Sean Payton Press Conference Transcript: 9.21.09

From WWL.

Opening Statement:

"With the injuries from yesterday, I mentioned Lance Moore's hamstring. The good news today is that it doesn't seem real significant at all. We'll see where he's at on Wednesday. Mike Bell has a sprained MCL. Again, the news on his knee was positive. I don't want to put a time frame on it. I really won't know it until Wednesday, but it's a lot less severe than maybe we anticipated. I don't know what that does for his status this week. It's only Monday right now. The doctors seem to feel pretty good about the nature of that injury. Those are the two players we talked about after the game. Kendrick Clancy we ended up putting Remi (Ayodele) up on the active list in place of Kendrick because he was healthier. Kendrick was still fighting through the injury from the week before."

Is this one of the most complete games your team has put together here during your tenure?

"We've played some good games in the past. When you win on the road against a team like Philadelphia, you have to do some things. You have to do certain things. It happened last night when you watched the Giants and Cowboys. You watch one team turn the ball over and one team protect the ball. Ultimately, the team that protected the ball better won the game. In our case, the same thing. We felt like that was necessary on the road to have a chance to win that game, that we needed to win that battle and in our case we did with four turnovers to one, finishing plus three. There's a lot we still have to improve on. By no means was it the perfect game. There are a lot of things watching the tape that really concern you and I think our players will see it today. We're still looking to get better in a lot of areas. We gave up a big play on defense. We talked about that being something we couldn't do against this team. We gave up a big return on our coverage units and that was disappointing. Offensively, we had a couple of protection issues and certainly the one turnover. There are a lot of things we have to work on. The good news is that we have a week to do it in preparation for another good team.

Can you talk about the positives of being 2-0 while keeping in mind the things that need to improve?

"We've played two games and there's a ton of football left. Our focus has definitely has to be on improving and correcting the mistakes and the things we have to do to become a better team. When the players get back on Wednesday, certainly everything shifts to Buffalo and again, another team that we're not as familiar with given that we're in the AFC, but we're going to have to be and again, another tough place to play on the road.

Are there always things to improve on?

"There are always things. There are a lot of things that aren't good right now that we have to work on. That's what we're pointing out, that's why we're meeting today and that's why we're going through the tape. Those things in big games can really derail you and keep you from going where you want to go and whether they appear on offense, the kicking game or defense, those are the things we have to pay close attention to. The idea that you just won and everything's all rosy is really not true. There are a lot of things that it's important coming off that game to make the corrections. We did a lot of things well. I mentioned the turnovers. That was important. I thought we came up with a big play in the kickoff coverage unit at the start of the second half. That led to a touchdown, gave us a plus 11 swing and gave us some momentum there. I thought that was very, very important. I thought we handled Trent Cole well, the defensive end who's a real good football player, same way defensively, I thought we got in check with some of the oddball looks we were getting and we hit and affected their quarterback enough. But it's the other things we've talked about and a number of things that we need to continue to work on."

Were you kind of pleasantly surprised to see how much the defensive mindset seems to have changed in creating turnovers?

"I think we saw that begin to develop in the preseason. It's what wins in our league and even Malcolm Jenkins came up with a big play on the special teams kickoff coverage and you look at the interceptions, those things give you another possession, give you an extra time with the ball and take away one with the defense. It's hard to win games when you're not winning that battle in an area that we have certainly paid attention to and we have to."

Besides what we have seen of Darren Sharper, what do you think of him so far?

"He's smart. He's a player that understands the scheme. I thought he got his weight down this offseason and came in in good shape. There are a number of things that a player like Darren brings to the team in regards to his experience and it's a different defense for him, so there's a learning curve he worked through in the spring. He's done a good job. He has three turnovers in two games and is playing with a lot of confidence. There are a number of things he has to continue to work on though and within the framework of what we're doing defensively that can maybe eliminate some things in the future, some big plays in the future. He's doing well.

Sharper says that what he sees on film study has really helped him in the games in terms of visualizing some tendencies. Is that something you agree with?

"I think that the ally to good defense is always formation play recognition. We try offensively to combat that and change looks, but defensively you try to get a read on what you see formationally. That's a plus when you're a defensive player and you have an idea of what's coming based on your experience in that game or on film study.

