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Sean Payton talks about upcoming roster cuts, Falcons game

Quotes from Sean Payton's press conference on Friday, August 29, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Local Media Availability
Friday, August 29, 2014

Opening Statement: "We just finished meeting as a team, this would be kind of like our in season Monday schedule, the day after.  The players have been lifting, they will watch the film, and we will get the corrections made, some easy observations after watching the tape.  The two areas that stood out, we really struggled offensively on third down and when you have a game like that time of possession, really that shifts in favor of your opponent.  I think defensively against the zone scheme and those are the two things that stood out and then our inability on offense to stay on the field.  A lot of guys received a lot of different looks, a lot of snaps.   We will begin, we already begun, but we will continue through today and tonight with regards to the roster and kind of go from there.  We will announce those decisions I know as soon as possible."

What is it like for those guys that are on the bubble?

"I'm sure it varies. I'm sure it's difficult. Just that wanting to know and look, there's a lot invested by every one of those guys, a lot of work and a lot's gone into putting themselves in a position to make a team and stick.  Just that alone and you know there's not a finality if you will of it, a lot of these players will have opportunities, practice squad and with other teams.  We always talk, from the very beginning, when you're playing you're putting your product out there, not only for the team you're on, but for the 31 other teams.  Our scouts are paying close attention to the other teams just as I'm sure they are.  This is always a difficult time."

You talk a lot about how it is not just about them playing for your team and how it is about 31 other teams as well.

"It's a big picture and I will give you an example.  It can be very easy just to focus on the depth chart in your position room and as you are doing that the team might be looking at other players in that position on other teams that might be, so it is bigger than just a depth chart on your own team."

When we talk to the guys they have a singular focus of playing here.

"Absolutely, and I think it's your resume and I think every one of those guys want to make an impression.  And certainly with the amount of time they have on what we are doing, this is a program that they want to play for and we understand that. But every year, at times, a player all of a sudden finds himself with another team and the other team saw something that they liked on tape.  That's the business side of it."

Is this unique for you to not know the Falcons as well as you used to?

"I said this a year ago, I think the rivalries exist in college football and I mean that. I think division games in the NFL exist.  When you play a team twice be it Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa, you become much more familiar with them and not only do you play them twice, you play them twice every year.  I think that each one of these games in the division, particularly Atlanta, often times comes down to the final drive, in last years games and I am sure it will on Sunday.  So it comes down to that one specific play that you need on short yardage or that one goal line defensive stand or offensive opportunity, you just don't know when that is going to be or what part of the game it is going to come in, but that will be something that will be a big part of, especially winning on the road."

Is it important to not let the Falcons back in this race for the division in week one?

"Well there is not a race yet, number one.  Yeah, would you want to get off to a good start and win the first game of the season?  Yes."

Have you come across a scenario where you want a player to be on the practice squad and they get offered a spot on the 53-man roster on another team and they decide to stay here?

"That has happened.  It typically, well it wouldn't happen this time of the season, in other words, a player gets waived and claimed, there is not choice there. Typically when that might happen would be during the year and a team might have a need and come to a player on the practice squad.  It is hard for that to happen because often times it involves more money, a contract that is different than that of a practice squad contract, but nonetheless though, that has happened.  It just doesn't happen that often."

When they decided to expand the practice squad, did you pass that along with the players?

"I think everyone saw that at the same time.  I think you guys, our players, I know myself, all of us that afternoon, it seemed like it was floated first as if it might happen and then within 24 hours or maybe a day later it seemed like it was confirmed.  I don't know if there is anyone that would view that as a negative.  I think for the players it is a positive.  I think for us as an organization it is a positive and it gives us a chance to develop two more players and hopefully get those guys in a position where they can be on the active roster.  The one thing we do every year, next week we will put up, not just the Saints, but we'll put up 100 names of really good NFL players, all of which that have been on practice squads in the last 10 years.  We'll do that study for them and when you look at the list, every one of us would look at it and myself right now included where you would see five or six names that you would not even have known were on a practice squad at one time.  I think it is important that there is a vision a player has when he gets to that position and honestly, you guys are around them, that is a designation, but at that point, they are on this team.  Obviously they are not playing on game day, but we have a handful of players that are on the roster that are inactive for games, so they are very much part of the team.  Look, you take 10 of them and a handful of those guys are going to be on the active roster at some point during the season, a lot of it is based on injury."

