Sean Payton on the Saints’ First Loss of the Year:
“When you lose a game like that, you can’t play the next game quick enough.”The New Orleans Saints haven’t looked outstanding through three weeks, but they are a 28-yard field goal away from being 3-0 and exactly where they want to be in the standings – undefeated and atop the NFC South. Instead they are 2-1 and questions are already starting to arise if the Saints will be the latest to fall prey to the Super Bowl Hangover.
I think that’s premature quite frankly. Anytime you have a quarterback as proficient and experienced as Drew Brees, you’re probably going to be just fine. Sean Payton’s not panicking yet, but he knows his team has plenty to work on before they take the field next Sunday against Carolina.Payton joined WWL in New Orleans to talk about his team’s struggles converting short-yardage situations recently, the high number of drops to start the year by Devery Henderson and other members of the Saints’ receiving corps, learning from and moving on after a loss like Sunday’s, why he felt his decision to kick a game-winning field goal attempt on 1st down in overtime, the need to be more balanced, the improved play of special teams (besides his the kicking game of course), and other topics during his 30+ minute coach’s show.
On the Saints’ struggles converting short-yardage situations to keep drives alive in recent weeks:
“Well the one thing you bring up and it’s a good point, we didn’t have the attempts yesterday. When you have three turnovers, you end up with a fumble, you end up with a couple of interceptions, those end up basically ending possessions. And all of a sudden you find yourself with maybe 50 snaps offensively compared to maybe 80 snaps that we’re defending. And that happens typically when you’re turning the ball over, so we don’t have the same number of attempts. Late in that game, we had success throwing it in the final drive and a half. But I think more specifically, being more efficient in those opportunities that you talk about, and whether it’s one person, whether it’s pad level, all those things we’ll work very closely on to clean up. You know, the very first 4th down play, Ivory’s going to get a tough yard, yard and a half, and ends up fumbling the football, they recover. And then later we don’t make the first down on a short-yardage situation and those are things we’re just going to have to work on. We certainly feel like we have the experience on our offensive line and the right group of guys to do it. Now it’s just a matter of going out there and executing it.”
On the high number of drops by the Saints’ receiving corps to start the year, particularly by Devery Henderson:
“Well they can obviously stop drives. The one shot yesterday, Drew did a good job off a kind of double-move to Devery on the left. And we got the ball down the field, he just wasn’t able to secure it. So I think you just keep working on the fundamentals and the technique of catching the football, and continue to rotate those guys in. Obviously they understand the importance of each possession, and that’s something we’ll continue to work on.”
On the importance of putting a tough loss like that behind them and getting ready for the next week’s opponent:
“Well, it’s important. I think number one it’s necessary you learn the lessons from the game. I think what’s difficult, you’re lining up for what’s a short field goal in overtime and you expect to make those, and Garrett expects to make those, and our team expects him to as well. They’ve seen him under pressure. So you’re kind of in that of that mindset that you’re going to win the football game. Once we stopped them defensively on that first drive in overtime, we got decent field position and started out with that screen play to Pierre which ended up getting us a good chunk of yardage and putting us at midfield. So I think the key message, and we talked about it today, is let’s do a great job of studying closely the things we didn’t do as well… the things that real good teams, that champion teams do. And then let’s address them and make sure we have a real good week. You know, when you lose a game like that, you can’t play the next game quick enough. To have that opportunity to get that taste back in your mouth…. it’s been awhile, you know, we’ll go all the way back to December since the last time we lost a game. And so, you forget, but it stings, and it certainly isn’t as good as winning.”
On the decision to attempt the game-winning field goal in overtime on 1st down:
“I think it’s a good question. Typically, once you get down to that 10, 11 yard line, Pierre had gotten knicked up, we had one fumble, and the last thing you want is a turnover where you don’t have a chance. You feel like, hey, if we can’t kick an 11-yard field goal or a 19-yard field goal, we’re probably not good enough to win that game. But in Washington last year in overtime if you recall, we got down in there, we ran a few plays and ended up kicking it. I think the one rule change that would affect those decisions, is if you’re in the postseason and it’s ever your first possession, if you kick a field goal in the postseason in overtime on the first possession, the other team gets an opportunity to answer. I think if that was the first possession in the postseason, you would definitely continue to run your offense trying to score a touchdown. But where we were in the game, we had just converted the 3rd down play to Deverey to get us real close, I felt clearly that it was the right thing to do at that time. We had done it really kind of the same way in Washington.”
On the need to be more balanced offensively, much like they were a year ago:
“Yeah, I agree completely. One of the things we spend a lot of time on is our play-action passing game. And in order for you to have an effective play-action passing game, it has to come off the effective run look. So, that balance was critical for us a year ago as you mentioned earlier, and will be going forward. We feel we have powerful guards up front, guys at the tackle position, Jon Goodwin at center – we feel like we’re going to be able to run the football, and that starts with all of us, myself included just in regards to getting these guys in the right position, and calling these plays at the right time. So, each week you don’t want to end up with a ton of passing attempts. Usually when that happens you’re come-back and having to throw it late. So, you want to be able to throw it on your terms, and that’s something we did a year ago that we’re going to have to improve on now.”