New Orleans, La. - Sean Payton has an overall record of 2-2 against the St. Louis Rams during his tenure as Saints head coach with both of those losses marking the first win of the respective season for the Rams.
The following are Payton's comments to the media Wednesday, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
"(We are) back into a normal work week routine, with today being all first and second down. The rest of the week will be like normal?"
I've noticed the differences in your home and road third down percentage. Do you attribute most of that to crowd noise?
"Playing on the road, for any team, there are challenges that go with it. Crowd noise and the snap count, those things, that's the first thing that comes to mind for us as an advantage at home is working off of a silent snap count. That half-second your tackles might receive when you play at home is neutralized on the road. I think all the teams in our league have become very adept at handling silent snap counts, whether it's under center or in the shotgun. That challenge presents itself every time you travel, especially to an indoor environment, a loud stadium. We'll simulate the noise here, but this will be a good test for us. I know that just based on what we've seen and how we've seen this team play that we're getting ready to play."
You used those big signs out in Seattle. Is that something new or something you're going to continue to use?
"It's a little different. We'll see. It's more about personnel, more about certain things we want to do, where you don't have to worry about radioing in. Week to week, depending on where we're playing, we'll see if it's applicable."
What do those signs replace? Do they replace a coach on the sideline yelling to the players?
No. Just something we do with regards to our communication. We just want to leave it at that."
The last couple of trips up to St. Louis have kind of been a struggle, even though the Rams have been a down team. Is that something that you remind them of?
"This is an entirely different team. I think that one of the things you look at, just in the last seven or eight weeks, this is a team that's running the ball exceptionally well. Defensively, they're second in the league in takeaways. They've got a young roster, and yet you just have to put on the game tape and watch the Chicago game or watch the Indianapolis game or watch – pick a game – Seattle. They're a team that can do a lot of things very well. They're fast on offense. Their offensive line is healthy. Defensively they're right at the top of the league in sacks, hurries, pressures. They're very well coached and, despite the injury at quarterback, you see the numbers and you see how they've been able to rush the football. I think the focus for us is really getting to know this opponent. It's different than any of those past teams, different head coach, just as we're different and (we are) getting ready to play our best football game."
Can you recall when you signed Junior Galette and what he was like then to where he is now and how far he has come?
"He's obviously come a long way. He was a free agent we looked closely at. We saw speed and athleticism in the player. To his credit, he came into a real good locker room and really made this his number one priority. That sounds like a given, but where he's at now is because he had a vision and he worked extremely hard to put himself in that position. I think that each year he has gotten better. He's extremely focused on his position and on his job."
When you decided to put the 3-4 defense in, were you excited about the possibilities (with Galette)?
"There were certain things that fit him about it. And still, when it's all said and done, his ability when the ball is snapped to affect the quarterback, whether it's from an even front or a 3-4 front. The snaps that you're seeing, a lot of the snaps that we see on third downs are coming from some type of nickel three-down front or an even front. But his ability to rush the passer with speed and with a few changeups has been really what has made him stand out."
On Sunday night about Marques Colston you said that the way you utilize receivers doesn't help in terms of postseason accolades. Can you explain that further?
"There are a lot of teams, that when they're in 21 personnel (pro), you know who the X is and you know who the Z is for the most part. When they go to the nickel, third receiver, you know who he is and he always plays in the slot or someone plays in the slot. That'd be very typical. You hear these terms (that) he could be a two receiver for us or a one receiver for us or a nickel. I think we would be less conventional. We've got, depending on our personnel, a number of combinations that would be in the game in 21. In nickel we've got combinations. Marques will play inside in the nickel, he'll play outside sometimes as well. Because of the substitution patterns, sometimes it's not as simple as he is always at one position or any one receiver is at any one position."
Do you like the idea that a guy like him can have maybe a couple of quiet games and then a big game and the defense you're going up against never really knows who to (cover)?
"Part of that is the system that we operate in, and a lot of it is our quarterback's ability to quickly diagnose what he sees defensively and get the ball to the right player. Each night when we put in plays – tonight will be third down – they have a player in mind, a primary (target) in mind. Tomorrow's installation meeting for third down for instance, those receivers are listening and they can see the play and see that their name is on it as a primary and yet they also understand that it could wind up going to the backside receiver (or) it could end up going underneath to the running back. I think that has worked for us, and it's something that is not unique to the passing game, but it's something that we emphasize with any eligible in the pattern."
Could you give us some background on Rob Ryan and the Rams job? Jeff Fisher told us today how he thought he had a commitment from Rob, but didn't mind the fact that he changed his mind. Were you aware of that situation when you lured him over here?
"Very much so. When I was aware he was available, I was interested. I didn't know him. I really hadn't met him or spent any time with him. I spent some time during that process, once I found out that he had left St. Louis. It ended up being a plus for our team."
Were you under the impression that he (Rob Ryan) left St. Louis specifically to come here?
"No, I had received a call and it was from someone else that said, he might be available. He is not staying in St. Louis and so once that was the case I had an interest. It ended up working out for us."
What is your decision on activating Victor Butler or putting him on IR?
"Well he is not placed on IR. He is not activated. He just remains on PUP and basically a decision about not bringing him up to the roster was just with where we are at in the season and where we feel like he is health-wise. His rehab has gone extremely well. To his credit he has worked very hard at it. Obviously with an ACL injury there is a lot that goes into that. We had that window where he could come out and you try and pay attention to that and I think overall we just felt like it was best right now that we went that direction. Part of that is just having that confidence and making sure that it is not too soon. I think the process and the way we handled it and the way he has handled it has been good. With the rehab, I think it is important that there is a goal in mind, that there is something you are shooting for. It's really helped him and I know it is going to help him as it gets to the offseason and he is fully healthy for mini camps and OTAs."
What have you liked out of Curtis Lofton in the middle of the field?
"He's a good tackler. There is not a lot of leaky yardage. He's thick. He's strong. He has good instincts on gameday. He can still get to the middle when he is playing a two coverage. We can get his depth. He's distinctive that way. He has good leadership skills and I think he's distinctively a good inside linebacker. He has played very well. He played very well last week too."
Has his focus been what you wanted out of him more of toward the run and less of the pass rush?
"I think the players that play that position, it is just like tight end, they have to be able to do both well. Part of it for them is key in diagnosis the personnel grouping and looking at a formation trying to anticipate a certain pitch much like a batter would. He does a good job, our group does a good job of film study and trying to look at the formation tendencies and in the meantime offenses no different than ourselves look at them and try and offset them so it is not always run or always pass when you are in a certain group or set. But I think that you need to be able to do both of those as well."
Is that window for Victor Butler closed now?
"Correct. He cannot practice. He just goes to reserve PUP."
Did you get any resistance from him on that?
"No, not at all. Every step of the way, we have been on the same page. Each week we talk about where he's at. It is something that the player and the club were communicating with the whole time."
Are you surprised that so many people are talking about the choice to take the second and third on a penalty instead of third and ten?
"I think it all starts with the national broadcast. I wasn't squared away either with the options. When I gaze down at that sheet I'm looking for seven yard gains."
The officials give you the option?