Asked if was surprised about the Dallas situation, Payton, a former Cowboys assistant, replied "Nothing in the NFL surprises me."
The coach also evaluated where the team stands and gave an injury report during his Q and A:
Coach pleased with consistency on both sides of ball
New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton held his weekly press conference on Monday morning following the club's 34-3 win at the Carolina Panthers heading into their week 10 bye. Payton reviewed yesterday's win, evaluated where the club stands heading into the bye at 6-3 and gave an injury report. Below is a transcript:
“Schedule wise, these guys will be in tomorrow. A handful were in for treatment today, but we’ll look at this game and be meeting on it. There will be a weightlifting session, open locker room at noon and then I’m going to get them out of here for a while. After watching the game tape, I felt they played with good energy. It wasn’t perfect. There were a lot of things that will still be important for us to look at and clean up, but I did think we played with effort. I was encouraged with how we played defensively. Field position was something that was noticeable as you watched the tape. A lot of that game was played on their side of the field and we were able to do that with the kicking game. I thought Thomas (Morstead) did a good job of keeping those guys pinned back. When a mistake’s made, it’s exaggerated then. The interception Jabari (Greer) has ends up resulting in a touchdown. That was encouraging. We ran the ball. I think it’s a good defensive front. Statistically they’ve played well throughout the year despite their record and it was a good division win.”
Would you attribute your defense’s play yesterday to the scheme or also due to the fact that they were missing so many players on offense due to injury?
“They had to. We’ve had to as well. Yesterday was no different. Malcolm (Jenkins) came out with a shoulder. We’ve had to insert players through the course of the season. When your running back (Jonathan) Stewart goes down and then the quarterback, that affects you because those guys have probably taken the bulk of the reps during the course of the week in the practices leading up the game and I think more than anything trying to stay focused on the specific things you can control defensively to play well despite the level of play of your opponent, I think that was something that was important. And I thought that was something we did through the course of the game, regardless of what the score was early and regardless of what the score was late.”
Are you guys not going to practice at all this week?
Was last year the first time you had ever done that?
“Last year, we had maybe a day or two of practice and then we got them out of here. I called Andy Reid. His schedule is pretty interesting. His record after the bye has been pretty successful. I just think with where we’re at right now, also as it pertains to looking at what is two games in a short period of time (with) Seattle on Sunday, Dallas on a Thursday, I just think the treatment, making sure these guys are lifting and running and having a chance to meet with them tomorrow and kind of go through what the plan of attack is in the short team and what it is next week (is important). We’ll have a bonus day of practice next week and then players will be off. Wednesday we’ll be in our normal routine, practice, open to the media, for a normal workweek.”
Is it both the idea and the results from that that you like?
“We did it last year, but more specifically I was thinking about the bye before the Giants game, not as much the playoffs. It was a little different. I think it’s important right now.”
You guys played real well defensively with Darren Sharper out. Now that he’s back, how does that affect your defense?
“It gives you flexibility because Malcolm Jenkins does two things. It would be more challenging in Malcolm played only free safety, but Malcolm can play in the nickel over the slot. He can go out and play corner. He can still play free in the base and give Darren snaps off. I think the key is just monitoring the pitch count for Darren and making sure that he’s healthy and fresh. He had a slight hamstring injury yesterday that should be fine and yet that’s something you have to pay attention to. I think the position flexibility in the secondary, specifically with Malcolm makes for a good fit for Darren and what he’s doing. He can give us red zone snaps at nickel safety, snaps at free safety. He played a little bit more yesterday in the base and that’s a good thing.”
Is he pretty much rounding into form?
“Yes. He’s close. Forget the hamstring for a second that he had. I think you could see he had a jump on one or two balls yesterday that weren’t thrown, but were very close to being thrown and I think it’s coming. I think if you asked him he’d say he feels pretty good. Obviously he missed the training camp so you start trying to look at weeks back, but I think if it’s not 100 percent, I think he’s close to it.”
After all the hand wringing that went on where people were wondering when the Saints would come back to be their normal selves, how gratifying is it to you that you are 6-3 and in a good position going into the bye week?
“You want to look closely and improve each week. You understand that your expectation level is high. Ours is high for ourselves, for our team. It was encouraging to follow up a pretty good win against Pittsburgh with another win yesterday, yet it’s two wins. We’re just past the halfway point. Without getting into a lot of clichés we still have a lot of football to play, a lot in front of us in the way the NFC is shaping up. The month of November is critical. It always has been in regards to separating teams. There are a number of things we have to do better. That will be the emphasis as we get through this bye and lead to Seattle and then the short week after that. There’s still a lot ahead of us, a lot of challenges ahead of us and a lot of work for us to do.”
Do you feel like you’ve gotten some momentum?
