going on with how we protect. We had him for two sacks (allowed), but overall we were pleased. (It was his) First time out on the road against a good player (Greg Hardy) like he went against and a good front, that's encouraging. That's real encouraging."
Can you walk us through the thought process on the fake field goal?
"I talked about it after the game, it made sense for us. We were going to go in with an aggressive (game)plan. We had the onside kick (recovered), but from a field standpoint, we are going into the wind. It was going to be a tough field goal. I wasn't going to attempt a field goal just based on (field and wind/weather) conditions and it really made a lot of sense from a standpoint of us trying to pin them back with a punt. Our defense was playing well. We were able to hold them. It was just kind of one of those plays that I felt from a timing standpoint, there wasn't a lot of risk with where we were on the field."
Can you talk about the final possession and your thought process?
"Just paying close attention to what was happening in the game. I thought we were doing an outstanding job defensively. We were going to try and make them use all of their timeouts and the whole game had been played a field position game. We were going to be smart and make them burn a timeout, burn as much time as we could. We took it all the way down, called a timeout then punted. That was really just kind of paying attention to how you think the game is unfolding. If it was a high scoring game you might approach it differently."
How much has the defense affected how you are calling the game?
"Each game is going to be a little different. Sometimes you end up being in one of those games that's a shootout that you weren't counting on, other times you end up in a game where two defenses are playing real well, the weather is challenging, you have a number of different elements and I felt like there was a period in that third quarter we were backed up, backed up and we were finally able to hit (Jimmy) Graham coming out and it changed field position. I felt like again, we were winning that battle. I think just being able to adjust midstream and understand what you are seeing, I think that is important."
What are your thoughts on the NFL playoff seeding system where you have times where a wild card team can have a better record than a division champ and yet still you have to play on the road?
"That was a big hot topic here for us in 2010. I think like anything else, they lay out the…I kind of like the way it is set up right now. You might argue that we are one of the only sports with the byes. You could add a team or two wildcards. There is going to be a handful that maybe don't make it that are playing well with good records. I think, we like anything else, we just look at the schedule, what are the rules, what does it take to get in and then let's go compete and make sure we give ourselves a chance to do that. So for this weekend, we are not really, I said this earlier, looking at the scenarios, the records. We are looking at playing our best game here. We are coming back home, taking advantage of what we get when we play at home and playing a good football game."
Drew Brees is coming up to another milestone with another 5,000 yard season, but has been sacked more times than ever. What does that say about him?
"He's very durable. He's still someone that is very decisive with the football. I think this, I think that he has a great understanding of where he wants to go by coverage and a lot of times he is able to avoid pressures. His numbers are a little bit changed with regards to hits this season maybe than the past two or three seasons and yet that still puts him in the top 10 with per attempts. He has just been very consistent and he brings and works exceptionally hard at keeping himself in great shape."
Have you ever seen a season like this where we are down to week 17 and nothing has been decided?
"This would be unique especially in the NFC. I think this began two or three years ago when they started looking closely at really pushing these division games further back in the schedule to hopefully alleviate teams that would decide to rest starters and hopefully make games that are more compelling and I think you are catching a year where particularly in the NFC that that is happening. There are three divisions, the North, the East, where what is unique there is both of those games are winner wins the division so they might as well be a playoff game, and then the South is still undecided. There are some wild card things happening in the AFC, but I think this year would be certainly a little different than we've seen probably a good result of what their goals were a few years back when they started pushing some of these divisional games back in the schedule."
Can you talk about how close some of your games have been?
"Yeah, every year when we look at the two minute cut ups, just the games all start at the same time, the noon games, so right about three o'clock I don't ever take a look at the red zone channel, but I think all of a sudden you're catching the last two minutes of half a dozen games. Of those games, probably four or five are going to be decided on that drive, defending it or scoring with it. Same thing with the afternoon games, it is our league. That is what makes that situation so important when you compare it to other situations that you practiced during the course of the week. The two minute, you are either defending it or you are in it and it is a pretty important, obviously and important part of the game."
