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Sean Payton talks about facing the Atlanta Falcons

Transcript of Coach Payton's post-practice press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Opening Statement: "Just some practice squad notes here, two players were waived on the practice squad, Demarcus Love and DT Garrison Smith. We signed G Andrew Miller (#69) and we signed K Dustin Hopkins (#5)."

Can you talk about signing kicker Dustin Hopkins to the practice squad?

"A lot of it was we had the workout last week with four or five of these guys and he was someone we had a pretty good draft grade on. He got injured in his first year but we felt that he kicked well the other day. We're at 10 with that practice squad so you're really trying to acquire the best group of players you have. So from a numbers standpoint it is pretty easy for us to do."

Is that a move that looks toward the future a little bit?

"We think he is a highly graded young player more than anything else. He opened some eyes the other day when he kicked. He did a good job. His rookie year was kind of nonexistent because of his injury."

What did you like from the secondary changes?

"Watching the game there are a handful of things. I thought overall, like anything else you watch it, you play well and yet you put the tape on and there are things you can look at. I didn't like particularly how we finished. Our red zone defense needs work. But I thought there were some positives you can take away from the game. This will be an entirely different type of game and an entirely different type of team we are playing. We will be smart about our personnel packages and how we want to use them."

What do you think it says about a guy like Pierre Warren to go what he went through in training camp and come back?

"He has real good hands. He's able to highpoint balls. He did that the other night. Each year it seems to happen with a player or two in our league, a guy who maybe is on your own practice squad or someone else's. It happens more than you think. They end up playing when you are really looking at a 53 man roster you are not carrying that same depth you might see in a college game. So to his credit though he has come in, having been here there is some advantage to knowing the system a little bit but none the less when you go somewhere else you really dive into another package. He's picked it up quickly. He made some big plays for us the other night."

Does it make it harder to prepare when you don't know the status of a guy like Julio Jones or Roddy White?

"Every week you start preparing with the idea that they are playing. It can happen each week. It might be a defensive end one week that you don't know if they are playing or not. It might be a corner and so I think you put the time in and prepare as if you are going to see that player. The other thing is I would say this about Atlanta and our players know this; their depth at that position is pretty impressive. Obviously the way Julio (Jones) has been playing it is important to know where he is at on the field. But I am sure they will be capable if he is not able to go so we have to prepare like he is playing."

How curious are you to see the young guys in the secondary go up against the Atlanta receivers?

"They are an explosive team offensively and not just in the passing game. Their numbers in the last six weeks with regards to big plays, they are a team that starts fast, they have great tempo, obviously a veteran quarterback that gets them in to some advantage looks. It is not just a challenge for the secondary it is a challenge for the whole defense. It is a challenge for our guys up front and understanding the splits, understanding what we are trying to do within each snap."

Is there something you tried over the years when you have these short week situations that make you so successful?

"I think the one thing is that we value the recovery time after the game. We're careful not to come right out in pads again and build up if you will. That mental approach cannot change though, the focus in regards to the routine, the meetings and be that it's a divisional opponent there are some things that are unique and different from the last time we played them with regards to what they're doing scheme-wise. I would say the big thing is making sure there is that distance between the game you just played and the time you are out here going full go."

Do you think with the changes you made in secondary that you are better equipped to handle a game that goes to the last possession?

"The great thing is we play Sunday and we're going to find out. Like I said at the beginning it's a different team than we just played. It's a different team than Chicago. What we're going to try to do is put our guys in the best position to have success and I think we didn't do too well the last time out. We struggled and we weren't able to finish in a number of areas. We are going to put the best plan possible in place and get the right guys in there and get ready physically and mentally to play a good game."

How do you feel about your options right now as a play caller offensively?

"Good, aside from losing Brandin (Cooks) earlier in the year. We're healthier at running back. We should be good that way. I think you pay just as much attention to your guys up front and how they are doing. Protecting the quarterback will be a big issue in this game for both teams. Both teams have very good passing games that if you give the quarterback too much time it can be difficult. That will be an important point of emphasis."

Do you stay with the changes you made in the secondary because one game is not enough to get a true evaluation or is it a competition week by week?

"They're always competing. They're competing. You do not receive the practice snaps necessarily you might have in training camp but they are competing on every snap that you are grading on tape. What varies week to week are the personnel packages that you want to have defensively. To defend Atlanta, a lot of time they'll be in a lot of three receiver sets and how does that affect what you want to do. Typically we carry a handful of those packages. It might vary based on package who's in and who's not. I think our guys, I am pretty sure they understand the importance of consistency and there are some things we will take from last week and try to improve on. In regards to who, we will just wait and see and make sure we have the best guys doing it."

Because the first meeting was way back in week one, how much do you review that game film as opposed to what they have done recently?

