Sean Payton Press Conference Transcript

Opening Statement:

"In going through the grades on the game with our staff there were a lot of positives. Some of the most important things we¹ve tried to correct and clean up in regards to the turnovers and penalties, those were some obvious ones. I thought we did a pretty good job in time of possession, comparing our ability to stay on the field in third down. There were a lot of third and shorts for us and we were able to take advantage of that. We used some spontaneous, at the line calls, maybe a little bit more than we had in the past and I thought that helped us. I thought defensively, we played with real good energy and effort. We graded out that way when you looked at the tape and we came up with two big turnovers. It was a good team win and again, I was pleased with our effort and concern going in since it was a short week, but I was pleased overall with how we responded. We ended up coming out of it pretty healthy for the guys that played in the game. I don¹t have any injury notes coming out of that game. We¹ll look at the status with these other guys and look at how quickly they¹re able to come back for Carolina, but I do expect to see more of (Jeremy) Shockey and (Marques) Colston and the question is just how much more."

Have you ever been around a quarterback who has played this well?

"I don¹t think so. He¹s playing at a very high level with a lot of confidence, operating very efficiently. When you look at yesterday¹s tape and his decision-making against a team that we felt had pretty good personnel, especially in the secondary. He did a good job of executing the plan. He¹s playing with a lot of confidence protecting the ball. It¹s good to see. He works extremely hard at that. I think a little bit of that feeds off to the players surrounding him."

Do you think there was a different level of concentration coming off of the Monday night game and the result and do you think that level could be repeated?

"Some of it is points of emphasis more than it is a specific drill. We try to pay attention to the turnovers and actually have some drills in practice

that emphasize taking the ball away or protecting it. I think it starts with me and starts with our staff that we can never grow tired of that lesson or that objective, because it¹s so telling. I watched the statistics like most of you do yesterday and yesterday evening, they come up at time to time again in the games. With the 11 or so possessions you receive, with each turnover, if you went back yesterday you¹d find the same thing. You¹d find the teams that won the turnover battle and didn¹t make the mistakes and they probably won the game."

Can you talk about the play of Jason David?

"I thought he played real well this week. He graded out well. He¹s been aggressive. He came up with a big turnover and I mentioned yesterday that it put us up three scores and was a significant play in the game. He¹s doing well. He has good anticipation. I¹m happy for him. I¹m happy to see him playing with confidence. That helps us as a team."

Did Jeremy Shockey tweak anything in practice last week?

"No. It was the first time out since the surgery. Every time there¹s the first time out, there¹s some soreness the next day because it¹s the first time that you¹re really going out and breaking up the scar tissue, so he seems to be doing well. I¹m anxious to see how he does Wednesday and Thursday, given that this the second day that you¹re really going out and breaking up the scar tissue. He seems to be doing well. I¹m anxious to see how he does Wednesday and Thursday this time around given that it¹s the second week. All the signs are positive that he¹s doing well. I know he¹s anxious to get back and not have him standing next to me with a towel in his hand, hopefully it¹s this week."

Was he a bodyguard out there for you at the end of the first half?

"I don¹t know. It wasn¹t part of the plan. He just kind of invited himself. He¹s into it. It¹s important to him and I like that about him."

Is the efficiency and distribution of touches in your offense a surprise given the absences of Colston and Shockey?

"It¹s encouraging. You¹re going to have injuries and our expectation level doesn¹t change and so the players that do play, we have a high expectation for. We don¹t know how many or when the injuries occur. You always hope they¹re to a minimum. But I think those players involved in the passing game understand how Drew (Brees) operates. They don¹t want to be the one in the wrong spot, running the wrong route or not at the right depth. They also understand the ball will come to them. Sean Ryan had a couple of catches yesterday and he¹s been here a week. I just think the importance of those guys painting the right picture for the quarterback of where they need to be and doing their job is paramount. If they do that, then I think he¹ll find them, if the reads suggest it."