“Two games. The Hornets are on a roll with momentum. We’ve won two games in a row. There’s a difference and we hope to stack some games back to back to back and we know what that feels like. We’re encouraged that we went on the road and won a division game. Once again, generally when you have some type of success in a football season, you put together a stretch of wins, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
What do you like with Julius Jones getting more touches and getting more involved in the offense?
“He had some good runs yesterday. I reminded him that in Dallas in ’04 or ’05 we played there on a Christmas Eve and he had over 100 yards at the half against that team on that field. He had a good run to start the game. I thought we had pretty good versatility with all three of those players, Julius, Ladell (Betts) gave us some good rushes and certainly Chris Ivory. I thought up front we did a good job of handling a lot of the movement. It’s a team that has played well defensively. They’ve done a good job of maybe hiding some of their weaknesses with a lot of line movements, some pressures. It’s a good group of linebackers. There are at times some chaos with who you’re blocking because of the movement. I thought we handled it pretty well. The first play at the line of scrimmage was a weak blitz and our guys adjusted well to it. Julius found a crease. It was good to see him get in the open field and start the game with that big run.”
You’ve been able to put up some points against two good defenses for two straight weeks. Does that make you feel good?
“It’s a good defense. Despite the way their season is going, it’s a very good defense. It’s an experienced secondary. (Jon) Beason is someone that’s hard to get a hat on. You see him involved in a lot of plays and we started out with a little back and forth to the early portion of that game. We had that first turnover which is an unusual play. It’s a running play designed and Drew has that option of throwing the weakside bullet rather than running it into a blitz. We just had trouble with the exchange. The ball comes out a little bit late and ends up being an interception. We settled into a rhythm. When you watch the tape, it does bring out things that we can do a better job with that I think our guys will see tomorrow.”
What worries you most about the injuries that the team suffered yesterday?
“Fortunately they’re coming at the bye. In Jeremy (Shockey)’s case, he has a lot of soreness right down in the lower portion of his ribcage; that second rib from the bottom is bruised. He did go to the hospital to make sure that it wasn’t anything more internal and that came clear. Resting that is going to be important and padding it and avoiding contact to that area. Chris Ivory I think will fare pretty well coming off of this bye week and Malcolm Jenkins will have to get a lot of treatment with the stinger that he had and just pay attention to that. Those are guys that if we were practicing tomorrow or the next day wouldn’t be involved in practice, but yet we’re optimistic that they will be involved in next week’s practice.”
So Shockey didn’t have any cracks in his ribs?
“No, it was bruised pretty significantly.”
How is Reggie Bush coming along?
“Reggie is doing well. I think both he and Pierre (Thomas) have shown some progress. We worked Reggie out at Carolina; Pierre stayed back for treatment. I saw both of them right before coming in here. I think Reggie’s close; he’d practice this week if we were going and certainly he’ll practice next week. And I optimistic that Pierre will be able to go next week as well but I would say that Reggie’s a little further ahead of him in regards to how they feel today.”
So both of them will practice next week?
“I know Reggie would and Pierre is making progress and just kind of getting over the hump. I was encouraged today with how he was feeling but we’ll still see and make sure that he’s ready before he goes out.”
It seems like the bye week comes at a good time to heal injuries, but do you fear that it could slow your momentum down to have a week off now?
“When the schedule comes out and your bye comes in the middle like ours does, it generally always can be said that it comes at a good time because you’re always going to be sitting here in Week 8 or 9 with two or three guys hurt like yesterday. I think our guys will understand how to handle this time and understand the significance of mentally and physically getting away from it for a while and then getting ready for the second stretch. But I think we’ll be able to handle that. The same thing happened a year ago, but it just came earlier after four weeks.”
Are you annoyed by the scheduling of the bye this week and then having two games in five days when you get back to playing?
“Not really. Typically when you play that Thursday game, one thing they try to be mindful of is not putting you on the road on Sunday and bringing you home and then traveling Thursday. I think it’s expected. It would be unusual to have the bye and then play that Thursday; I don’t think that’s ever happened. We just have to be smart with the schedule. Having been in Dallas and played in that game and understanding some of the things that we did pretty well during that short timeframe or some of the things that were more challenging, you have to monitor how much you put the players on their feet because the big challenge is that you play a game – and we play Seattle at 3:00 – and making sure their bodies are ready for another game in three-and-a-half days. You have to pay attention to that and it becomes more about the mental approach. But I don’t think it was anything we paid attention to when the schedule came out. You saw that you had a home game and I think that’s been pretty normal.”
Does it seem like things are lining up for you where you’re playing well and it looks like you could be getting a lot of your key guys back?
