/Media Conversation With Saints Sean Payton

Media Conversation With Saints Sean Payton

RE: Getting back into a routine

“I think the thing we tried to do is essentially treat today like it was Wednesday. We’ve done this before on a short week. It just basically pushes the schedule back a day. Tomorrow for us will be a Thursday schedule, and we’ll practice a little bit more on Saturday than we normally would.”


RE: If there is a sense of cramming in a short week

“I don’t think so because of what we’re doing. I think the schedule purposely is trying to avoid that. There was a time probably where you’d come back after a West Coast Monday night game and get in Tuesday morning, and still try to practice on Wednesday. I think that just from a preparation standpoint, you’re then kind of cramming. But the schedule basically when we got in on Tuesday having spent the night in Seattle we kind of came into the office and began work. The players were off Tuesday and got treatment. Wednesday they were off. Wednesday we treated much like a Tuesday in that it was our game plan day. It just moved everything back a day.”


RE: The airport experience in Seattle following the Monday night game

“It ended up really not being a big issue, and I say that in the sense that we’ve got a real good advance crew. We’ve relocated for a number of times, whether a hurricane’s been in the Gulf; we’ve had to switch gears and maybe change plans. I think the hardest thing was coming off a tough loss like that, and then kind of having that wait-around time. But we were able to find hotels and get some sleep, and then travel the next day. So I think all things considered it worked out as best as it could.”


RE: Playing in multiple primetime games

“Those are good challenges. I think if you start playing a ton of Sundays 1 Eastern, 12-noon Central, then you probably won’t get a chance to do it for too long. We talked about that early when we got here in ’06. That initial schedule came out; I’ll never forget looking at it. Every game was at 12-noon, there was one Monday night game and that was it. But it means that they’re relevant. The people that flexed this game felt like New Orleans and Carolina was a game that people wanted to see. I’d rather that than the alternative.”


RE: Improving on offense against the Panthers defense

“There’s a lot of things that we need to improve on. I would say this though: Carolina’s playing with a ton of confidence. They’re playing exceptionally well fundamentally. You see them get to the ball; generally any really good defense gets to the ball and plays with high energy and effort. They’re very well-coached. They’ve got a great group when you look at their talent, so they’re able to apply pressure to the quarterback without necessarily having to blitz. The linebackers are doing a great job. At inside, you can see the confidence Kuechly has. He does a great job of diagnosing formations that complement the back end very well. All the things good defenses do; they get off the field on third down, they’re stingy in the red zone, they create turnovers. I think more than anything you’re seeing that from this team they’re playing a very complimentary game. In other words, offensively and defensively along with the kicking game, those are all things that are leading to the success they’ve had.”


RE: Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly

“He’s got great instincts. He doesn’t leave the field. So number one, he’s someone that can look closely at formations, blitz, back-sets, and based on his study, have a great grasp as to what play might be coming. He can run extremely well. He’s a physical tackler. All the things you look for from an inside linebacker, those traits are present with him. He’s having a fantastic season. They ask him to do a lot, and he responds and does it in a great fashion.”


RE: Playing the Panthers twice in a 15-day span

“I don’t think it’s that uncommon. I think anytime you’re starting to put a 16-game schedule together and there’s four division teams, I think every year it probably happens if we went back and looked at the divisions and found opponents that a couple weeks later were playing each other. I think more than anything else when the spring comes and the schedule’s released, I think as coaches we look at it to see travel and possibly where are some of the away games. I know that the league has tried to make an emphasis of getting more division games later in the schedule. I think that what these next weeks obviously are going to be important in determining the division championship. We don’t make much of it other than we just know that this is the first game. It’s an important one for both teams.”


RE: The rise of the Panthers this year

“In our division when you look at it historically, all four teams, I mean you take Atlanta a year ago as the number one seed, and yet each division game they played was very contested, very close. In fact their losses came in the division. I think it’s always been a battle. I think the way Carolina finished last year was important, and you’re seeing that now transcend into this season. I think Ron and his staff have done a great job adding the pieces to this year’s team. It’s not uncommon for good teams to all of a sudden get on a roll, and you can see that with Carolina now with the winning streak they’re on. They expect to make plays, and they’ve had to do it in a lot of different ways. But that’s very common when you end up winning as many games in a row as they have. You come from behind with some, you get up early with some. That’s very normal.”


RE: What defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has done for the defense

“I think there were a lot of things about last season that players, coaches want to move on from or wanted to move past. Our team, I credit them for anxiously getting started with the spring and the offseason. I think Rob and his staff on defense have done a good job of really giving his players a plan that they can sink their teeth into that fits their skillsets. I think his personality is contagious. I think he enjoys and has got a lot of passion for the sport, and I think his players feed off that. We spent a lot of time in the spring and in training camp talking about playing complimentary football and what wins in our league. We haven’t been able to do that as consistently as we’d like, and yet we’ve put ourselves in a good position here, just as Carolina has sitting at 9-3.”


RE: Stopping the Panthers offense

“I think the first thing you see is they’re doing a great job protecting the football. They’ve got a lot of weapons. Steve Smith is still playing at a very high level, and is very competitive and gets his touches and is very explosive. The other receivers, you’ve seen LaFell and Ginn. I think number one, it starts with the quarterback with regards to the plays he’s been able to make. He’s brought his team from behind this season, you’ve seen that. He’s been very, very good with his decisions. On the run, he’s someone that will throw it to beat you as well as run it to beat you. So we’re not talking about a player that just looks to run. He’s got the skillset to do both, and he’s been very effective. I think you just go through the lineup. In the offensive line, those guys are experienced. You’ve got probably one of the better centers in our game. The backs we’re very familiar with. This has always been a very tough game for us.”