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01 October 2014

Week 5 Conference Call Transcripts: at New Orleans (10/5/14)

HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON
                                           
(On what the key factor is to New Orleans’ slow start)
“There’s always a few things that keep you from winning, specifically whether it’s finishing in the fourth quarter – we’ve been a couple of close games – our two-minute defense. I think the single most thing that stands out is the lack of takeaways and the turnovers. Those are usually pretty good recipes for losing football games in our league and that’s something that we’ve got to get corrected.”
 
(On New Orleans’ pass rush)
“I think there’s some back-and-forth. I would say average at best right now. Part of that is getting to those passing situations and…we’re playing teams that have become one-dimensional. If you’re struggling on first and second down, oftentimes, your third down totals are less, and then when you’re defending third down, you’re defining two to three, four to six. So I think that’s certainly been one factor, and then the second factor is we haven’t played with that second half 14-point lead or 17-point lead where a team then has to begin throwing it like we did last week against Dallas. So all those things go hand-in-hand.”
 
(On how he prepares his team when going on the road into a hostile environment)
“Teams have gotten very good at becoming acclimated with the silent snap count and teams have gotten real good at practicing that environment. We work throughout the work week, generally, with the crowd noise if we’re traveling; the offense is working through it. And then for at home, the defense is working through it because it can be just as challenging with regards to adjustments and things that can take place defensively. But you have to have poise, you have to be patient. You know that this momentum in the game swings back-and-forth, and you’ve got to be able to handle – especially for us going on the road – handle those early momentum swings. Last week, we weren’t able to do that at Dallas.”
 
(On why he thinks there is such a big disparity in New Orleans’ performance at home and on the road)
“I think going back to 2006, we’ve been real good in both areas. Now more recently, and I’ve said this before, if you’re not playing exceptionally well on the road, you probably don’t have an exceptional football team. Last year, we were able to get into the postseason – in fact, won our first postseason game on the road in Philadelphia and then lost to Seattle – but what I mean by that is generally, the better teams are able to travel and play with confidence. We had two close losses a year ago at Carolina and New England and we weren’t able to finish the way we’d like. So I don’t know if last weekend’s game in Dallas, if that were played in New Orleans or in the North Pole, if we played the way we did, the results would’ve been the same.”
 
(On quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Josh McCown)
“I’ve had a chance – just because of the division and certainly the ties with Josh and Luke [McCown] – I’ve seen him a lot on film at Chicago and more recently with Tampa. And then Mike Glennon is someone that we graded and spent a lot of time looking at and played against last year. Both are talented players and we’ll have to be prepared for either. Certainly, when we watch the tape from last week, it was obvious that they were able to rally back and get into that game. Mike made the throws necessary and overall, offensively and defensively, they came out with a win in a tough environment to play. So that was impressive. Josh is someone that when you look at his body of work, is clearly a winner and I’m sure a big reason why Lovie brought him there. I think it’s hard for us to deal with the hypotheticals with regards to the injury, but I think more importantly, defensively, we prepare for Tampa’s offense and then recognizing there’s some nuances between the two. It would be much more challenging if you were dealing with an entirely different type quarterback, mobility-wise or someone that was a run threat or a different style of player. But I think we’ve got to prepare for Tampa’s offense.”
 
(On why he thinks NFC South teams have struggled so far)
“I don’t know if there’s any specific reason. I think it’s after four games. There’s a couple of 2-2 teams and a couple of 1-3 teams. Obviously, both Tampa and ourselves have lost some tough games and we’ve also lost a game going away. I think history tells you that the team that’s able to improve week-to-week and make those corrections and show improvement and stay healthy and all those other things that are necessary. Carolina sat at 1-3 this time last year, we were 4-0, and Carolina ended up winning the division. So it’s a long season. But that being said, there is a sense of urgency to improve.”
 
(On why there has been a lack of explosive plays for New Orleans this season)
“I think that’s a good question. The two areas offensively that stand out are the turnovers and the lack of big plays with regard to the pass. Part of it is our possession and snaps are down, but I think each week we look to make a point of emphasis of how we can extend the ball down the field. I think defenses have been, at times, good at keeping in front. We’ve have some opportunities, particularly in Atlanta. But it’s something we’ve talked about. In today’s morning meeting – as you point out – the areas we did just a little comparison four weeks into the ’14 season compared to this time last year when we were sitting at 4-0. We’ve made those same comparisons offensively, defensively and in the kicking game and looked at some of the numbers. Some of them are painful to get; it’s like getting that first-quarter grade: it’s not what you want to hear, but yet it’s necessary to enact change. So hopefully we can improve on that.”
 