“I don’t know that any one of us have looked at it that way. You pay attention to your division; you pay attention to your own team. We’re just now putting a couple of wins together. Outside of that, the handful of teams in our division our playing pretty well. Atlanta obviously is playing well and Tampa Bay is playing well with a lot of confidence. There are a few things that maybe surprise you in the NFC and the AFC but we just keep working on trying to get better. We feel like we’re going to get a few players back here and I think the bye comes at a good time in regards to that. In regards to the injuries to the running backs, the players that were hurt yesterday and yet we’re not a finished product. There still are a number of things that we’re going to have to do a better job of and we’re going to have to improve on to be more consistent as we play the second half of this season. That’s not just me downplaying it; it’s just a fact. The good news is that we’re within striking distance and we’ve hung in there despite not playing some good football early on. We recognize that; certainly I do.”
How much of a difference did it make that you had faced a Cleveland team that plays with a lot of defenders standing up before going in to play Carolina?
“Carolina has done that before to us, so I wouldn’t say that they took a page out of Cleveland’s plan. Against Carolina year ago, I can recall on the first third down there wasn’t one person in a three-point stance. You kind of have to settle into some base rules in regards to how they rush you, but that has happened a couple of times when we’ve played John (Fox)’s defense where early in the game on third down there are 11 guys standing and then all of a sudden here come five rushing and the rest in coverage. So we saw it again yesterday and we saw it from Cleveland. The coverage behind it was a little different and our offensive line and Drew (Brees) are pretty at sorting that out. We had good protection yesterday which allowed us to get the ball down the field, but it’s something that we’ve seen before and we’ve seen from Carolina on more than one occasion.”
Is there any kind of rule that the defense has to have anyone in a stance?
“No. Offensively there’s a rule in regards to who has to be on the line of scrimmage, but defensively there is none.”
So they can all stand?
Are you stunned by what you’ve seen in Dallas this year?
“I think probably more surprised than anything else, and yet as you guys know, nothing really surprises you. There are always a team or two that plays better than anyone expected and there are always a team or two that doesn’t. You just hope that you’re the team that’s playing better than expected and not the one that isn't. I just saw part of the game last night, and obviously they played a good Green Bay team who is playing very well right now, but outside of that I haven’t seen a lot of their games.”
How tough is it when you lose your quarterback like the Cowboys have?
“I think it’s challenging because of the amount of time…that’s the one guy that’s getting all the snaps; that’s the one guy that’s calling the play in the huddle; that’s the one guy that everything centers around. When that happens at that position, it’s a big challenge for any team. You look around the league and there are a handful of teams that have had to play their backup quarterback and that’s hard. We had a chance to get Chase (Daniel) some work yesterday and that’s good. It was his first real go at it. Brees said on the plane ride home that he’s playing nine or ten years and hasn’t had a 12-yard run and Chase had his first run for 12 yards. But he handled the four-minute pretty well; just in regards to functioning in and out of the huddle and the play-call. All of that stuff he handled pretty well and I was encouraged to see that.”
How did Jimmy Graham play yesterday?
”He just keeps getting better. The one catch that was even more impressive than the touchdown was the third-and-seven or eight that he caught down below his knees. He’s a tremendous worker; he’s very smart; he’s very athletic and he has soft hands. We just have to keep giving him opportunities. It was good to see him come out and make some plays for us because those were big plays. Obviously the touchdown was a big play and the third down conversion was significant. He plays with a lot of confidence. You don’t see a first-year player in his eyes on the sideline or in the huddle, and that’s encouraging.”
Was Jonathan Vilma the one who stripped the football on the Stewart fumble?
“When you see the hit, looking at it three different times, the end result from the hit is that the ball then comes out. The trick there with the challenge is that you have to have evidence that you recovered it. In other words, the angle might show that it was a fumble but if the angle doesn’t show that you recovered it, they’re not going to give you the ball. We felt like we had a couple of angles that showed that. But I would say that Darren Sharper had a lot to do with that.”
When you say that you’ll have an extra day of practice next week, will that be on Monday?
“Correct. We’ve done that before, almost every time we’ve played a Thursday game or whatever. It just gives us an additional day on the opponent.”
THREE YEARS ago, the Dallas Cowboys tried to expand their web presence by acquiring the "Cowboys.com" domain. The only problem was the Cowboys thought they'd bought it for $275, but in reality the price was $275,000. Now, the day after one of the most embarrassing losses in franchise history, the Cowboys are missing out on the spike in traffic that would have occurred at "Dallas Cowboys.com," given the firing of coach Wade Phillips. As it turns out, someone allowed the registration of the domain name to expire. Though the Cowboys will have an opportunity to rectify the situation before someone else can squat on the site, the address currently points to the Network Solutions website. Bottom line? It appears like someone other than Wade Philips should be providing a "vivid example of accountability."...
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