Saints coach Sean Payton said Monday night's game with the Falcons is "pretty simple when you look at the whole picture.
"The important thing (not the playoff possibilities) for us is playing the game this weekend. There are two division games left and the key for us is to get our 11th win. And right now that's our first opportunity to do that in a primetime game.
"We're excited about the game and we know it's a big challenge going there and playing the team we're playing." It's Shssssss when it comes to playoff talk,
The coach said cornerback Jabari Greer has a knee injury, but didn't go into details, and that the Saints' didn't tackle as well as we (coaches) would have liked. He said the three personal fouls were "big chucks of yardage" to lose.
There was a lot of jawing between the players after whistles, but the coach said there no penalties called for the "chirping" and he didn't think it was significant in the game.
The Saints' running game now ranks 26th in the NFL.
Here are Payton comments on the upcoming game with the Falcons, the playoffs, and the team's practice schedule for the Monday night game:
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Monday, December 20, 2010
“From a schedule standpoint, Thursday will be out first day back as base, Friday in the nickel, Saturday in our goal line, red zone and short yardage. That practice will be later than our normal third practice of the week and on Sunday we’ll finish up and travel Sunday afternoon. (There’s) nothing new on an injury note. In regards to Jabari (Greer), the test results we received were all negative. We’ll just see where he’s at.”
What specifically is Jabari’s injury?
After looking back at the film, were missed tackles a problem?
“Clearly we didn’t feel like we played, wrapped up and tackled as well as would have liked. There were some big runs in that game that swung the field position. Our standard is high. We feel like we can certainly defend that aspect of it better and so that was one of a handful of things. We didn’t make big plays offensively. We didn’t capitalize on some field position opportunities when we had a chance and overall we’ll have a chance to look through this with our players, go over it closely and make the corrections and then get on to Atlanta. It was a hard fought game. It was disappointing because it was a close game. Yet, there a handful of things we have to do a better job with.”
While the running numbers were skewed because you were playing catch up, does any of it have to do with getting Pierre Thomas back to health?
“Number one, you’re just getting back into it, but part of it was the plan going in. Just looking at what we wanted to accomplish, what we were trying to do and the type of game we wanted to play. He’s acclimated himself well. He’s doing well and I’m sure as we finish up these next two regular season games there will be more opportunities for him, certainly in the run game.”
The no huddle seemed effective. Why didn’t you use it more?
“We had gone into the game with the idea we were going to use it. The challenge is that you have to be smart. If you decide to use it and your defense needs rest because they’ve been out on the field, you can be right back out on the field defensively. There was a time in the game in the first half where we were contemplating going into it and our defense was on the field. We stayed away from it. We used it at the end of the second quarter and then hurried up a few other times. But that was our plan going in.”
As far as the big plays on defense and breakdowns, what were some of the things you saw?
“Again, you get back to the tackling. We had some penalties that led to field position changes. There were three personal fouls that took place. Those were big chunks and there were a few big pass plays, like the 3rd-and-10 with Ray Rice on the long touchdown pass and the delayed long pass they throw out of the backfield that looked more like a high play that ends up being a long touchdown pass. Those are things that we will clean up today. Back to just the opportunities, we had some minus yardage plays which was disappointing. We got ourselves back into the game. We just weren’t able to get ahead.”
There was a lot of jawing after the whistle. Could you have handled that better as a team?
“I don’t know that it was significant at all in this game. I think it was two good teams. I didn’t see that being a big issue.”
Even the penalties?
“But there weren’t any penalties resulting from the (jawing). I think the penalties were a late hit. I didn’t see any unsportsmanlike penalties for taunting unless I missed anything.”
Can you talk about Lance Moore’s play this season, including the touchdown catch yesterday?
“It was an amazing play. He’s doing a very good job. He’s consistent in the nickel. He has strong hands and he’s been one of those guys who has been extremely dependable through the course of the year. That’s something that’s encouraging and it’s something that is a credit to his work, his training. He’s stayed in great shape. He’s been healthy. He’s clearly one of Drew’s (Brees) favorite targets. He does the right thing most often, almost all the time.”
A week ago you weren’t looking as far ahead to talk about the playoffs. What about now?
“No, I think it’s pretty simple when you look at the whole picture. The important thing is playing this game this weekend and there are two division games left and the key for us is to get to our 11th win and right now that first opportunity comes versus Atlanta on Monday in a primetime game. We’re excited about it. We know it’s a big challenge going there and the team we’re playing.”
Do you just look at the game as looking for your 11th win and you’re in?
“I don’t even look at it that way really. We’re constantly trying to give ourselves the best chance to have success. That means winning as many games as you can to get to that position. So, I know there are a number of formulas in regards to ways of looking at it, but really it’s the next team. There are a lot of hypotheticals.”
Were the minus plays by the offense a case of them trying to make something happen or plays made by the Ravens defense?
