New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
*Wednesday, September 10, 2014 *
Media Availability Following Practice
*Do you have to prepare for Johnny Manziel at all and if so how does that change things for your preparation? *
"At your personnel meeting in the morning, you discuss the depth chart and then with regards to a quarterback that might play separate from what we're preparing for with Brian (Hoyer), I don't know that you devote a period to it. You would definitely look at the packages he was in during the preseason. We might spend a little time in the walk through if all of a sudden there's a substitution. We might feel like there's a significant difference with what they're calling scheme wise."
How did you think Cleveland rallied in the second half on Sunday at Pittsburgh?
"Pretty good, the second half (was) very good. They got four consecutive drives that led to points. They got some tempo on offense. The backup rookie running back (Terrence) West had a good game. I think as that game unfolded, especially in the second half, the first job of a quarterback is to lead his team to score and he (Hoyer) did that well in the second half."
Did they do things drastically different in the second half or was it just execution?
"I would say the tempo helped them, the execution. I would say they ran the ball pretty well."
Is West a guy you feel like you know from pre-draft scouting on him?
"I think every year, you're playing a team, next week will be the same case with a rookie in the lineup that you're familiar with. I think with a runner you very quickly have to adapt to the speed at which he's playing. I think he has very good vision. He's someone who's been very productive in college. Now he's not the only rookie we might see in the game. Obviously he's someone that's going to play a significant role in this game."
Are rules changes the reason you didn't play much bump coverage on defense on Sunday at Atlanta?
"I don't know if that was the main reason. When we played some press there was some safety help behind it. I would say for certain that it wasn't that we changed the technique we played because of the emphasis."
Are you planning on playing a little more aggressive this week?
What do you want to see from your front seven in terms of a more efficient pass rush on Sunday?
"The key is the balance between coverage and a rush depending on if you are rushing four or three or more than that. We'll have that balance. I think it's easy to say, that but you want to get them in the long yardage situations. You want to stay in the second and fives. You want to get in on the third and longs. First down and second down can help you a lot."
*What are some of the challenges the defense face in stopping their run when they're in nickel? *
"It's not just as simple as when they're in nickel. The first thing that happens is obviously a bigger player leaves and a smaller player comes in. The question is how are you deploying fronts in nickel? You can get in some heavy run fronts in nickel, favorable defending the run and challenging defending the pass. It's not just defending the nickel. It's what's the front and coverage you're playing within it?"
How seriously did you consider picking up Terrence West in the draft?
"He was like any player we graded well. My first hand exposure was watching him in the playoffs against the school I went to (Eastern Illinois) in the semifinals. He had like 300 yards rushing that night, watching him on TV. I think it was more just understanding who he was, having a grade on him. It didn't come down to us deciding if we were going to select him."
Were you pretty happy with the offense Sunday?
"We talked about it already Monday. We talked about the red area, the turnovers. Again, in a game like that where it's going back and forth and you have to match the scores, we came up short in that department."
How do you think you did in the run game?
"I thought we did pretty well in the run game. The protections were solid. There are things to clean up. We'll get challenged this week. This is a good front we're playing."
Do you remember the only other time you played in Cleveland with the Saints in 2006, your first game as head coach?
"It just seems like a long time ago. We came out of training camp with a lot ofquestions I think. I'm not sure what the record was. We won one game and lost three if I'm not mistaken. It was kind of a one possession game back and forth. We were able to make some plays. I know Roman Harper had a sack. (Marques) Colston had his first touchdown. But again, that seems like quite a while ago"
Did you save anything like your game ball from that game?
"I'm sure there's one in a box somewhere. I'm not sure exactly."
After losing your last four regular season road games, have you changed any of your itineraries?
"No. We feel like the itinerary's good. I think one of the things you have to evaluate after a loss is making sure the corrections are made. Hopefully we'll play better when we need to. I don't think that has anything to do with traveling or when we're getting to a hotel."
When this team has a poor day tackling like Sunday is there time to get after that and correct it in the following week's practice?
"Absolutely there is. We have individual periods out here, where it's strictly fundamentals. You're working location, landmarks, leverage, where you're fitting. The number one thing is population of the ball. All of those things we work on and we have to."
Would you emphasize that more after a week like that or do the preparations stay the same?
"Sure, you would look at that specifically."
What type of role do the wide receivers play in the ground game's production?
"I think it's significant. You look at any team that's rushing the ball well, they're usually blocking the perimeter well. Defenses are very good at getting the seventh or eight-man down based on the formation you're in. If you're not able to block correctly you'll end up getting a lot of second and eights, third and eights. Safeties are good enough in our league to support. You look at the film this week for instance of Cleveland, (Donte) Whitner is a guy that's able to fill and support the run. He's very aggressive, so that's part of running the football."
You lost the 2011 opener and still had a great season. Is there anything you would mention to your guys about that?
"I think the most important thing in our league is when you have a loss, how you respond. I think the only thing I know you can do is get back to work, get better on the details and preparation, focus on the things that we pointed out on Monday and focus on the ways to improve, addressing those things as coaches during the work week."
Is it one of those things where Sunday can't come soon enough?
"Yes, the tough news in our league when the week begins is you're kind of going through the film. Getting up and getting ready after a tough loss (is hard). The good news is you play each week and you get back in the ring, play a team like this on the road and try to improve your game."
Is it a little more difficult to tackle when the defense is spread out like they were Sunday?
"It changes. When you're seeing a lot more spread sets. It changes some of the leverage points and where you're coming from compared to when the offense is in a more conventional set. Sometimes that space can make it more challenging.
Is there something a defense can do to challenge being spread out like that?
"You have to decide what you want to provide coverage wise. You can get in (a) nickel set that are run-friendly and hold up on the coverage behind it and the ability to mix and match is what is most important."
What's the advantage of having Jairus Byrd deep on some situations? Is that to prevent big plays?
"He's probably doubling or over the top of somebody that's pretty good."
Are you aware of a possibility of Josh Gordon being available?
"We're aware of it. The only thing I have is the notes recently with the transaction with the tight end. Our pro personnel department would have it and would give us any updates. Today's Wednesday. You just have to pay attention to it. It's something we would probably find out as soon as you would."
Would you prepare for him the same way you do a questionable player on the injury report?
"Probably a little less so given that he didn't practice (today). That being said he's a very talented player. You'd want to be mindful if all of a sudden he was playing."
The Commissioner admitted he could have handled the Ray Rice situation better and some groups are saying he should be held accountable for his management of the matter. Are you in favor of the Commissioner being held accountable?
"With where we're at today and coming off a tough loss, that's like 150th on my priorities right now. Obviously I've seen the video and it's disturbing. What else can you say? I regards to the league office that's their issue to handle. For me there's too many other things right now we have to take care of."
Are you happy with how the team responded in practice today?
"Yes, absolutely. The leadership's been good. They understand it's a loss you can't get that back. They understand the quickest way to get ready for the next game is the preparation and getting on to the next opponent. It's important you don't just skip over what you did. You have to watch most of that tape and that's what we spent most of Monday on. Today's Wednesday now. All the time and energy is on Cleveland."
Do you tell your players and coaches to not overreact to that game?
"No, I don't think the message is don't overreact. The message is you have to swallow it. It doesn't go down easy, but it will go down and now you have to get back up and get ready for another tough challenge on the road."