Sean Payton provides evaluation of Saints’ preseason opener

Sean Payton provides evaluation of Saints’ preseason opener
Teddy Bridgewater connected for one touchdown pass against the Vikings. Source: Mark Lagrange

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Saints opened their preseason Friday night with a 34-25 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Starters Drew Brees, Cam Jordan and Andrus Peat were rested while most of the remaining first team units were done playing after a couple drives in the first half.

The following is text from Sean Payton’s press conference after the game, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:

Wide reciever Lil'Jordan Humphrey lunges for the end zone during a Saints preseason game against the Vikings (Gray TV Broadcast)
Wide reciever Lil'Jordan Humphrey lunges for the end zone during a Saints preseason game against the Vikings (Gray TV Broadcast)

“I thought we did a few good things well toward the end of the first half. I like how we handled the two-minute possession offensively, and defensively turned it around and coming up with a stop. Overall, when you watch that game, and I’m sure we will see it on the tape tomorrow, I think the one thing that stood out were yards per play, yards per pass, yards per rush (where) they were better than us tonight. It will be important to look at the tape and make corrections.

"I was encouraged a couple of times with our return game, specifically kickoff. We will kind of go from there.”

On Teddy Bridgewater’s progressions:

“I felt like he was comfortable, and he got the ball to the right guy pretty quickly. There was some command when he was in there. I think that he and Taysom this training camp, I’ve noticed, a pretty significant difference in how they’ve performed.”

On Teddy Bridgewater’s comfort level since the last regular season game:

“I think there is more to it than that. If you look at that game, we had two tackles that had just got there that week (starting). Sometimes when you’re playing a game at the end of the season where your seeding is locked up, in fairness to him, I would have done things differently. He’s been doing really well.”

On challenging pass interference:

“It was fine. I think we are going to be a little bit more conservative. In a preseason game it is a little more easier to throw a flag. I think the feeling upstairs was there was hand-checking by both receivers. Being on the (competition) committee I just know the approach the league’s going to take when they’re reviewing. They are going to be pretty conservative. They are going to have to see something substantial to overturn it. We’re going to get used to it.”

On regular season pass interference challenges:

“In a regular season game, depending on when and where you’re at in the game, probably in the first half, you’d have to have a strong conviction. It is a lot easier to throw one of those flags preseason week one. I think the one that was different tonight is getting used to, or getting accustomed to, ‘hey, we can challenge that.’ In other words, on the other side of it you’re on the receiving end, say you’re on offense and you come away with a completion and it might be offensive pass interference. Getting to the ball quickly and snapping, there are a handful of nuances that we have to condition ourselves to.”

On Deonte Harris:

“I thought he had a couple of good runs. You could see his speed and change of direction and the result. I was encouraged with that.”

On Deonte Harris in a game vs practice:

“He gained yards. He did a good job. He can run. I will say this, he has been nicked up in practice with a hamstring and it was good to see him back out there. And then not having the amount of time on the pads as some other guys have had, I was encouraged on how he played.”

On punt returner options:

“We’ll see. It’s week one."

On offensive skill position evaluations:

“Honestly, I think it’s easier than you think. We grade all 11 on each play and pretty thoroughly. The thing that keeps us from coming up with a clear grade is that players (are) undecided as to what to do. We know the grade isn’t going to be good, but if you think he’s good enough to do and he didn’t know what to do, that’s frustrating. Our job as coaches is to try to see him be able to do something at full speed so that we can truly grade his talent. We will grade this game much like the regular season game. Our schedule tomorrow will be like the day after a regular season game. The key will be getting the corrections made so we are not repeating them again next week.”

On perception change in certain areas after seeing guys practice and play in pads:

“I think we could tackle better. I think our pad level is going to have to be better. I am sure when we watch the tape there are going to be a number of details that you will want to pull your hair out with and yet, that is why we are watching it. That is why heading into the better part, second full week of camp. We’ll wait to look at it and see what we can see.”

On the goals for returning starters:

“Our first phase tonight we wanted to get somewhere between 12-16 snaps. There are a few players within that first phase that maybe from an injury (they were monitoring or recovering from) we were short of that. When we get into the second phase, we’re looking at about 20-23 snaps. That usually gets you through the second quarter into the third quarter. Then there’s some adjustments there. Then there’s some subtle adjustments, like if a guy is playing nickel in phase two but he’s not in the game because they’re not in nickel a lot, then he’s going to play more in phase three. I think the challenge always is the kicking game, but for the most part we were good there. We had one snap missing a player and we’ll get that corrected.”

On Cyril Grayson Jr.’s sideline catch:

“I didn’t have a special look at it. He’s doing some good things. There’s some other things he’s got to really work on.”

On Dan Arnold’s offseason and preseason this year and his development:

“He’s still young (and he is) improving. He played a handful of snaps last year, maybe more than he expected. It is still about getting your confidence to a point. It’s born out of past performance. We want to play well, we prepare to play well, but confidence can only be achieved from demonstrated ability. There are a handful of players just like Dan that are working to put together a good game, put together a handful of plays, and have some success. He is real conscientious. He’s hard on himself and you keep developing.”

On preseason penalties and attacking mental errors:

“I’m sure when we put the tape on there will be a few things that’ll jump out. There’s generally one or two that are a little easier.”

On how to battle rust and touches with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara:

“Every year. Again, there’s a certain amount of plays.”

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