How hard will be the kicker cut?

"Just like the others, I mean, it will be something that obviously we have spent a lot of time on, but it would be no different."

How fortunate do you feel about having Marques Colston for nine years now?

"I think it is unique.  I think it is a credit to Marques.  He's one of the more competitive guys.  He's quiet and obviously when you get to know him and you see him, you recognize how important it is to him.  Walking off the field last year in Seattle after the playoff loss, I just happen to be behind him as we were filing into the locker room and I will just never forget him taking his fist and hitting the cinderblock wall with a square punch.  I don't know how much damage he did to his fingers at that time, he would probably be able to tell you, but it wasn't an open hand.  It matters a lot to him.  You wouldn't get necessarily a communication.  He is not someone that's going to come out and speak a lot, but as far as dependability, reliability, no one, the assignments and then coming up in games where he's got to make a play over the middle and extend himself, he's been outstanding and I don't take it for granted."

What is it about your program that has allowed your teams to come out fast?

"Each season is different, 2006 we were on the road for a couple of games while the Dome was getting done and we were able to win two away games and then come back and win at home.  In 2007 we lost four in a row to start and had to kind of rally to dig ourselves out of a hole.  A lot of it is, I think it is important and I am not going into next week already, but we are all in a race to improve, even off the preseason.  It is not going to be about to scheme, it is going to be about us improving our technique and us improving our fundamentals.  And from this point in time before we play Atlanta and then very quickly right after Atlanta, where we play our second game, the ability for our players to make corrections and make permanent corrections, most often they're technique corrections.  There is urgency there and that is one thing we kind of talk about, but look, if you really go back, we've had, in 2011, the opening game loss in Green Bay, it varies.  Each team is different (each year)."

What are the logistics organizationally to go through all the names coming off waivers?

"It is a good question.  It is pretty comprehensive trying to cross scout teams and so obviously there are two elements to scouting, there is the college-scouting department that basically is looking at college players and the minute draft day comes there is someone else's department, it becomes pro personnel's department.  I think there is a little all hands on deck with regards to this time of the year and assigning scouts, not only teams.  The other thing is certain positions.  You can begin to try and hone in on positions you might value based on your current roster.  We've been active in the claim market before.  I think it is really not going in with the idea we are just going to claim a player at this position, but identifying a certain player that if he came available.  It is challenging because of the amount."

Is there any way you can forecast how rosters are going to shake out?

"Yeah, I think with our scouting department, they could go through 31 teams right now and kind of tell you hey, here are some guys just based off on the depth that we think will be available.  They do that and they will label them.  There is always a few surprises, but I think if they study the depth chart and then if you study the playing time pattern, you can begin to, just as you guys do our roster, you can begin to make assumptions and they are not 100 percent accurate, but you can begin to, at some degree of certainty, begin to look at where a roster might be going."

Do you chalk up how to stop the run to some of the younger players after watching last night?

"Listen, a couple of things, Baltimore did a great job.  Gary's (Kubiak) always had a real good zone scheme and he is now their offensive coordinator.  I know Juan Castillo, their line coach.  They are very well coached. There's a speed and a landmark element that if you don't get accustomed to very quickly then it can make you look silly.  Look, I just finished saying in the team meeting, you have to learn something from every game and we are going to play that team again sometime.  I think having played them and seeing the importance of the backside defenders with regards to their fits.  The nose tackle staying off the ground, there are a lot of things that I think contributed to that and it wouldn't just be young players."

When was the first time you talked about Pierre Warren?

"Hmm, probably in a meeting with Ryan (Pace).  I want to say later winter/spring.  I am just trying to, it would be hard to know.  But I am sure it would have been in a meeting with Ryan Pace."