Randall Gay said that the reason the defense is starting to play better is that individuals are starting to understand what they do best and playing to their strengths as well as raising their own expectations. Do you agree?

"I think it's easy to just grab the statistics each week and say this is what this defense isn¹t doing or doing, but if you looked at how they played Minnesota, you¹d say they played the run pretty well. We try to stay away from the statistical talk and the rankings, but I thought they played with real good effort. I thought they tackled well yesterday and certainly are gaining confidence. I think Jonathan Vilma each week continues to improve and is a leader in there of the defense and so that¹s encouraging, because we have ten games left in 11 weeks. We have a lot of football here and we just have to work on each week improving as a team, improve this week a little bit more than we did last week. If we can do that, our chances each week of winning will go up and if we continue to take care of the football like we did last weekend, our chances of winning go up. Most important is just trying to improve. I think you see that on defense. I think you¹re right."

Would a victory at Carolina give you a clean slate for the final nine games?

"I don¹t think we¹re trying to get a clean slate. It¹s tough. You¹re 3-3.There are some tough losses in there. It¹s certainly easier for me to sit in here on Monday after a win like yesterday. Obviously we all understand the importance of next week¹s game and just as Carolina does. It¹s a division game in a division right now where a lot of teams are clumped together at the top and I think very competitively. There¹s a stretch for us of a month and a week where we¹re on the road and we¹ve played well on the road before. I think we¹ve traveled pretty well. The focus just has to be on Carolina this week, not on London, not on anything other than that, just on Carolina. I thought in a short time period we were able to do that this week on Oakland and quickly kind of get over that Monday night game and shift our focus to the Raiders. I thought we were able to do that."

Is there a noticeable difference in the confidence level of Jason David?

"I think he¹s someone who has played on good teams. He won a Super Bowl a couple of years ago. He has good ball skills and good awareness and good

change of direction. That¹s what makes him dangerous, because he can catch the ball and break on it. I think when you have a young quarterback who looks down his target for too long and ends up throwing late to a receiver you end up with a play like that where he gets a jump on it and makes the interception. I think he¹s a pretty confident player. I think he has confidence in his skills. I think he played very well yesterday besides the interception. He had a lot of good snaps. I thought we played a lot of man principles and did a good job with that."

With the fact that Tampa was able to shut down Carolina¹s offense, was there anything you were able to glean from the tape?

"Not having gotten to some of that tape yet from Carolina-Tampa, it did seem that Carolina turned the ball over. Gary (Gibbs) and his staff will pay close attention to that game. There are some similarities to what Tampa does defensively and with what we do in regards to scheme and then to just best apply what our best plan is to defend Carolina. Certainly you¹re seeing a good team that¹s receiving good play at quarterback. They¹re explosive with

the receivers. Steve Smith¹s an outstanding player. It would be too early to go in depth into our gameplan with Carolina given that it hasn¹t really started yet. The scouting report information starts coming this afternoon. We study the tape all afternoon and morning and then tomorrow the same way and probably mid-morning tomorrow we start putting the plan together, but I know Gary and those guys on defense will pay close attention to the game. It was a game where it sounded like Tampa had some success and did a good job."

Did the result of the Carolina-Tampa Bay game shock you or does nothing shock you in this league?

"No, it wasn¹t shocking. When you watch some of the finishes yesterday and you watch Chicago up with 11 seconds left and squib kick it and Atlanta comes up with a big play and kicking a game-winning field goal, I guess nothing really does surprise you. The challenge of winning in our league is difficult because every team you play is capable of beating you and every team you play is talented with players at certain positions that are dangerous and generally if you make more mistakes, you end up on the losing end of the game."

Do you wish Carolina wasn¹t coming off a loss like they just had going into your game?

