Payton endorses Saints playing in Baton Rouge, praises Panthers QB Bridgewater

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Saints in empty Superdome
(Photo: Parker Waters)

Entering the bye week, the New Orleans Saints are working on healing injured players to get them back for the NFC South division game at home against Carolina on Oct. 25.

Head coach Sean Payton was asked his thoughts on the potential move of Saints home games to Baton Rouge. His answer was a solid endoresment.

“I don’t think there will be many challenges,” Payton said. “It’s right up the road. You’d be playing on grass outside in a great environment. If it was playing in the Dome with no fans or playing out there with 25,000 of our fans, every one of us would make the second choice. We would embrace it.”

Payton addressed a number of issues Wednesday, including bye week procedures.

“The schedule is a little different because we’re coming off of a Monday game,” Payton said. “Players are in here today. They will be back on Monday for a practice. As coaches, we’ll look at a handful of things that we want to improve on and begin that process when they return.”

Payton then got more specific about what needs to be done with the down time.

“We’ve got to look closely at everything and the details,” Payton said. “We’re 3-2 and yet we just have to improve situationally in a lot of areas. The good news is we’ve got time to do it. That’s going to require the honest evaluation of are we doing things the right way? Are we calling it the right way? Are the right people on the field? We have to answer those questions without any objectivity.”

What has Payton derived from seeing his team overcome 14 and 17 point deficits in its last two games to win?

“There’s a resiliency that was important in bot of those wins,” Payton said. “They weren’t perfect games by any means, certainly not in the early part of the game but yet the second half, fourth quarter, we managed to do what was necessary to get the win. You’re always looking at a glass half empty, half full, but yet we’re still in this race to improve. You have to have that sense of urgency as we start playing better teams.”

The Saints remain dead last in the NFL in allowing opponents to score touchdowns in the red zone.

“It’s not one specific thing,” Payton said. “That’s certainly one of the things we’re discussing that I think needs looked at. We’re far enough in now where it’s not a coincidence, the numbers aren’t a coincidence.”

Then, Payton did get more specific.

“Communication relative to what we’re doing in coverage, our ability to stop the run inside five yards, then, I would say, most specifically, our third down numbers in the red zone are not good and typically, third down is really a four-point play down there,” Payton said. “If you can get off the field there, they’re kicking a field goal. We haven’t forced many field goals right now.”

Then, there are the plays when players have made big plays on blown coverages which have plagued the Saints thus far in 2020.

“It’s one thing if a player’s catching a contested ball. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about a player being wide open, right? Two different throws last week were uncontested, communication issues and things that we have to look at. We’ve got to look at that as coaches. It’s hard for someone to be that open in our league so what are doing? What aren’t we communicating and how can we be more efficient when we play a certain defense?”

Draft picks Adam Trautman was not active while Cesar Ruiz did not start and Zack Baun got limited playing time in the win over the Chargers.

“That’s completely coincidental,” Payton said. “Zack Baun played more in this game than he had to date. Trautman was more about what we wanted to do, relative to the tight ends and the run or passing game.”

Looking ahead to the game with Carolina a week from Sunday, the Saints will face Teddy Bridgewater, who went 5-0 as a starter for New Orleans in 2019.

“It’s good to see him doing well and it’s not a surprise,” Payton said. “He’s a fantastic leader, a real good player. You wish he’d gone out of the division. The timing this offseason was going to be difficult, period. Sometimes, you can’t control that, relative to his opportunity and to where we were.”

Payton knew that he had a potential keeper in Bridgewater.

“We felt like here is a young, talented quarterback,” Payton said. “The biggest question was his health. That was answered in the preseason. He’s a very good leader. He’s witty. He’s got a smile about him and he’s easy to follow. Players want to follow him. He picks things up real fast. All of the above. Those are all traits that have served him well.”

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

CEO/Owner

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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