NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The excitement of Monday night’s dramatic win over the Texans has quickly turned into a focus on the Saints’ next opponent, the Los Angeles Rams. The shortened week of preparation is nothing new for Sean Payton and his coaching staff but nonetheless provides challenges.
Payton spoke with reporters Wednesday morning about the team’s schedule this week, among other topics. The following is a copy of that conversation, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
What have you tweaked over the years to maximize preparation and recovery following a physical Monday Night football game such as the one with the Texans?
“One of the things that's important is trying to put some distance between the padded practice and your last game. I think that today we've got to be careful and mindful of how much time we were on the field, what players played how many snaps and make sure we handled it the right way. (It is) a little bit more mental early in the week and kind of adjust the schedule that way.”
How much does it shorten down the correction process (when you play on Monday night)? I know you guys have to go back and look at the errors you made in the previous game on film. How much does it shorten that time?
“Well, some of that is on the players to come in yesterday, even on their day off and get with the corrections down in the (position) room. A lot of guys watched tape as a group in their position groups yesterday. That’s just part of the deal when you play Monday night.”
Does it help the play a team like the Rams? You’ve seen them so often these last couple seasons. (The Rams are) not quite a division rival but I think you’ve seen them three times in the last couple of seasons.
“It’s part of the way scheduling works sometimes. We’ve got the (NFC) West this year and then we’ve had them because of our first-place finish and their first-place finish. They’re a real good football team obviously and a team that requires a lot of preparation to handle the movements and some of the motions offensively and then defensively they present a lot of problems with their front and their ability to cover and (force teams to) turn the ball over.”
We saw you guys use a lot of that three defensive end formation, a package from the second unit. Is this an individual game plan thing or is that something you want to incorporate more of this year? How does that work?
“A lot of that is just week by week how you decide you want to rush the quarterback. A lot of it's by gameplan.”
How do you perceive Todd Gurley’s health now relative to the end of last year and some of the struggles he had at time in the postseason and Super Bowl? Was there any visually discernible difference?
“We’re preparing like he’s full go.”
Relative to the end of last season, do you notice a difference in the way (Todd Gurley is) moving or was used in Week One relative to the end of last year or the last time you played him?
“It varies. I mean some of the tape you see they’ve got a rotation that’s suitable for them. I see a healthy player. A lot of it is the role they choose to use him in.”
How did you feel about the opponent rushing totals on Monday night and what were the factors that you saw going into that?
“Part of the key to that Houston team is the flexibility that the quarterback provides them. He got out of the pocket. I know we feel like we can play the run better and we are going to see some real good rushing teams here starting with Los Angeles.”
We know the regards you have for a guy like Aaron Donald. How has he improved over the years?
“Well, he is extremely athletic and active. He’s very smart and he can get on an edge. All the things you look for in someone playing that three-technique position.”
Going back to the fact that you guys have played Los Angeles quite a bit the last couple of years, does that help when you’re getting prepared for the stuff that Sean McVay does with all the pre-snap movement when you're seeing a team for the fourth time in three years as opposed to maybe first time?
“You referenced gameplans, you reference plays in games and there’s some tweaking that’ll go on. But I think that yes, there is a familiarity having played them twice last year and then once the season before. So you look closely at that and then you put on or put in what you think suits your team now to go along with it.”
Early in training camp, you talked about Alvin Kamara and pitch count and usage and the amount of usage a Monday night. Was that what we’ll be seeing this season? “
It can vary just as the game unfolds. A lot of it depends on how many snaps we receive (in the flow of the game). Sometimes you have a game where you have more snaps, you convert third downs. He’s someone that we feel like any series he’s going to impact played for us and impact our offense.”
How did you view the way David (Onyemata) handled what he went through in the offseason and his approach in terms of just working through it and football wise and so forth and what are your expectations for him returning to the lineup?
“He had a really good camp. I think he’s handled it well. He’s tough minded. He’s a tremendous teammate and a real good football player and it’d be good to have him back.”