Metairie, La. - Sean Payton is just 3-3 as head coach of the Saints when facing the Buccaneers at Raymond James stadium. The team won without him last year and now he hopes to improve his record in Tampa Bay to above .500 and start the 2013 season 2-0.
The following are Payton's comments to the media, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
How much better is Tampa Bay's secondary when you look at this year's team compared to last year's?
"I know they spent a lot of time in the offseason with the additions of a couple of players. It's week two, so it's hard to measure just off of one game. Clearly, when you add the two types of players they've added, (Dashon) Goldson and (Darrelle) Revis are two very good players we have played before with other teams. Those are two key additions."
What makes Goldson special? We know Revis gets the publicity.
"He has good instincts. He's a real good tackler. He has range to cover on the back end. He does a lot of things well."
What makes (Josh) Freeman go?
"One of the things with Josh has always been his ability to extend plays. It's been tough for us. At times you've seen him step up or flush, and what might have been a three to five yard gain might be a lot longer than that. Being good in our rush lanes are important. He has a real strong arm and real good command of their offense."
How would you assess Kenny Stills's performance in his first regular season game?
"Overall, I thought he handled his first regular season game pretty well. We're still working on some of the specifics as it refers to blocking within the running game, but he's pretty smart and knows where to get aligned. I thought (he made) a big play for us at the time. I thought overall he played pretty well."
Does the fact that the Buccaneers defense struggled against the Jets and their rookie quarterback give you any extra hope for this game?
"It's just one film that we look at. Some of the looks are different. The Jets were in and out of some wildcat, substitutional offenses. Any time you play someone this early in the season, you don't have as much tape and you have to go back and look at last year and try to put together what you think is going to be the way they defend you, and be able to adjust midstream during the game as it changes."
John Jenkins was thrust into the lineup when Brodrick Bunkley went down. Can you talk about how he played?
"The plan was to play all of those tackles inside a lot. Obviously he had more snaps with Bunkley's injury, but he's one of those guys that each week we plan on playing. I think it's important that you have a rotation for those guys up front. Overall, he handled that role well."
Can Akiem Hicks play the nose tackle position if he has to?
"Yes. We have flexibility. All during training camp we played a lot of those guys both at that position and at the end position."
Sixteen wide receivers were drafted ahead of Kenny Stills and he seems to be a major factor. Do you see a reason as to why he fell so late in the draft?
"I can't speak for any other team in regards to how they had him evaluated. We try to pay attention to our grade. We felt like he had speed and solid hands, so we liked having him. (Him) being there when we were able to select him was a good thing for us. I think we try to really try to pay attention to the area scout. We will cross check with position coaches. There are a number of grades that goes on a player. For him and for us, it worked out."
Were you hoping Mark Ingram would get off to a fresh start in week one?
"We had some tough looks though. I think that by and large that's something that we talked about just improving on in general. I wouldn't point at one player. I think, more than anything else, there were some plays there where we had some decent gains and some plays that weren't as good. It's something we will continue to work on."
Are you happy with your pass/run balance against Atlanta?
"There's no specific (number. Each game, you go in maybe with an idea of how you'd like it to unfold, but we don't set a goal as to say it's going to be one or the other. I think it;s important that you do have some balance. Some weeks it might be more than others, but I thought that from a time of possession standpoint, particularly the fourth quarter, that helped us."
What are your impressions of how Tampa Bay has changed under the Schiano regime?
"This is my first game (against him), being away a year ago. I'm sure that they are no different from anyone else trying to build a program and get the right players in there that fit what they're doing scheme-wise. I know they're coming off a tough loss with the way they lost. A division game on the road is always difficult. Playing on the road in our league is always difficult. We've got a real good challenge ahead of us."
Why have the Buccaneers always been a tough matchup for your team?
"Each year it seems like when we're playing Tampa it's a hard-fought battle. A year ago, it was a tough game in Tampa Bay (that) could've gone either way. I can recall a lot of close games, other games that maybe weren't as close. I think really, more than anything, a division opponent. In our division, these teams have all gotten better. That would be the one thing I would look at. It's a team that has always been a challenge because they're in our division; Carolina is the same way, and Atlanta."
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