New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Are you having to do anything differently as far as the bye week with the COVID protocols, is it different this time around?
"Well, the difference is everyone's in town, so we'll take advantage of it. But the schedule is a little different, because we are coming off a Monday game. We are in here today, players are in here today. They will be back on Monday for a practice. Meanwhile, as coaches, we'll look at kind of a handful of things that we want to improve on and then begin that process when they return. So there are a couple elements that are different."
Is the Monday practice an additional one you normally didn't have in the past?
"No Monday, we would always have a bonus day on the opponent. It's pretty normal."
With back to back double digit come back wins, has it reinforced what you felt like you already knew about this team or did it teach you something new?
"Well, I think there's good and bad to the question. You know, I think that, there's a resiliency that was important in both of those wins. You know, they weren't perfect games by any means. Certainly not in the early part of the game. But yet, the second half, fourth quarter, we managed to do what was necessary to get the win. I think that, you know, you're always looking at it glass, half empty, half full, but yet, we're still in this race to improve. And we have to and there has to have, you have to add that sense of urgency, as we start playing better teams."
How would you kind of assess what the organization has done handling all the COVID protocols? And kind of avoiding some of the issues that have kind of cropped up around the league?
"Yeah, look, I think we've done an outstanding job. And I'm sure by and large, everyone else around the league is working their tails off. But, I think you know, we spent a lot of time discussing how we wanted to handle it and it's challenging and it's not something that in a week or in a month, say hey, pat yourself on the back, it's gone away, it's kind of ever present, so. So far, we feel like we've done all the specific things required, but then a lot more."
I think you mentioned in past bye weeks about the, you know, the things you want to improve, but is this, you know, kind of a go back to basics, to kind of tighten up the things that you feel like you guys aren't doing?
"I think so. I said this to the coaches yesterday and again today, look, we got to look closely at everything in the details. We're 3-2 and yet we just have to improve situationally in a lot of areas. And the good news is we've got time to do it. But that's going to require the honest evaluation of hey, are we doing things the right way? Are we calling it the right way? Are the right people on the field? We have to answer those questions without any objectivity."
Adam Trautman was down for this game and I know Cesar Ruiz and Zack Baun's playing time has sort of come along gradually. Is that just coincidental with those three guys? Or do you think it has been hard for rookies to get in the mix?
"No, that's completely coincidental. Zack Baun played more in this game I think than he had to date. Trautman was more about what we wanted to do, relative to the tight ends and the run or passing game."
What have you thought about Teddy Bridgewater, so far in Carolina?
"I have seen highlights. We saw a little bit of the film that they played because of the Charger crossover. He's doing well. It's good to see him doing well and it's not a surprise. We'll have a chance now to dive into their film. But listen, he's a fantastic leader, a real good player and you wish he had gone out of the division."
How much did you feel when you guys traded for him that he would be in the to maybe follow Drew (Brees)? And then how much did you guys pursue him this offseason in maybe that even though you knew it would probably be difficult?
"The timing this offseason was going to be difficult, period. Like that, just sometimes you can't control that relative to his opportunity, and to where we were. But yes, when you bring a player into the building, you are bringing them in for a number of reasons. And, again, we felt like he was a young talented quarterback, that the biggest question was his health and we felt like we saw or that was answered in the preseason. We're in that business, that we think that we can develop that position and I think that's important."
Matt Rhule said Teddy was one of the smartest quarterbacks he has ever been around. How much of that was a character trait that stood out with Teddy?
"Oh, definitely, there are a ton of things. He's a very good leader, he's witty, he's got a smile about him. And he's easy to follow. Players want to follow him. He picks things up real fast. All the above. Those are all traits that have served him well."
He likely is it that you all will actually end up having to go to LSU to play games, and if so, what are some of the challenges of logistically of that?
"I don't think there will be many. I don't think there'll be many challenges. It's right up the road. You'd be playing on grass outside in a great environment. If it was playing it in the dome (Mercedes-Benz Superdome) with no fans or playing up there with 25,000 of our fans, then every one of us would make the second choice. So we would embrace it."
After looking at the film, what did you think of Sheldon Rankins' game?
"I thought he played pretty well. One of his better games this year. I was encouraged."
That was both in the run and the pass?
"Yeah, he had a good game. He graded out well. I thought we had a good rotation going with those guys inside. But he was one of the guys that we came away from with a pretty consistent grade."
I guess kind of a similar question by Marcus Davenport. He only played about 30% of the snaps.
"Yeah, made some impact. He definitely had a handful of good rushes. Our plan was to play him right at that number count. It was his first game back. Those snaps will gradually increase. Trey (Hendrickson's) playing well. We've got to just continue to grind on the pressure package. And whether it's coming from a three man rush or four man rush or pressure."
Back to the LSU plan, just with the bye week this week and then a home game the following week, is there a set date that you'll need to get it worked out by?
"Yeah, you're talking to the wrong person."
I had to ask somebody.
"No, I'm with you. But I would say this, though: To me, that would be exciting."
I know you talked last week about the red zone defense, obviously, three more scores down there this week. What has been the biggest issue there?
"Well, it's not one specific thing. But that's certainly one of the things we're discussing and that I think needs (to be) looked at. I think you we're far enough in now where it's not a coincidence, the numbers aren't a coincidence. The communication relative to what we're doing in coverage, our ability to stop the run inside five yards. And then I would say most specifically, our third down numbers in the red zone are not good and typically third down is a really a four point play down there. If you can get off the field there, they're kicking a field goal. We haven't forced many field goals right now."
Have multiple of the deep balls been sort of a missed assignment or miscommunication or is it then more of you prefer they were played differently in the first place?
"No, listen, it's communication. It's communication number one. It's one thing if a player's catching a contested ball, we are not talking about that. We are talking about a player being wide open, right? And so, two different throws last week were uncontested, communication issues and things we have to look at. We've got to look at that as coaches. It's hard for someone to be that open in our league. So what are we doing? What aren't we communicating? And how can we be more efficient when we play a certain defense?"