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Transcript: Coach Sean Payton weekly conference call - October 21, 2019

Coach Sean Payton speaks to media prior to Week 8

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, October 21, 2019

How did you think the offensive line played yesterday?
"I thought last night was one of their better games against a good front and I thought and I mentioned afterwards, I felt like we did a good job of neutralizing the pass rush to some extent and it's obviously a difficult team to do that against. I thought we ran the ball pretty efficiently, I was encouraged, I thought that was going to be an important part of winning that game."

How much does that speak to how well they've adapted to the way games are being officiated now?
"I think there are a handful of things. I think that is part of it and then I would also say, when you insert a new center and you are starting off the season and playing a new quarterback that can impact not only the center and the quarterback position, but that can impact the other four guys in the front, relative to your cadence, relative to what you are wanting to do with your, scheme run or pass. I just know each series finishes and you can sense a confidence in how they are playing. I think we have tremendous leadership there with Terron (Armstead), Larry (Warford), Ryan (Ramczyk) and Andrus (Peat). Those guys have all are experienced, good players and I think that I just felt that during the game yesterday."

How has Erik McCoy fit in?
"He's playing well. Some of the transition is just the nuances relative to our game and how you're handling silent count when you're on the road, how you're handling your identification of each front. Of course, there's things that are different from where he played in college to what we're doing here and then all of a sudden the transition of a quarterback, but he's made that leap or step relative to playing at this level and I just see him getting better and better."

Can you go into the genesis of that option play with Zach Line?
"Yeah, we'd run it before, he was a high school option quarterback and then obviously a halfback at SMU. But quite honestly, it's a play I learned in Dallas from Bill (Parcells) and Maurice Carthon, a play that they had run, versus a certain short yardage front. What was different yesterday was, well obviously, Teddy (Bridgewater) was at quarterback and we put Taysom (Hill) at the halfback position. There were some pieces that were different and yet overall, the scheme we've run I think a couple of times before and I mentioned my exposure to it in Dallas the first time I learned it."

Did you think Zach Line executed that pretty well?
"Outstanding. It was perfect, you're taking that correct angle down the line of scrimmage, your keep or pitch based on the (defensive) end and he had a neutral or a four playing in and he pitched it at the right time. I thought we handled the perimeter well. Mike Thomas was outstanding blocking because that's a long play and it's an alert holding call for a receiver and I thought Mike did a really good job and I thought when you watched the film, the right side of our line, we all fit in landmark blocks we needed and it was a good play for us."

How would you evaluate in the run and pass defense yesterday?
"Pretty good. We did not defend a lot of rushes, I think seven and I think that when a team becomes a little one-dimensional like that, then you're able to rush the passer and really play to one element of the game instead of two. I thought one of our keys in that game was trying to neutralize a good running back in (Tarik) Cohen and a couple of good receivers, eliminate the big play and then also take the ball away. We had two takeaways. I was very pleased with how we played defensively."

How did you think C.J. Gardner Johnson played in his first start?
"He did well and honestly I wasn't surprised. He had a real good training camp was someone that's smart and picks things up quick. He's a very fluid athlete with good ball skills and he had been playing in some of the dime packages. He's a guy can transition from safety to nickel and I was really pleased. I thought he played in that spot and some big moments at the collegiate level and the vision for the player when we drafted them was we felt like he certainly was a nickel and then someone also that could play in the sub packages and also fill in at safety."

Does C.J. Gardner Johnson's physicality help him in that spot?
"Yes, you're playing nickel in our defense, you know that you're closer to the ball and you're closer to the run game. Especially with some of these teams that are, a lot of teams we're seeing now, 20 years ago or 10 years ago, nickel might have meant past third down. I don't know that it means the same right now. I think it's a position obviously that's going to see runs. It's going to see passes. We're going to pressure from it. I think, that's one of those strengths that he has."

How pleased are you scoring as many points as you did on that Bears defense and how pleased are you with the development with Teddy Bridgewater and everyone around them?
"I said last night I was encouraged and yet I felt we left points (on the board). From a coaching perspective, we had the early blocked punt and you would have liked to scoop that up in the end zone. Of course we didn't, we got a safety from it. We had a punt return called back that had a chance to be another seven right before the half and then we had a few trips into the red zone where we came away with no points. We got a turnover (forced), I think at the 29, we missed a field goal here or there. Enough where you can look at the tape and say, man, we've got to clean some of this up. But overall, it's hard to predict going into a game like that. We have a ton of respect for Chicago. Their defense has been outstanding in the last few years and we made enough plays. Teddy did a good job. We protected the ball. Our third down numbers were good, our red zone numbers were good, but a lot of work still to do."

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