Is the yardage allowed one of the things that need to be cleaned up?

"The total yards aren't as concerning as the big plays. In other words, a lot of those yards come in different situations. What's most important is your scoring defense, your scoring offense, how you're taking care of the football and are you minimizing the big plays and offensively getting them. That's just one aspect; there are a number of things that I think we can do better. But we'll meet on it today and go back to work Wednesday - that's the plan."

If Mike Bell's injury keeps him out, is Pierre Thomas ready to handle a full workload?

"We'll see. We'll see Wednesday where (Bell) is at and kind of gauge where Pierre is at as well."

From a coach's perspective, what's working on offense right now?

"We've had a little bit of balance. In both games, we've been able to have some balance running the ball and throwing the football. I think we're doing a good job of handling some different looks defensively in regards to protections. Drew has been pretty sharp when you look at his decision-making. Those are some of the things that after two weeks, you'd say have looked pretty good. I'm pleased with the balance that we have gotten in both games and by and large we're taking care of the football, although we've stilled turned it over and that's something that we need to get better at."

What kind of contributions have you gotten from your draft picks? Do you expect Malcolm Jenkins to play more?

"He's playing a lot of snaps now and depending on personnel groupings on defense each week, you'll see different sets with him rotating in. He's had two big impact plays two weeks in a row; last week he chased down a kick return and made a tackle inside the 10-yard line and we ended up holding that series to a field goal so that's a four-point play and then yesterday the caused fumble that results in a touchdown is a seven-point play, so there's 11 points that you'd look at specifically and say he has accounted for in two games, and that's pretty significant. Thomas Morstead has done a great job in the first two games. There are still some things that he's working on from a consistency standpoint, the kickoff locations. But he has a strong leg and obviously he helps with the swing in field position."

Do you expect teams to try and blitz more with the success that Drew Brees is having?

"We got pressure yesterday, and I think with any quarterback that is playing well you end up seeing teams not give you a single dose of one thing but to try to change it up. That has usually been a formula that a lot of teams have had but it varies based on the team we're playing. It just depends on what their philosophy is, but yesterday Philadelphia gave us a handful of pressures. (Brees) gets rid of it quickly. The key for us is having a good week of practice and understanding the defense that we're playing."

When you spread people out, is it more difficult for them to be able to put pressure on?

"I think a lot of it is that a lot of times when you're spread out, it's easier to recognize what you're going to get. And yet you can take a game like yesterday when the Jets and Patriots played and regardless of whether they were spread out or in tight, you saw a lot of pressures that were effective. The key is really to work that whole week and make sure that you have a good plan. Quarterback play starts with protection and making sure the line is on the same page and the running backs are on the same page. All those things come from having the right plan, not only in your base but in your nickel because everyone is pressuring the three-receiver sets now. You just have to understand how they're pressuring. It's not a question of if you're going to get pressured anymore, it's how they're going to overload you and having the right plan."

Is Heath Evans opening up the offense even more?

"Heath has had a couple of good plays for us and I said this in the offseason when we acquired Heath, the first goal was to improve our run blocking at the point of attack. I read a number of stories where it was because of his versatility where really we felt like we were getting a better blocker, number one. Number two, he is versatile and has come up with some big plays. The screen play was big a week ago and then yesterday on the naked bootleg. More importantly as we grade out the tape right now, he's fitting well in the running game and that is helping our run game a lot which is something that's reason one why he's here."

How did Scott Shanle play yesterday?

"He had a big game. The turnover that he had was significant. He was very productive. He's a good football player and it's good to see him really start off well. He did a good job yesterday."

Have you had the conversation with your team already that they've only won two games and there's a long way to go or do you even need to have that conversation with a veteran group?

"I think they're smart enough to understand how long the season is and really we just talked about getting the corrections made today. Let's make sure we get the corrections - and we put a couple of examples of plays up there that can't happen, and they were plays in yesterday's game. They were examples of what we're coaching and what we're looking for. We went through the numbers, we talk about the team awards and then we move on to the special teams and then offensive and defensive part of it. By day's end, you put closure on the game and that's really where we're at. The focus Wednesday shifts real quickly to Buffalo and for a lot of these guys it will be Tuesday when they come in to watch early tape. I think they're sharp enough to figure it out."

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