Payton is first:
Is the challenge you face with Frank Gore similar to the challenge from Adrian Peterson last week?
"They are a little different type of runners and yet there's that similar challenge in that you're talking about an elite back.
We had a chance to coach Frank in the Pro Bowl in '06 and he runs with power. He has real good vision and balance and he's someone that seems to improve as the game goes on. You would say that he's one of those types of runners. So it'll be a full game and we'll have our hands full with his ability to run the football."
Is a team with a combination of running back and tight end like the 49ers have a challenge against a linebacking corps?
"It certainly can. In any good play-action, most often the tight ends are involved in the progression so you get stress from both ends. We'll have to a do a good job of matching up, mixing it up and being able to handle our correct fits and being able to do all of the things necessary to play good defense against these guys."
How did Jo-Lonn Dunbar play last week?
"He did well. We got into and out of a number of packages and he handled it well. He has started before for us, but to answer your question, he played well the other night."
How do you handle the week after a loss? Do you put any increased significance on the next game? Do you think playing a team like San Francisco coming off a loss like they are is even more dangerous?
"The things you try to do that you have to be consistent in your approach with the film study the next day. After a win, you need to look closely at the things you have to improve on. Generally, the film is never as good as you thought after a win and you know that they'll be ready, especially when they're opening up at home on Monday night in a primetime game. This is a team that played very well down the stretch last year and is a team that expects to win each week. You saw that as the season finished last year and when you open this year, it's always tough when you don't start with a win. We have a lot of respect for the team that we're getting ready to play and going on the road on a Monday night, we understand the challenge with that."
What are your thoughts on Reggie Bush giving the Heisman Trophy back?
"More than anything else, it's how he's doing. He has matured a ton since we drafted him here. It would be smart of me not to get into my thoughts on the fact that he's returned it and I understand why. That's something that he'll live with and I think his statement the other day was right on. He has really turned the page as he's come here and he's never moved on from that. As much as anything, as his coach I'm disappointed for him and I feel for him.
How's he doing?
"He's doing real well."
What kind of a challenge is it to a coach going from the last couple of weeks of preseason to having the big season-opener and then having 10 or 11 days before your next game and making sure your team is ready to go on Monday night?
"It's interesting. In 2006 when we first got there, the schedule came out and you looked down and every game was 1 or noon. We had the one Monday night game to open up the Superdome, but outside of that, everything was a 1 or noon until later when they flexed some games. If that's the case, you probably weren't winning a lot of games the year prior. When you start to have success, part of what of comes with it are the Thursday night, Thanksgivings, the Monday nights, the Monday night games are on the road. It's really where you want to be and yet you understand that there are certain challenges with that.
"Oftentimes, whether it's the travel, whether it's the short week, the long week, opening the season on a Thursday night and you don't have your full practice squad in to start practicing, logistically what we try to do as best we can is to get our routine that we know as quickly as possible and then still be flexible enough to adjust. The advantage of the Thursday night game was that we had additional time for this game so some players were able to get a little healthier and we had that much more time in regards to putting a plan together. But then after we play Monday, we travel back from the West Coast and get in really Tuesday morning and get ready to play Atlanta. It's just dealing with the logistics and trying to really make each week as best you can what you're used to as a routine."
Brees is up:
What are your thoughts on Reggie Bush's decision with the Heisman Trophy?
"I know this has been a tough ordeal for him. Our whole team has supported him through it and he's done and said everything he's needed to say at this point. We're just trying to be supportive as possible.
What's the checklist for a quarterback in facing a 3-4 after a 4-3?
"You try to kind if visualize that 3-4 as a 4-3 who becomes the fourth pass rusher in a 3-4 and just understanding how a 3-4 defense brings pressure and typically variables to almost seeing like they are bringing more than they are."
When you're playing that type of defense will Gregg Williams put that on the scout team to give you a preview of that kind of look?
"No, we have the scout teams run the defense or offense against us that we're going to see a lot of it is on cards which will tell them where to go. You might coach up if their pressure us a little different of anything they do, you explain how they do it, they try to give us that look in practice as realistic as possible.
What type of challenges does Patrick Willis give?
"You can tell he's a tough, physical player. He's an extremely fast, athletic player who doesn't miss many tackles, he's got good ball hands. As far as him in coverage, his awareness and instincts. He just has a lot of natural ability. You can tell they use him in a lot of different ways. Normally knowing where he is on the field is important.
How eager are you to get back on the field after some of your offensive struggles last week?
"Every time we step on the field we want to get a little better. Last week, coming off the field it didn't feel like it was a 14-point game. There should have been at least 24 or 28 points on the board. It is what it is. We missed some third downs we probably wished we have had back or executed a little better. There were penalties that killed some drives and some execution. We're putting a big emphasis on that this week and just knowing that you have to be more polished."
Has this been odd having such a long stretch between games and what did you do over the three-day weekend?
"i was here In New Orleans and just relaxed. That Minnesota week almost felt like Super Bowl week because of the media hype and blitz and everything, but just also because your routine totally get thrown off. You almost have to create a whole new routine for that week, because typically you come off the last preseason game and get three days to relax and kind of refresh coming off training camp and the end of the preseason and you get started on the next week's opponent on Monday,
"That week kind of put us a week later for us to play on Thursday night, but the fact we played at the Dome, we just kind of made adjustments that had to be made.
Prediction: Saints will cover the five points (best bet).
By Ed Staton
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