Metairie, La. - The Saints are 3-0 for the third time under Sean Payton but the team and head coach are downplaying the undefeated start.
The following are Payton's comments to the media, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Opening Statement: "This week is going to be a little different. Players will be in tomorrow for weights and film review. They will be off on Wednesday and then we will pick up on Thursday with technically our first day of base. Then we will go Thursday, Friday, Saturday, much like we would a normal week, only one day later."
Can you talk about how guys have stepped up on defense?
"We had a good rotation going on inside and I think that helps when you get some healthy bodies going. I think it is a hard position to play to begin with, especially if you are on the field a lot. We've had a number of players playing the linebacker position depending on the package we are in. I thought overall the team defense was very good. After the first drive we settled in, and the third down statistic we thought was going to be important and it was."
We talk a lot about the defensive line; can you talk about the secondary?
"They kind of go hand and hand. If you are struggling in one area, the other area seems to get a little bit more attention. So when that front is playing well, the clock in the quarterback's head is different and it affects the passes. You saw that occasionally yesterday. It is good to see. We tried to, and Rob (Ryan) and his staff have really done a good job of sticking to some principals that we believe in coach-wise and kind of mixing them throughout the game plan."
How do you think you guys did in the red zone this week?
"I think overall pretty well. We had the explosive plays that we are used to and again, it was the type of game, once it started to unfold, that it was going to be a game of opportunities in regard to man on man coverage. So, typically your passing efficiency and maybe completion percentage is different than it would be against a zone team, and yet you have the ability to make some big plays which we were able to do."
Can you talk about getting (Robert) Meachem a touchdown pass?
"In the openers, the initial group of plays, there was one shot play in particular and I think what you are referencing is just I had made a comment to Robert that it has been a while since he found the end zone so this would be a good game for him to get reacquainted with it. One of the things we try to do throughout the week in game planning is look at plays with names attached to them. There is a progression that takes place, and yet there are certain times where there is a play called and there's a good chance Marques Colston is the primary target and if he is open he is probably going to get the football, no different than (Robert) Meachem, no different than any one of those guys on our offense really. The touchdown Robert scores on is going to be a big play for Jimmy Graham or Robert Meachem, it wasn't a specific play we were referencing in the openers. He did a good job with his release. I said earlier, when we were able to sign Robert, he is running well and we felt like we have a pretty good handle on the things he does well and it is good to have him back."
Was it something that you saw that elevated him?
"Well number one, he was playing he was playing during training camp so it wasn't like a player coming off the street. I felt like once he got comfortable with the system, his speed was something that we felt was a big plus and his size. He is a good blocker and someone that can make a play above his head."
There were talks about Meachem's speed being questionable in San Diego, did you see that on film?
"Not at all."
Can you talk about how Khiry Robinson did yesterday?
"He was in the four minute really at the end, so he did a good job handling the runs he had. He was excited to get in there. There were a few guys that got their first opportunities. It was (Tim) Lelito's first game, Khiry, there are a handful of guys. (Glenn) Foster playing, these are all guys that are not only rookies, but rookie free agents. It was good to see them."
How much of a learning experience was yesterday for Lelito?
"I think those snaps are invaluable. It is hard to simulate game snaps."
Do you remember studying (Ryan) Tannehill while he was at Texas A&M?
"Not much, no I don't. I know he is a real good athlete though. He played receiver initially in college and then moved to quarterback, and then playing quarterback in the NFL is unusual. We will get a good look this week on film. They've certainly done a great job there and have gotten off to a great start. They had a big win yesterday late in the game. They will be a tough challenge for us."
The last time you went 3-0 was 2006, when you went to the NFC Championship, and 2009, when you won the Super Bowl. Do you have to harp on keeping it one game at a time?
"No, it is easy. It is really easy. Your job is to reference all of those things, and for us it is noise. What's most important really is this is the game that we control this week. It is not all those other things. The team we just played was 4-0 last year at the start of the season and ended up firing the general manager and head coach. Our game is too difficult each week, and one thing we do a good job of is eliminating the distractions."
What did you see out of Glenn Foster yesterday?
"He did well. He did a good job."
Is there something to it to have a young defense?
"If they earned those positions. In other words, you said, I don't think by design you go out and say we are going to keep all these young players and cut the veterans. One thing that we try to do is keep the best players. The young players that earned spots we felt like were players that earned spots. And the veteran players that made the roster we felt like earned those spots. You said it, it wasn't by design."
Is there anything you are seeing why (Drew) Brees has been sacked 10 times in the first three games?
"We have seen a little bit more man coverage in the last couple of weeks. But I think we had an ME (mental error) yesterday on one of the sacks, we turned a guy loose. We pay close attention to it. It is something that we have done a good job with and we feel like it is important if we are going to throw the football to be successful. We have to keep him upright."
Do you think you have seen more man to man this year than you have in the past?
"We are into week three here. In other words, everyone plays a certain type of coverage philosophically. Last night we got a lot of man to man. Sometimes it makes you hold the ball a half a count longer. In other words, it is just a little bit different in the passing game and sometimes it can lead to a sack or two more. It is more challenging to find your interceptions on the defensive side. It aids in possibly getting quarterback hurried and sacked. I think it varies on who we are playing."
Are you familiar with anyone on Miami's staff?