"They¹re a good team to begin with and I think John (Fox) will have those guys ready. He does a good job of managing that team when they¹re winning or if they¹re coming off a loss. He¹ll have them ready to play and I think our players will understand the importance of playing well in this game, especially on the road in a tough environment. It¹s a great challenge for us."

Were you pleased with the offense run/pass balance yesterday?

"Yes. The one thing that was evident was that we were in a lot of third-and-ones, third-and-twos, third-and-threes, and it becomes easier then with your play selection rather than being in longer-yardage situations. I liked our efficiency running the football. I thought Deuce did a good job with his touches. I thought Oakland got tired, just from watching the tape and I certainly felt that way yesterday. There were about six or seven plays where we were snapping the ball and they weren¹t aligned or set or ready. I thought the tempo was good and that was important."

Does Jonathan Vilma ever talk to you about coming out of the game?

"He stays on. I don¹t think he wants to come out or has a desire to. There are those every-down players on defense and he would be considered one of

those."

Vilma said yesterday that when gets a lot of tackles it¹s because of the defensive line. Is that just modesty?

"There is probably some. He¹s playing very well. He as much as anyone understands the nature of the scheme and as a mike linebacker in this defense, he¹s going to have those opportunities. He¹s doing real well. He¹s playing physical. There¹s a lot mentally that goes into what he has to do. He¹s the quarterback of the defense so his alignments and his fits, his recognition and ability to get us in and out of the right defense sometimes formationally ­he¹s doing a great job with it."

You took out an ad in the paper. Was that a message to the fans?

"It was really just in thanks of the support for the event that we had that ended up being sold out. Literally there were no more tablecloths, silverware or anything. We had over 1,200 people there. From everyone who worked it at the Superdome all the way down to the various people that were on the committees, it was neat to see it come together and it ended up being a fantastic success. We raised a lot of money for a lot of good causes and we¹re excited about that. It was really a way for us to thank everyone involved because it¹s impossible to try to get to everyone. From the person that just bought the single ticket to the groups that bought tables, it was an unbelievable night. (It was to thank them for) their support in making that happen and certainly the support that we¹ve had as a team here recently. They have about a month here to get rested. I think it¹s five weeks before we play at home again on Monday night. It was just a sign of appreciation."

Did the near-11-minute drive in the second quarter lay the foundation for the team¹s performance yesterday?

"I think it helped us. Number one, it kept them on the field for a while and it was a pivotal point in the game where we all of a sudden felt like they were tiring a little bit. Our guys on offense felt that and you could see it on the tape. Any time you can keep your defense off the field ­ it was almost a quarter¹s worth of a drive ­ it¹s significant. And most importantly, you¹re scoring a touchdown off of that and not just a field goal. There are some things that come with a long drive like that. I¹ve been on the other end of it where you just sit and watch for 11 minutes, that¹s difficult and that¹s when you felt that game turn a little bit. Early on we were three and out and then they were able to march down and kick the field goal, but I thought it was significant.²

Is that the longest drive you¹ve had since you¹ve been here?

"I don¹t know. I thought we had one a couple years ago against Philadelphia that was pretty long. It¹s hard to keep track."

Will you test Sedrick Ellis out this week?

"We¹ll see where he is. I¹m anxious to see Wednesday how he feels. His treatment has gone well and his rehab has gone well. He¹s a guy that I maybe don¹t feel as confident about as I do with Jeremy (Shockey) and Marques (Colston), but we¹ll see."

Is Antwan Lake the same way?

"Same way."

Could you give a progress report on Reggie Bush?

"He¹s having a good season. You guys have heard me talk about his offseason. I think he has matured a lot and really has come on for us. He¹s in great shape; he¹s taking care of his body. His attention to detail and all those things have been pluses. You see him doing his job in the kicking game, as a receiver, as a runner. He¹s a guy that wants to be competitive and wants to win and improve and he has done a good job of taking coaching. I think he's having a very good year. He had a great offseason and I¹ve been real encouraged with what I¹ve seen and I¹m happy for him."

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