Can you talk about how well Pierre Warren is doing?

"He has good ball skills.  I think that he is smart.  You have seen him in the preseason break on a handful of plays.  The play last night was significant.  When you launch a ball that far down the field, that high in the air, I think when you watch the tape he high points it at the right spot.  It is easy to jump early or be late.  At the end you are looking for results so it was a good play by him.  Special teams, those are other areas that will be a big part of today and tomorrow's decision for all of the clubs.  With Pierre, he has done a lot of good things."

Can you talk about how you wanted to emphasize turnovers this offseason and how you have done a pretty good job of that this preseason?

"It is still a work in progress.  There's snaps still in practice where a ball might be on the ground and you want all 11 getting to it quicker.  That would be a specific that I just talked about with regards to improvement constantly really paying attention to the details and what will make a difference in winning and losing.  I can't tell you the game and I couldn't have told you in 2009 (Robert) Meachem was going to be the guy chasing down a safety, striping the ball out and then taking it the other way and single handedly anyone that was there for that game would say that obviously if there was one play that turned that game or even honestly got us into the game, we really didn't play well enough to win, it would be that play.  We will put together a cutup of things and every once and a while these are difference makers that can, they don't happen if you don't try with the effort you need 100 percent of the time.  They don't happen.  And there is no 100 percent certainty that it is going to happen or that it is going to have an impact on the game, but we do know that if it doesn't happen then it has no chance.  Malcolm's (Jenkins) play a few years ago down in Tampa, those are away from the ball effort plays that usually any good defense buys into."

Is this the longest day of the preseason for you and your staff because you really have to put together the roster?

"I don't know that it's the longest day. It's a different day. A lot of this work, every evening there's discussion on certain spots. It's a difficult part of the training camp process because these are guys that you've built relationships with and worked with. As coaches, you get attached and you want to see them do well."

In this process, how much input do position coaches have when they're really fighting for a guy in their group?

"I think when we meet, which is pretty much on a daily basis, often times we will discuss how the positions are going, how the players are playing. Occasionally there might be a strong sentiment for one player. Hopefully that's taking place throughout the week and we're able to then, no different than last night, get certain players another 40 or more snaps to help us answer a question…if that makes sense. So they're part of the process, and yet just one part."

Do you ever see in Drew Brees the quarterback you wish you could've been? Is that why your communication level is so close?

"It would've been good to be Drew, right? My job is that of a teacher, and when it comes in regards to any of our players or our coaches, is (to) give these guys the best opportunity to be successful. The reward for the teacher is always when the students receive A's, which is an analogy I've used before, when they're excelling and doing well. That's very gratifying and generally that means you're winning. To be going on year nine now – season eight for me – and to have that consistency and to have that competitive player at that position and someone that is so talented and so driven, that helps keep you young. There's nothing that takes place during the week that would surprise you. There will be something each day or some little thing that he will do, and never do we or do I take that for granted. It actually inspires the people around you. When they talk about a player making other players around him really really good, I think that takes place. But I think they also inspire coaches."

He said he wants to play until he's 45. In ten more years, can y'all ride off into the sunset together?

"I'm just thinking about (20)14 right now…just this season."

How would you summarize this preseason?

"I thought overall (it went) pretty well. There wasn't a practice cancelled because of weather. I thought that three week process in West Virginia was outstanding and most of you were there to cover it. I thought the climate was significant. We saw a big reduction in our soft tissue injuries. In fact, coming back is when we really have to make sure we're taking more time with the breaks. Hydration is key; we felt like that number went up a little bit back here. We were inside for a couple of days; I thought the opportunity to go over to the Northshore and looking next year to take that somewhere else… Overall I was pleased with the way we handled it. In a lot of ways, that's kind of how teams travel. In a week and a half here, or less than that, we're going to be on a plane to Atlanta and checking into a hotel, getting your room key. You've got to be able to do all that and then get your mind right to play. We've always handled that type of adjustment. Now that wasn't as much as an adjustment as it was very planned, but I was pleased."

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