Q&A: Sean Payton on day after Saints’ 48-40 loss to Bucs

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New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, September 10, 2018

Was there anything that stuck out on film in regards to the pass defense?
“Number one, our pass rush plan hurt us at times. There were some pivotal moments where the quarterback was able to flush and do enough damage to earn a third down (conversion) or gain a first down. We struggled in coverage. Our technique wasn’t great. Our disruption plan at the line of scrimmage with the release patterns, one of the goals in this game was to limit the explosives and we didn’t do that. There weren’t a lot of positives. Today’s a tough day in our league obviously after a loss like that. But we have to make a number of corrections. It wasn’t a good tape. It was not a good film. I think that the other element about it, and we’ve been on the other side of this in a game like that, there were not as many third downs. In other words, we want to get off the field on third down and yet the production they were having on first and second down, really became troublesome.”

It looked like that first explosive play for Tampa Bay, a 58-yard touchdown play from Ryan Fitzpatrick to DeSean Jackson involved a coverage breakdown or a missed assignment. Were there are a lot of those?
“No, I would say there were not as many breakdowns, that one specifically there was, and yet we don’t get a good reroute. Fitzpatrick had a hot hand and played exceptionally well. Sometimes the day after we as coaches look closely at how we can make corrections and we have to. But to your question, there were not as many communication or coverage busts as there was technique pressure (issues). We start before we even meet with the players on things that we as a staff can do better. I felt like we took a lot of snaps there defensively and I felt like as the game wore on. our pass rush deteriorated and I felt like that really put stress on the back end too. Overall our pad level was high. The early run defense we struggled, offensively we had a little momentum there, then we kind of went on a lull in (the) second quarter through the third quarter. Our turnovers show up there with the (first half) fumble and then later the other fumble, so there’s a lot we have to clean up today. To your question, I don’t feel like we dropped coverage in regard to an assignment as much as our technique needs to improve and that would be the starting point.”

With the feeling that it being a technique issue, I don’t want to say an easy fix, but do you feel like it’s something that you can get to and clean up fairly soon?
“The first thing I said this morning was, ‘it is oftentimes said that these early weeks of the season your team can improve a lot.’ I believe that to be true. Now, if that is to happen then today has to be a day where we’re willing to shoulder and not deflect (constructive criticism). That is me as the head coach and everyone in that room. What I mean by that shoulder, is accept ‘hey I have to do this better, I have to find a way to improve this rather than try to deflect.’ I think the mood from everyone down there’s disappointment. They know it’s going to be a tough film and yet this turnaround is going to be quick and we’re going to get ready to obviously play better next week.”

Alvin [Kamara] and Mike [Gillislee] were obviously a huge part of what you did yesterday offensively initially, was that kind of out of necessity they then didn’t get the ball on the ground as much?
“It’s not the design. We had our opening series scripted, that went smooth. Most of the first quarter, early on based on what they were doing we were going to throw it a little bit more kind of go after a few of the personnel matchups we like. I hate when a game becomes one-dimensional and we’ve just experienced that too often. It becomes more of a 50/50 proposition. I wouldn’t say that game unfolded the way we would have liked certainly into the second quarter in the second half.”

With Alvin Kamara in particular, was that more snaps than you wanted to give him when you were talking about his workload with Mark Ingram out?
“I think he had about 50, 51. Probably up ten from his normal average. I think he is somewhere in that 40 count. I just asked them (coaches) to give me the study all of last year, you can pull up certain games, the first part of the season when Adrian [Peterson] was here along with Mark (Ingram), the snap count was a little lower, it varied. Just talking about being on the field, I felt like he’s in excellent shape and I thought he played exceptionally well yesterday. And yet, it turned into one of those space matchup games where we were throwing it more than we’d like.”

When he can affect the game so much with those explosive plays, is that really hard for you as a coach to try to limit his workload?
“Yes it is, but the challenge is there are a number of plays you want him in and yet, there can be diminished returns if you are not careful and so we will be smart that way. We spent a lot of the weekend discussion relative to (Mike) Gillislee and J-Dub (Jonathan Williams). I would have liked to have seen their numbers been higher because that would have indicated more of our plan relative to run and pass, not just run with those other guys. There’s things we’ll do with those other players in the game, but that balance is important.”

Do you think your offensive line held up against that Buccaneers pass rush?
“Yes, I thought there was a few times where Drew [Brees] was hurried. I think one of them we could correct with just a simple snap count issue. I think they blocked well. That’s a good front. I think Drew took advantage of the time in the pocket and I was encouraged just to see Drew’s movement at times when he had to move or flush and make a play. I thought overall, we came out of it pretty well up there and those guys did a pretty good job. We had a scheme or two that we can tinker with that we didn’t like as much after seeing it on film, but I’m sitting here looking at it for the second time now, and watching these guys on offense. I thought overall I was encouraged.”

Terron Armstead was saying something after the game about how the Bucs were sending a bunch of different guys at Cam Jordan to try to slow him down in the pass rush in disrupting it. Did you see it when you looked back over the game?
“Yes and it’s part of what goes along with being a good pass rusher. I think offensively when we see someone like that, we’re going to have a nudge plan, we are going to have a chip plan. We are going to have two or three things that try to slow down a player who is pretty effective, if you are not careful about it. That probably will not change week to week. That goes with being the type of player he is. I thought overall, we were just average in the front and I think that the explosive plays in the game that it became, made it more difficult.”

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