NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Saints Head Coach Sean Payton held a conference call with New Orleans media the day after the team’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Q: With the bye week coming right at the midway point of the season, can you assess the first half?
SP: “There are a lot of things to be pleased about knowing the way the schedule unfolded. We felt like we were going to play some tough teams early, playoff teams early, a challenging West Coast road trip. I think given the circumstances with Drew’s (Brees) injury (and how the team responded), I just think there are a lot of things that are encouraging as a coach and yet a lot of things we can still continue to do to get better. But, I felt the Seattle win was an important one for our club and I think that confidence then led over into the following weeks. I think we’re playing very well defensively right now and offensively, yesterday again, situationally, third down red zone, those were encouraging numbers. You are kind of what your record is and we are 7-1 right now. We get into more division play obviously, when we get back. I think, shoot, those early games when we return are four right in a row. It’s Atlanta, Tampa, Carolina, Atlanta division games, and then a real good 49ers team, a real good Colts team, jumping ahead to these other opponents. But, I think overall the bye comes at a good time.”
Q: What did you take away from Drew (Brees’) performance when you watched the tape today?
SP: “He was sharp. I thought he located the ball well. He had a good week of practice. He really threw it well in practice and I thought in the game the same way. The one interception was a play he’d want back, but overall I thought not having played in five weeks, six weeks coming in, I thought he did a good job.”
Q: The first 15 scripted plays, are you all using that as a guide to see how you are being defended and is there any concern because you are not scoring on those drives?
SP: “Listen, there is a concern because you are not just trying to see how you are being defended. You want to go down the field and score (a) touchdown or kick a field goal. I wasn’t aware it was the last 13 or 15, but certainly each Friday or Saturday when I’m in here putting them together, I’ve felt a cold streak because that’s something that’s been a strength of ours. Now without forcing it, there are games where you get into, you move field position a little in your favor, you’re forced to punt, and you have them backed up. You are hoping to score on your first drive, you are hoping to gather some information. Like right away on the first play yesterday, I saw (Patrick) Peterson in the middle of the defensive huddle and I knew right away he was going to cover Mike Thomas and we felt that was going to be the case. But, the overall goal or the objective would certainly be to score points and we’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be better in that area.”
Q: Going back to Drew (Brees), you talked about how sharp he was. Are you surprised he could miss five games and come back that sharp or does nothing really surprise you with him anymore?
SP: “Again, he didn’t just arrive at the stadium yesterday and start throwing. There’s a process that he was on. A very diligent rehab, the throwing, and all the things that go into that gradually increased. I knew he threw last Monday, felt really good about how he threw last Monday, and then we visited in and he prepared and was ready to really take most of the reps in and start. There was a buildup to that in his preparation and I’m sure maybe to some degree there’s that attention to detail he has. Teddy (Bridgewater) and even Taysom (Hill) (have it too). It’s a fantastic room and he wasn’t going play if he wasn’t 100 percent. He understands exactly where we’re at as a team and we just communicated, payed close attention to it, and shoot it looked good. He felt good and I don’t think there was a hiccup relative to the decision to start him. I said that all along. When he is cleared medically, he is with no restrictions, and he’s playing then that is the week. We do not look at it like, well, we have a bye. That (was) an important game yesterday. That’s an important game relative to what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Q: When you’re putting guys like Zach Line and Josh Hill on kind of the boundaries of your offensive formations, what are you hoping to accomplish with that? Is it opening stuff up for the inside guys?
SP: “The very first thing it does is give you information because if a corner is out there, we know it’s zone and if a linebacker safety goes out there, we know it’s man. It’s an immediate tell relative to coverage, man or zone, and that’s pretty significant for the quarterback. Then a lot of times it just depends on the scheme, but sometimes if I know 21 personnel is going to draw a base defense and it’s going draw man to man then I may want man to man and we might want to create what looks like a one back, three receiver formation. But if that was done in 11 personnel, the coverage of the front might be different. So sometimes you can create that one back formation by putting a big somewhere hidden in the trips or the double, if that makes sense. And still get the route combination you might want or the run play you might want. So pre-snap it gives us a man, zone read and then there’s probably a good reason for it relative to what you’re seeing defensively.”
Q: What’s the schedule like for you guys now?
SP: “Look, I’m going back to Andy Reid’s theory. When we struggled early here the first three or four years. Our record after the bye wasn’t very good and (I) called up Andy and I asked him for the schedule. He said, ‘well, I just told him to get out of here. I’ll see them next Monday.’ I thought, man, Andy was 10-0 after the bye. So these guys will have time away, coaches will have time away. We’ll come back with a bonus day Monday on Atlanta and and get ready to go.”
Q: What did you think of the crowd yesterday? I know you wanted that to be an impact in the game.
SP: “I thought (they definitely made an impact). Their offense was one that in a perfect world they’d like to use the clap cadence where the quarterback claps and the center hears it. That can be effective. That can be effective on the road, but they are also an offense that relies on communication at the line, from the line, (and) from the sideline. I saw it firsthand. I thought we made it very difficult. I saw the quarterback walking up with the running backs a lot. They only had two running backs in the game. There’s a lot of protection, not a lot of running plays. I think it was challenging on them. I think that environment really, if you looked at who they’ve played to date was easily the loudest environment they’ve played in.”
Information provided by the New Orleans Saints Media Relations