“Baltimore’s a very good defense. There were a handful of plays that ended up being not necessarily a sack. It might have been a loss of yards on the screen play versus the zone pressure. We got in kind of a threatening position and then we weren’t able to come away from it with points. That’s what I was really referring to. They’re a very good defense. They pressure quite a bit with some of their man coverages. They gave some zero-deep looks as well. We were able to come up with some plays, but we weren’t able to come up with as many of them. We wanted this game to be an up-tempo game. We wanted to make this game one that was a back and forth game played as opposed to that ball control. We wanted this game to have a lot of snaps. We got some of that, but not enough of it offensively.”
Where is Courtney Roby at with the league evaluations?
“He’s done that and cleared.”
Is there a feeling in the locker room of wanting to get revenge on the Falcons after losing to them earlier in the season?
“I think the mindset of the team would be that we’re playing a good team that is playing very well right now. With the taste of the loss that we just had, guys will be anxious to get back out and go to work, practice and make the corrections knowing that this is a Monday night game against a division rival, a team that is playing very well. I think that’s enough. I don’t think they look back at it. There’s a certain respect level for a team that’s playing well and I think it’s viewed that way.”
Does the fact that you might see them again later in the playoffs factor into it?
“In our league, it’s about getting yourself prepared mentally and physically ready to play your best game. When you play a team that has won 12 games you know that you’re going to have to be prepared; you’re going to have to play football; correct some of the things that we didn’t do a good enough job with this past weekend. But we’re trying to get to the 11th win; that’s the most important thing for our team.”
You have made a practice of backing up losses with good performances. What do you attribute that to?
“I think the most important thing is – even after a win – that you need to come in and not fool yourselves. There are a lot of things after wins that need to be corrected that go not talked or written about that we have to look at and get cleaned up. The same thing has to happen after a loss; then after that happens today we get on to the next game. It’s a long season; it’s a very long season and if you dwell on it or if you hang on it too long or if you try to create more from it, then it can lead to the next game. It’s no different than in a game we’re always talking about getting on to the next play and I think you have to in the course of a season. This is a real important game coming up and that’s how we look at them. More than anything else, I think it’s just being honest with the players and making sure that you’re that way consistently; not only in your losses but also in your wins. Each Monday you come in after a game, look at it and make the corrections.”
How close was Anthony Hargrove to being able to play yesterday? Did he work out before the game?
“I would have said he would have been close and then the night before he had some swelling and some irritation and then the morning of the game we felt like he wasn’t going to go. He did work out but we held him back.”
Is there anything that you can tell your players drawing from the end of yesterday’s Eagles-Giants game?
“Each week there’s a finish, each week there’s a clip, each week there’s a play or an instance that we’ll try to take – we’ve seen a number of them this year that you’ll point to and recognize if they come up. It might be every six years that it comes up, but those situations we clip out and talk about and make sure that guys understand. We’ve seen the ball intercepted with the team going to win the game if they just slide but it gets stripped and recovered and the other team wins. I haven’t seen (the Giants-Eagles finish), I’ve just seen part of the highlights. I really wasn’t on top of how much time was left when they punted, so you’re punting there as opposed to if it was five seconds left and you could run a last play and throw it out of bounds. In that game and in a couple of other games you’ve seen 21-point leads very quickly dissipate and that kind of momentum exists. That’s why it’s important to constantly pay attention to finishing in those situations. I’m sure that was a tough loss and a tough way to lose.”
How close was Chris Ivory to playing yesterday?
“Probably similar to Hargrove. We didn’t even work Ivory out, really. We were hoping he would feel better in the morning but I think he’ll be closer this week.”
The television cameras picked up Pierson Prioleau before a kickoff return jawing with the Baltimore bench. Did you hear anything about that and did you talk with him?
“I saw a lot of chirping going on at one point in the game while there was a clock stoppage or on kick returns. I made a point to just address it. When you get two competitive teams like that together, it’s not unusual. I thought the officials called a good game. I thought where the penalty flags were thrown, they were correctly thrown. I thought they called a good game.”
When you miss tackles and don’t defend the run well this late in the season, what can be done during the week to address that?
“Number one, you can look closely at your run periods. You can be in shoulder pads. Just like any other aspect of what you do practice-wise, you spend more time fitting the run.”
The officials made an explanation early in the game on a punt where there were penalties on both teams and the receiving team had chosen to offset the penalties. Did you have another option on that?
“The option was – and I wasn’t aware that we’d have an option since there were two penalties, one on us and one on them, so I just assumed that they would offset. Obviously we didn’t want the ball where it was downed, so we had them punt it again. There was something about the specific penalty that warranted him coming to me and giving me a choice. Normally it would be an automatic decision.”
Why might it be fair or unfair to look at the offense rushing for 96 yards a game and ranking 26th in the league?
“Early in the year we didn’t rush the ball as effectively as would have liked and then I think in the last five or six weeks we’d be in the top third of the league in regards to yards per carry. Again, each game takes on a certain personality and that’s an area that we feel is important to winning football. We’ve been able to get to 10 wins now and certainly like to be rushing the ball better and more efficiently. We look to start that again with the game against Atlanta this week. But I don’t want to point to any one specific area. Part of it is me calling more run opportunities. We’ve been banged up at that position to some extent and I do think we’ve run it better; if you look closely at the last six or seven games, I think you’d find that.”