(On Brees’ record of game-winning drives)
“Number one, he’s a very good player. I think that there’s a confidence level with him in that he’s able to operate very consistently from ahead or from behind, so he’s trained himself for a certain tempo that he plays with. One of the things I think that is a great strength of his, if you’re ever watching him play, you would be hard pressed just looking at him to know if we were ahead two touchdowns or down. So, his body language – he’s someone who I know sees good things happening and sees himself being successful. Part of that is confidence from having past success, but his preparation and his awareness situationally in games – he’s played in playoff games, he’s played in the Super Bowl, and operated under pressure – I’m sure that builds a level of confidence, especially when it comes to that position.”
 
(On Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon)
“I think he’s got good arm strength and I think he also understands the scheme and where we wants to go, his location down the field in last week’s game was outstanding, even on one [pass] that was ruled out of bounds. He’s someone that, athletically, can get set and get rid of the football, even in pressure situations with maybe an unblocked player or a defensive blitz. He seems poised and he’s able to locate and target where he wants to go with it. He certainly has the arm; he’s got the range. We felt like, in his rookie year, he played very well last year when we saw the film and studied him.”
 
(On safety Jairus Byrd, son of Tampa Bay cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd)
“He’s doing well. He’s one of those guys that provides that leadership. He’s got a very calm demeanor and I think when we acquired him one of the things most impressive about him was his ability to get to the ball, find the ball. He has had one strip-fumble right now already. The ball seems to find him a lot and he’s got very good hands. I’m sure not only on the football field, but in life in general, his father has [had] a great impact on him and influence on him, because he’s a true pro. He’s competing in practice, obviously wants to see the results and see our team do better. We’re a better team for having him.”
 
QUARTERBACK DREW BREES
 
(On New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham)
“Well, he’s obviously got all the physical tools. He’s 6-6, 260 pounds, he can run like a deer, go up and high point the ball. I’d say more so than that though, he’s just a fiery competitor. He’s really learned how to become a great professional. I like the way he prepares, I like the way he studies, I like the way he takes care of his body – he just handles himself like a true pro. He loves to compete. He’s passionate about the game and about trying to be a great player and doing whatever he can for the team. I could not ask for a better teammate or a better player.”
 
(On if he has noticed Tampa Bay having trouble defending tight ends)
“Not necessarily. I guess that hasn’t really jumped out at me. Bottom line is, we go into every game just trying to get the ball to different guys based upon what we’ve seen and just because that’s what we do. Of course we’re going to try to get Jimmy his touches, we’re going to try to get Marques [Colston] his touches, we’re going to get the running backs their touches, we’re going to get some of these younger receivers their touches. We kind of go into a game with the mindset that we’re going to spread the ball around regardless.”
 
(On wide receiver Brandin Cooks)
“He’s been really productive. I tell you what, he is a smart guys. He’s extremely intelligent. He’s very talented; he can do a lot of things, and I think a lot of that is because of his intelligence. We can put him in multiple receiver positions, we can line him up all over the field. He’s one of those guys who never makes a mistake twice. You tell him something one time and he’s got it. He works extremely hard at it. Again, couldn’t ask for more in a young receiver, just his work ethic and his desire to really fit into this offense. Certainly he’s been very productive as well.”
 
(On factors for success in two-minute situations)
“So much of a two-minute drill is just you managing a situation. You know you’re going to go down and score and now it’s a matter of figuring how to do it. How much time is on the clock, how many timeouts you’ve got, what kind of chances you’re able to take, where your matchups are, how the defense has been playing you, what scares them about you – I mean, all those things throughout the course of a game that you learn and gain, it all kind of applies for that last drive. There’s a lot of confidence that comes with that, though. Confidence in the scheme that you’re running, what you’re calling and who you’re throwing the ball to.”
 
(On the discrepancy between New Orleans’ road and home records)
“Here’s the funny thing – well, it’s not funny because we’ve lost a bunch on the road lately – but I’d say up until midway through the season last year, I think we had the second-best road record in the league for like the previous five years. Then, for some reason, last half of the season last year we were terrible on the road and, obviously this season we’ve been terrible on the road. [Not] terrible, I mean, we just haven’t won many games. That’s disappointing. Offensively, I think we – last year it being the year we did not handle the elements very well. The communication was a bit lacking and just some other things. This year I think we’ve made big improvements in regard to that, but, for one reason or another, I feel like maybe we’ve had fewer opportunities and just haven’t made the most of the opportunities that we did have. I’m not going to overreact, but certainly there are some little things we can get better at in that regard.”
 
(On whether Tampa Bay having a new coaching staff, players and scheme makes game planning more difficult)
“It does. I have a lot of respect for Lovie Smith. I think he’s a terrific football coach. I think he goes out and finds the right kind of people and I respect his scheme. We played against him a bunch when he was with the Bears and he kind of gave us fits. We know the type of team they can be. Obviously they have had a tough run just like we have this first part of the season, but they are looking to turn it around like we are, so we expect their best game.”
 
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