Quotes: Sean Payton, A.J. Klein, Max Unger on day after Saints loss at Vikings

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New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Is it accurate that you guys had only 10 men on defense to start the game?

“First play of the game, correct. We had (that) initially as a nickel call and we ended up with just two corners instead of the third corner.”

A frustrating way to start the game and set the tone?

“To say the least.”

Whose fault?

“It’s the communication that goes on between base and nickel. Without singling anyone out, we didn’t get it communicated clear enough. Fortunately, it didn’t end up hurting us on that specific play.”

How many other plays were there 10 men?

“That’s the only play.”

What were your main takeaways after you had a chance to watch the tape that stuck with you?

“It was not a good tape. I thought defensively we struggled in coverage at times. For the early portion of the game, the penalties hurt in the first series. There were 30 yards (of penalties) in the first series. It led to their game-tying field goal. As the game wore on, I thought the explosive plays hurt us. There were some MEs (mental errors), poor decisions. Overall (it was) not good enough. Offensively, I thought we struggled at times in protection. We were not consistent enough in the running game. In the kicking game, the snap-hold-kick, all of that was fairly smooth. I think there was one big play given up in the kick coverage unit. Then from a kick return standpoint, punt return standpoint, it was average at best.”

Were some of the struggles in coverage on defense, mental errors or more about guys just getting beat?

“Both.”

How do you go about correcting that in the next five days?

“The challenge is in a short week of making sure we are going make sure see this tape now. This isn’t one we can just put away and then get on to New England. That might be a little bit more longer practice times, tomorrow and/or Thursday. But there are enough things that we have to clean up that we have to see this before we get on to (New England). Obviously, we’re planning and game planning New England but we can’t allow some of those mistakes to happen again.”

There was a lot of optimism based on preseason and camp in regards to defense, and a lot happens between week one and week two. What outweighs what? The first real game or can you still have optimism that this was maybe a week one sloppy-?

“There’s a lot to clean up. You can’t sugarcoat it. You have to get a handful of these things fixed or they will come up again. So we as a staff in all phases have to do a better job.”

Didn’t seem like Sterling Moore was with the ones for much of camp but obviously had some impressive moments, why wasn’t he among those top three cornerbacks last night?

“We just thought Aggie Harris (De’Vante Harris) had been working with the ones and that was our decision going in.”

And what had impressed you about Aggie in the offseason?

“Just the consistency through camp. He’s played really well.”

Do you plan to bring in any tackles this week?

“We’ll see. We’ll wait and see how we go and kind of look at our options.”

How’d you think the new group of linebackers played?

“I thought overall, pretty good. I would say both (A.J.) Klein and (Alex) Anzalone (had a) pretty active game. I was encouraged.”

Typically, the Will stays on the field every play, why were you guys mixing Craig (Robertson) in?

“Well the Will stays on the field. We just had Craig receiving snaps for Alex (Anzalone) in this first game. We were going to have every third or fourth series just to monitor the total plays.”

Have you had a chance to look at New England yet?

“Yes. That’s what we’re working on right now.”

What stood out about their first game?

“I’ve seen both sides of the ball. They move the ball very well offensively. It wasn’t until about midway through that game that Kansas City hit a few explosive plays. (They) Had some long drives. Obviously, they’re an outstanding team and we have a lot of work to do in preparation for them.”

What type of disadvantages do you have coming off of a short week and New England having a pretty long week from playing on a Thursday?

“None of it matters because you can’t control it. You try to stay focused on the things you can control. That’s just us getting back here and quickly getting up to speed and making the corrections from this past weekend’s game.”

One thing that stood out was Cam (Jordan) dropping in the coverage a few times, why is that something that you guys wanted to mix in?

“Sometimes you do that to tighter red area. The red zone situations where you’re looking for extra flare control or extra help on flare control. A lot of it is situational. It’s not unusual.”

Were there one or two things that prevented you from having success in the red zone or was it something different each time?

“That’s a good question. I think we had an ME (mental error) on a trap play for the most part was blocked well and (Mark) Ingram’s going to have a chance to score. I think that it wasn’t one specific thing. Unfortunately, when you end up kicking that amount of field goals, that’s certainly an area we have to spend more time on and be better at.”

A.J. Klein, Dalvin CookNew Orleans Saints Linebacker A.J. Klein

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How frustrating is it watching the tape and seeing only 10 guys on the field for the first play?

“To know we started the season that way, it’s obviously a lack of communication to start, but I think that obviously can fall on me. I have to know who’s on the field personnel (wise) and make sure everyone is out there, so I take that responsibility.”

What are your thoughts on the defense’s first game of the season?

“Defensively, I thought we started well, obviously I think in the first half we stopped the run. I thought we set our edges well and were solid in the run game. Obviously we have to be better in communicating in our third down situations, we had some completions for first downs that were just communication errors. Things that can be fixed between us and the rest of the back seven, but it was obviously a lackluster performance and I think a lot of it was self-inflicted. We had some penalties that we gave up and that we wish we could have back some missed opportunities, one the forced fumble that we could’ve recovered and obviously Cam (Jordan) and I running into each other when I was going after the ball. Looking back at it Cam had it in his hands and I wish I would have seen that, but I mean I think we have to look at the positives, build on those and really have to just get ready for New England. I mean we cannot sit and dwell on this game. We have a short week and lost a day of preparation. We are already looking forward to New England.”

