New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, September 14, 2020
What was your take on this game after seeing the film? Was it kind of the same as last night?
"Well a couple things. First off, defensively, I thought we played really well. We limited the touches by Gronk (Rob Gronkowski), I thought we affected the quarterback the way we hoped to. We won the line of scrimmage we felt. There were a couple of pass interferences that were tough calls, but (I) thought overall on that side of the ball it was really good. The kicking game was outstanding. We were able to block a field goal and they turned the ball over on a short kickoff. I thought we handled the field position battle very well. Thomas (Morstead) played well with his going in punts and Deonte (Harris) was outstanding in changing field position for us. So, those areas were really good. Offensively, there were some positives. Obviously, we were able to win the game. Alvin (Kamara) played well. I put us in some tough spots. I said this after the game, especially with some run calls, there's a lot we will be able to clean up. When you look at the third down numbers, or even the red zone numbers, those are going to have to be better. But overall, it was good to get the first. There's a ton that we have to clean up and we're going to be able to here in this long week. So, overall, it was good to get the win and now it's really correcting these mistakes and then getting ready for Las Vegas."
With the short kickoff, was there something detected there by Darren Rizzi or something you guys saw that that you might be able to take advantage of?
"No, look, when you get a penalty on a scoring play, you can enforce it on the PAT try. In other words, there's some games a year ago where you might say we'll take that ball on the one yard line half the distance from the two and then try to get a two-point play. Or you can take it at the 50 (yard line) and if you take it at the 50 (yard line), do just kick it into the end zone? At that minute, you don't realize any of the penalty yards so a lot of times we'll you'll try to get a little bit of height with the kickoff and then try to gain that penalty yards, if you will, on your coverage and pin a team down in there and that was kind of the direction we were heading. The turnover was lagniappe. We were able to get on the ball. But you're trying to figure out what you want to do when there's a penalty on the scoring play like that."
2020 has already been kind of a crazy year and we asked you about a storm a few weeks ago, there's obviously another storm. Have you had discussions about going to Vegas early? Is that even possible with COVID protocols? And I guess where do you all stand?
"I think with the way the schedule sets up, it's a great question. Mickey (Loomis) and I have discussed it now at length and our plan, unless we're told otherwise, is to stay put. It's a later week schedule wise. Obviously, we're paying attention to it. Obviously, that could change, but our current plan is to stay put. What's really the first work day, the first big practice day for our guys this week is Thursday."
Were there any elements from yesterday's game that didn't take you by surprise, but I guess were a little bit surprising just by the lack of preseason games and seeing these guys in competition, all that stuff?
"The one concern I had was how would the tackling be? I thought we tackled well, defensively. I think that there's a handful of things, offensively, that quickly we have to clean up. Those guys do a good job, defensively. They got us in some tough looks. They defend the run very well and also, the times we had some big play opportunities down the field and either the protection didn't hold up, or there was something that negated an opportunity for us to get the ball down the field. But, look, it's just what we talked about during the week, what type of offense are we going to see from Tampa? I'm sure the next time we play them down the road, there'll be a lot more film to get an idea of what they're trying to do and I thought we handled that. We had some doubles in the game plan yesterday. I thought Marshon (Lattimore) was outstanding on (Mike) Evans yesterday. I thought, like I said, we handled for the most part their playmakers and I thought that was noticeable."
What kind of flexibility did you guys feel like you had with some of the dime packages and just specifically, how did you think Malcolm Jenkins played?
"Malcolm played well. He's physical, a good tackler and extremely smart. We went in with a few of these packages to help us in the passing game. P.J. (Williams) was kind of a late scratch as the week went on. And so we had to adjust a little bit there. D.J. (Swearinger) received some snaps, but overall I thought it worked out. Well. That was just part of our plan going into this game."
You had the (neck) gaiter on yesterday? How was it coaching with that? I know that coaches where masks and face shields. Will you keep that on? Will you change what you wear and just kind of how was it for you coaching with some type of face covering on?
"Yeah, listen, I think the gaiter for me was more convenient because it's easier to pull up and pull back down and as a play caller, you're wanting to pull down to communicate and then pull it back up. You kind of get used to that, like right away. I think it's up to the individual as to what they prefer. But overall, I've felt like we've kind of been used to it a little bit during training camp and that's probably the same direction I'll head."
You mentioned some of the run calls. When you're calling the game, what is the balance between when you're having a tough time running the ball against a really good front, but you also need to do it so you can run other stuff off of it?
"Yeah, it wasn't so much the decision to run it was just some of the calls that if I had to do over again, would still be runs, but a different scheme. Look, we got a little bit more zone in some of those sub situations. Some of the runs were designed more for man. So, it wasn't really the call of running the ball as much as the choice of what run and I just felt that it wasn't really good on my part. I felt that way during the course of the game, and then even afterwards now after it"
Was that split between Alvin (Kamara) and Latavius (Murray) about what you wanted or was that just the way the game flowed?
"Yeah, look, it's a good question. I think the game unfolded that way. I think week to week that might vary some. We want to utilize both of those backs and so the numbers fell out the way they did and both players I thought played well."
Looking back at the film now, did it look like they came into the game scheming around Michael Thomas and trying to take him away?
"I would not say that really. That is a fair question. I think we had an opportunity early on a third down, Mike did a great job, got behind the defense and we got sacked. We got a little bit more zone, but I'd say there have been other games against Tampa where we were we saw more of a true double on Mike and I don't feel like that necessarily was the case. I think the game unfolded the way it did and there's a handful of plays when you're watching the tape like this has a chance to be a play and for whatever reason it did not. But I think it was probably as much on us, me, ourselves relative to his involvement or lack thereof as it was a dedication by Tampa to take specifically. They did a good job and man-to-man of trying to stay in his hip. Look, some other things develop because of it, but overall we'll do a better job."
It looks like you that rolled up on at the end of the game, kind of limping off. I do not think he came back in, but could he have come back in if it had been earlier in the game? That was real late, like, a minute or two left.
"Yeah, look, it's hard to answer that hypothetical. We'll keep track and monitor how he's feeling. Always the day after a game, you've got a number of players down in the training room. Outside of that, we're not going to really touch on any of the injuries."
What kind of anticipation does Janoris (Jenkins) have? I think that's his eighth career pick-six.
"He just moved into eighth all time. He's got great instincts and ball skills. He's a smart player. He understands splits and routes and their concepts and with someone that, generally speaking, guys that are around the ball like that or find themselves around the ball like that are pretty intelligent because you have to be able to recognize formationally what plays you're trying to take away and timely he hit that. He has really good hands. It's not coincidence that he has those numbers."
I know that you've obviously celebrated the history of this organization and know the history of the NFL. I know this is a business trip and it's not a time for nostalgia, but is there something about playing first game in Vegas or seeing how that city operates, even though you won't be seeing the city, as an NFL city and kind of everything that's going to go into making them an NFL city at this point?
"Yeah, look, until you just asked the question. I hadn't really thought of it. Look, my understanding is the stadium is fantastic. It'll be unusual that the first game there will be without fans. We'll get adjusted like we did the other day. I think, yeah, until you just asked that question, when the schedule came out, you thought, oh, there'll be a couple preseason games there. And then we will figure out what the crowd noise is like when we go there. It's going to be a primetime game. But now it's still, obviously, there's a newness to a new stadium. We will get in town and have a chance to get out on the field for a light stretch. The schedule will adjust for a Monday game and then obviously the schedule the following week for a short week game, but I had not given much thought to it."