"It is in the cut ups. It is in the analysis. It is in the study and then at this point in the year being it that we just played Monday night there are still games to study. You have a lot of tape. So we would typically take maybe four games, ourselves. At this point in the year we probably have more than enough information in the computer in regards to what they do and now it is really trying to apply it to how that affects you. How will they play man? Who will the matchup be? And the same way on the other side of the ball. This late in the season there is a lot of video and a lot of tape. We would put our game in there as well."

Will you learn more about your team this week than you did last week?

"I think each week you're learning with different players. I think that's part of the progression of a season. Obviously this is an important game. It's significant and our players understand that. I think both teams will have that sense of urgency and understand the significance of it as it pertains to our division."

How important was Nick Toon's response to his fumble?

"It was good. Obviously that ball security thing is a big issue. The safety got his helmet on it. I think he can be carrying it tighter than he was and none the less I think at that position, no different than running back, the turnover thing is big this week and we were fortunate to recover from that and yet we had real good field position early and just didn't take advantage of it. I think Nick is someone that will work hard at correcting that and came back and gave us some good snaps the rest of the night."

From a strategy standpoint was it something that you wanted Terrence Frederick in the lineup or were you just looking to make a change?

"He earned it. We weren't just changing to change. But he is someone that I think when we have seen him obviously in training camp prior to the injury and with the scout team snaps, he's smart. He quickly gets aligned. He understands the coverages and we felt like it was something that he earned. You don't know when that opportunity is going to come and you want to take advantage of."

Did those guys play with an edge because of the way they were overlooked?

"For a lot of these guys they are. I mean that I think that if you get a player that has traveled maybe from a team or two, we've had success with a handful of those guys that have come in here and played well for us in certain positions. There needs to be that sense of urgency regardless of what position you are playing and how you are acquired. Those guys did enough good things that was encouraging."

With so much riding on this game do you feel extra responsibility as a head coach to come up with that something extra to bring your team over the top?

"I think that feeling that you are just discussing exists weekly. It exists weekly and I mean that. It existed last week. It existed the week prior. It existed the opening game of the season. You are going back looking at notes, looking at more film. That's something that exists each week. Did I cover this? Did we make this a point of emphasis? That would be pretty normal each week."

Do you put a cap on how long you go through looking for things?

"I don't think so. There is not a cap. There are things we discuss, the night before the game we are discussing making sure…I don't think we take that 'hay is in the barn' approach if you will."

Do you view all turnovers the same?

"No they are different. I think the first thing you look at is ball security. Is it secure? Each one is different yet they all have the same effect. They can be different."

Where would Nick Toon's fumble fall on the scale?

"I don't know. We aren't grading his turnover or ball security. He could've been carrying it better, lower his pads better, protect, he was a little bit upright when he got hit. But it varies to answer your question."

Did Bryce Harris seem more comfortable coming into the game?

"He has played some. He is experienced and obviously if you are a tackle in this league you want to enter a game with a lead. I think we were finding the running game and mixing it up with the pass. I think he did a good job. He handled it well. The challenge the week prior was large deficit and I am going to be not only for the new tackle in the game but the right tackle, anybody on the offensive line when you are throwing it a lot more becomes a little bit more difficult."

Is there any gain to looking at a play sheet?

"I don't think so and yet it's interesting that something like that shows up. Pretty soon they'll be in our bench area helping out with the play calls. I don't think there's much to it. There's a lot of terminology. I am kind of surprised that it showed up on the TV screen."

Is it safe to say that that won't happen again?

"It is hard to cover that. It seems like it is getting bigger but it is just the font because my eyes are getting worse really. But my point is the access year to year changes. Those booms that are behind you used to be four feet and so the line that they stand behind is the same it is just 10 foot booms now and it will be right over your ear. But that access gives them that opportunity to get a shot. That is just something that really as a network you wouldn't want to put on there my guess is."

If you saw that from an opponent would you try to get something from it?

"I wouldn't put it on if I was ESPN. It would be nothing to really do with it. You'd look at their terminology. There is nothing that it is really giving you."

Fair to say that you can dissect their plays from what you see so it is not telling you anything you don't know.

"It is 50 different names of plays. It would be different than signals or different than maybe…they are not numbered in any particular order. I don't see a lot of benefit if you were an opposition really."

How about how sensitive the microphone is in picking up the cadence of the quarterback?

"It is significant. That topic, we'd have a database now.  What happens is so the microphone goes in either your center or your guards for the benefit of the production.  So when you play at home on a nationally televised game where it's quiet those are the games where you'd get the cadence.  Shoot, Peyton Manning is doing a commercial because of it, Omaha, Omaha.  So that is much more significant than what we are discussing in regards to get offs and not so much the live, there are some things tot that but the tempo of the cadence, how it sounds when play is changed that is different now.  That is something we are adjusting with, everyone has to but if you are on national TV at home.  If you are on the road it is too loud and you don't hear it.  When you are at home you guys, we have all heard more and more of the cadence than we normally used to."

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