How do you evaluate the play that you ran into Cam (Jordan)?

“There’s really no evaluation to it. I saw the ball in the air and it was tipped and I was just trying to make a play on the ball. When you sit down and break it down on film and you’re like, oh yeah it would be great if you could peel off and not hit him (Cam), but if I see the ball in the air I’m going for the ball and obviously Cam was feeling the same exact same way. It’s just one of those bang-bang plays just making a split second decision and obviously mine was see the ball in the air and to go get that ball. That’s the way everything happens. I mean the ball is not going to bounce in our direction every single time, those types of plays happen throughout the league every week. (It’s) Just one missed opportunity that I wish we could’ve capitalized on. “

What are your thoughts on the defense from the offseason till now?

“Well obviously it’s a learning process. It’s week one, we have a long season ahead of us and I think there are a little bit of growing pains that go along with week one. Not only just for us backers, but the defensive backs as well and the line up front. We have to be able to cover long enough to be able to get pressure on the quarterbacks. We didn’t do a good enough job on our end on our pressures, getting pressure when we did blitz and obviously our man to man coverage in some situations that we gave up the edge and gave up some runs. We just have to be better overall there’s really no if, ands or butts or ways to get around it. It’s just the performance wasn’t good enough and we’re going to learn from this tape and we have a lot of teaching tape that we’ll have to build off of and like I said teach from. We just have to get ready to move forward there’s nothing else I can say. The score says it all, we didn’t play well enough as a team.”

What are your thoughts on the Alex Anzalone defenseless player hit?

“I mean that flag on him didn’t get into his head at all. That’s a bang-bang play and unfortunately the way things are a little bit now, personally I didn’t think it was flagrant, the o-lineman that tried to cut him grabbed his legs as he was going forward and I just told him to move on to the next play and he’s a very mentally strong player and he’s not one to dwell on previous plays. For him that is no issue and I have a lot of confidence in Alex and he has a lot of confidence in himself. That’s just the type of player he is. He is going to bounce back and let the last play roll of his back.”

What can you do to help get pressure on the quarterback?

“What I can do is be better in my man coverage. I know early in the game that third down, I think it was like a third and five or third and six and they ran a little bunch formation and ran (Stephon) Diggs underneath. I tried to chase him down and he just outran me. For me the technique portion of that, getting in the way of receivers and being sound in my principles and allow our d-line to get after them. There were also a few times where they threw outlet passes to the backs out of the backfield in man to man coverage, where if I’m hugging up and if I’m chest to chest on my man that extra split second might be able to give us another sack. For me it’s just tightening up my coverage and I understand what I have to do and just have to get it done.”

New Orleans Saints Center Max Unger

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

You’re not playing right next to him but how hard is it to adjust on the fly when you have to bring in a new right tackle?

“Tons of credit to Senio (Kelemete). There’s not a lot of guys that can come in and play five positions on the offensive line and have impact like that so shout out to him for doing that. That put him in a pretty tough spot. I thought that he performed really well as far as him adjusting to him coming in. He’s very familiar with our system. He’s been here for a really long time. You really couldn’t tell with him being in there as far as needing to do more or less communication. It was a good job by him.”

What was your general takeaway from the game and maybe from the offensive line standpoint?

“We have to be able to run the ball. Credit to them (Minnesota Vikings), this is a very good defense. We knew that going in there. We as a unit have to be more productive. There are no excuses about that. As far as the overall game, against a good defense you have to be more productive in the red zone. We kicked four field goals. We were scoring points but at the same time, you’re not going to the win games against good teams when you’re kept out of the end zone that many times.”

This line hadn’t worked together a ton through the preseason do you feel like there were some growing pains through the game or do you feel like you had the cohesion that you wanted?

“Yes, the cohesion was there. I thought it got better throughout the game. I thought we moved the ball well. Again, we had some pre snap penalties and some issues we need to clean up. It’s not where we want it to be, we all know that and there’s some work that needs to be done.”

Were the failed third down conversions a lack of execution and long distances?

“Yeah, I mean we wanted to keep the third downs manageable and at times they were not for a bunch of different reasons and even when you do that it’s just that much more difficult against a good pass rush and good pressure team and that again goes back to production and positive yards on first and second down. We didn’t give ourselves manageable third downs and that’s obviously not where we wanted to be and that’s kind of where I see that issue lying is running the ball, like I said earlier  ”

You guys were focused on field position, no turnover and obviously that makes sense with the defense you’re facing, how much did you think you guys lacked some of the aggressiveness that you’ve had in the past?

“I thought we moved that ball, that was not the issue. It is just the fact that our red zone production is not where it needs to be. Aggression, I am not sure what that means. We are talking shots or down the field, we took quite a few. We have a gameplan that we’re trying to execute and when you get behind, it changes some stuff and you have to adapt to that. That goes back to red zone production. I thought that we were aggressive. It is up to us to get the ball in the red zone when we need to be there.”

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