New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton met with the media on Monday, a day after a tough 41-38 defeat to the Carolina Panthers.
Opening Statement: “Obviously it is frustrating coming in after a game like that. I thought our guys played with great effort and yet there are a handful of things that come up during that game that end up hurting us in the end. Not any one specific thing, but a culmination of things. Those guys are a good football team and we have to find a way to finish a game like that. Any questions?”
What’s the message to the players?
“We talked all week about this being a division game and I think our guys understand we play Tampa this week and then will have Atlanta coming up .These teams know each other on both sides of it. We talked about the type of game we felt like it needed to be. We respect those guys for what they have been able to accomplish as a team to this point in the season and it was just about making sure the areas that we feel like we need to play well in and here are the things that we need to do to get a win. We did a lot of those things and yet there are a few things just from an assignment standpoint that creep in and hurt us. It’s difficult and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you get in a game like that and you see that you had those opportunities.”
How exasperated are you with all the changes that you made and the pass coverage continues to have those assignment breakdowns and the penalties as well?
“The penalties are one thing. We had our fair share offensively as well and then there are a few that I could go on about with regards to questioning, but you can’t allow that to be the penalties I’m saying to be a deciding factor. With regards to the breakdown in coverage when they arrive certainly that is one of the things we are looking at right now and recognize that you can play with great effort and all of a sudden if there is just one guy not in the right spot it can affect you and it’s no different if you are playing on offense and there is one guy that misses a protection or there is one that runs the wrong route. It’s a team game and you have to count on all 11 guys.”
How frustrating is it being 32nd in the league on defense and on pace to give up the most passing touchdowns allowed in a single season?
“You just said it very frustrating.”
How long does it take you to come down from the anger and frustration after a game like yesterday? Do you flip the switch the next morning?
“Man, it is not flipped yet. I’ll be honest with you, just getting off the phone with Dean (Blandino) and the league office. There are three different times where there are 12 guys that, literally, break the huddle. (It is) not a single thing. That is just one part of it. One of the things that I have tried to do here, and we’ve talked about it, we don’t come in on Mondays and just have angst half of the day about calls. But today was one of those mornings where (it’s difficult). Someone sent me the TV copy and you have to be able to get that. The fourth-and-one becomes fourth-and-six. That’s the first time that it happens. (On the goal-to-go situation), they put 12 on the line of scrimmage. 12 break the huddle and 12 go to the line of scrimmage. The third time around, it happens on the final game-winning drive. They break the huddle and player 12 continues onto the sideline. There are a lot of challenges that that causes when you are trying to play defense and you’re trying to play coverage. I said what I said yesterday and I meant it. Those are easy things to see. It’s frustrating, but again, we don’t make excuses. That is not why (we lost). You’re just angry because those were critical situations. One happens the play before the four-and-one in which Cam (Newton) gets the big play on the naked (bootleg). The other happens on the final game-winning drive, while the other happens on the one-yard line. Those are too easy to make.”
How do you look at a position like corner where your team had so many guys and seemed so deep, and yet injuries just hit it?
“Throughout the year, Keenan (Lewis) had been battling his sports hernia. He had the knee (injury). Yesterday, Delvin (Breaux) starts the game and comes up with a big play, a pass defensed, an interception, a great tackle on a screen, and then, on that go route, he tweaks his hamstring. In our league, you just have to get the next guy ready. Later in that game, it wasn’t just Kyle (Wilson) playing. Obviously, he played in the nickel. Damian Swann has been nicked up. You just have to be ready to adjust to it and it is challenging. That’s the game.”
Jameis Winston has gotten better since you last played him? How impressed are you with what he has done in his rookie year?
“We followed their games a few times now. He is playing real well. I see him getting the ball down the field to those receivers. He does have a confidence about him and I think that the team is playing well. I think Doug Martin is rushing the football. I haven’t seen yesterday’s game but because we follow some common opponents, you kind of just keep track just by the cutups. They are doing a lot of things well.”
Did you expect that fourth down catch by (Greg) Olsen to get overturned?
“Well, (there were) two things. It is not the catch. He catches it but if you watch, he tumbles and the ball rolls out. What is a catch and what is not a catch? You keep hearing that it has to be secured to the ground. Was he down initially? Last year, we went through a bunch of these calls at the owner’s meetings. The one thing that was crystal clear was that you have to maintain control of the ball. He cleanly (caught it). I can see it because it was right in front of me. He plucked that thing and kept it off the ground, but he rolled and the ball rolled out. I am still trying to figure it out.”