Fans are used to maybe the SEC.
"It is different. It is different in the talent level, the way it is set up in regards to the acquisition of talent, your roster sizes, at 53, 46 are only up on your game day. It is much closer and there is a small gap between very good and good and then good and average, those gaps, along with the injuries can really make a factor."
Yeah, like the Rams? !(http://www.neworleanssaints.com/media-center/photo-gallery/Mark-Ingram-at-Carolina-Panthers/dbf642b9-477a-4ec1-9b63-f37efc0041c7 "new orleans saints")
"Absolutely. It is a good football team. It's a good team, especially after the injury to their starting quarterback (Sam Bradford) they have really played well."
I know percentage-wise ever since Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles emerged, a large percentage of passes have gone to tight ends and backs, is that by design or have teams gotten better at taking away down field passes?
"We try to have that balance, whether it is receiver, inside player, some of it is dictated by the defense, some of it is dictated by the time you have to throw. There are games where you have the longer plays down field to the receivers. A lot of it varies on the opponent you are playing. The yards per completion, the big plays are something that we still make an emphasis on and it is still an important part of what we do and yet that should be something that you feel comfortable with and you feel like the defense you are seeing gives you that play, gives you an opportunity at that play. I would say a lot of it is game specific and it is an important element though of what we try to do. You want to be careful that you are not just throwing underneath. There are some weeks where you get a little more coverage. I would say the last couple of weeks we have been getting a little more pressure man coverage mixed in with their zone. Each team has a little bit different personality with what they like to do. Tampa Bay will play a lot of man technique if you will. I would say a pressure defense that is not afraid to bring the linebackers in or safeties so our protections and understanding our pickups are going to be important."
Is it a ratio or balance that you are happy with?
"I think probably as a coach you are never happy. You are always looking to find ways to get the ball down the field. I think that is one area that each week when you put your shot list together of plays that have a chance to go way down the field, you are trying to find matchups, you are trying to find coverages that give you that. It is something that you are always looking to improve on."
How do you go against human nature and the team dwelling on the loss at Carolina last week?
"I think it was disappointing for all of us because it was right there. I think that recovery time and understanding just from the way we practiced today, understanding just what's at stake right now. I think there is a good many of them that understand how hard it is to get into this position and get a chance to win 11 games and play in the post season. I think today's meetings and practice was sharp and I think they understand the importance of it. I don't think this is a week where they can't recognize or understand any of us can't value the importance of this game. This would be like a playoff game."
When you look at Drew's (Brees) sack totals, when is it fair or not fair to say it is the offensive line that is struggling?
"I would wait for myself and go through the cut ups and what not and take a look at exactly the breakdowns. I think, I don't want to use the word spoiled, but shoot that is something that has been very exceptional and it is something that you don't have those numbers or have the numbers that he has put up this season without those guys playing well. You are still statistically looking at a group that has done very well, very well per pass attempt. We are not grading any players right now or grading any lines. You guys can."
Any chance that there are more good rushers in the league now?
"I think you are going to see that with some of the pressure packages. You are seeing it with, seems like the last three or four games we've played, we've played some really good defenses that could get after the passer, but we are talking about probably eight to ten different snaps than maybe a year prior, maybe 15 different snaps than two or three years prior and for me that is not as important right now."
Are hits and hurries not up as much as sacks with your team?
"I think like anything else, I think you can look at it and they were probably up three years ago and you weren't paying attention to it. Have we won a game, you wouldn't be doing this study."
Do you care that the league moved your game back?
"I didn't feel disappointed or upset that we were moved to the later slot. There are so many things that are going on, what game are you going to pay attention to. I don't think that really affects us at all. I think coming off a road game and playing a later game at home, I prefer it schedule-wise, so that wasn't a big deal for us. It is just making sure we are coming in and our players understand that. For us to be in the post season we have to play well and win. That is the one thing that we can control. Not every team going into this week has that. They will handle that."
Did they do that so if Arizona get eliminated?
"Yeah that would be a good question for them. I am sure they are trying to find that balance, but I completely understand. It makes sense."