Payton, Cooks, Vaccaro on Monday after dramatic win over Panthers

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Brandin Cooks

Brandin Cooks (Photo: Parker Waters)

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Monday, October 17, 2016

 What did you think of the pass rush when you looked at the tape?

“We had some good moments and yet there are some times where the challenge with Cam (Newton) is trying to keep him in the pocket when he extends plays it becomes a lot more difficult. I though Cam (Jordan) rushed the passer pretty well, (David) Onyemata had some decent snaps, without (Paul) Kruger we were short one defensive end, but I thought the ball was coming out fairly quick. I thought we had our moments, obviously in the second half there were a lot more yards given up.”

How much has the pass rush and passes defensed improved the last few weeks?

“Yeah, there is an attrition I know that, in regards to the quarterback you get a pass that’s thrown quicker than it needs to be because there’s a clock in the quarterback’s head that begins to change and that is every one of them, the great ones. You can’t help but be affected when you’re getting hurried or hustled or hit and I think that in-turn maybe the accuracy to some balls that go high or come out earlier, anytime you have to throw it earlier than later your percentage of completions generally drops a little bit, unless it’s an intense three step or quick throw, but I would say look there’s that common theme of the rush and pass defense and they go hand and hand.”

When you have injuries to the offensive line, how much does it help having guys like (Tim) Lelito and Tony Hills, guys who have been in the pros and started games?

“You want to have some guys obviously with experience, one of the hard things during the NFL season when you’re receiving X amount of reps during the week to prepare for a game, unless you are a veteran player like a Jahri (Evans) or Zach (Strief) because we will spot reps some of those guys or get them some snaps away, but it’s hard for backup players necessarily in positions like (offensive line) that, different than in the secondary where they are going to be playing a few packages, but it’s hard to get snaps to players that maybe are playing in a backup role because maybe there is only so many things you’re wanting to look at and a guy like Andrus (Peat) might take every snap or a good majority of the snaps, so you have to be able to come in and function. Oftentimes you have to come in and function without the practice week that you normally would like to have if you knew you were playing.”

Were you happy with what you saw out of Jake Lampman on special teams?

“Man, he had a real good day. I think the early impressions with Jake (Lampman) well back in training camp was he was someone that could run and play physical and he was able to do that yesterday.”

Are Sheldon Rankins and Delvin Breaux still on the same timetable for a return this week to practice?

“We will keep you posted, we handle it day to day, week to week. Those guys are working hard.”

How would you describe your level of optimism after the win this week?

“I think one of the challenges with a younger team early, when you hit some adversity or you lose some close games is the belief that we just have to finish. We have to be a little bit better, a little bit more thorough, as coaches we have to be a little bit more thorough and that’s this league and we talk about understanding that most of these games thorough the course of the weekend that unfold are coming down to a drive last night, shoot Sunday night’s game, leads evaporate quickly if you’re not careful and I think that firsthand experience and the reps that they are receiving and also the game experience is hopefully helping them develop, but it’s hard as a head coach, back to optimism and pessimism I kind of think forward and think at least, in regards to a glass half full and yet all the way up to an hour before the game and you’re thinking about have I covered the things that need to be discussed, is there something that we haven’t covered enough and that’s our jobs, but it is a very short term week to week process, as opposed to a bigger picture and we said this a few weeks ago heading into a stretch where these are good football teams. When you look at Carolina, Kansas City this week, Seattle. I mean that is our league.”

Did you have a large group of defensive players come in and watch film with coaches today?

“Yes, one of the things that we will do on those type of Mondays is they’ll (players) set the schedule. They all have to get in and get a workout and watch tape a lot of times units will watch it together, so they are communicating and the same thing would take place and wouldn’t be uncommon for a defense or an offense to do the same.”

Do you feel like you have any momentum?

“I think, look we have won two games, two close games. I think there are times in a season when you gain momentum and generally it’s a little further out than where we are at right now with wins and losses. We’ve had runs here in a number of seasons, I don’t know at what point you say they have some momentum, but I think it would be a little too early right now.”

How do you get your guys to start finishing better?

“You work on a handful of things, I think first off offensively, we went through a period there where we weren’t able to do much. We didn’t protect the field positon and even when we’re backed up a couple first downs and a punt puts the field positon back to your favor on their 20 and when you go three and out backed up and you punt it now that midfield starting point puts your defense at a disadvantage. I think overall from a complementary game we have to do a better job in that area (and) time of possession, but if you look back and watch in the second half you’re going to see interference, interference, these interferences that are at the end zone because (they set up) one-yard line handoffs.”

Has challenging pass interference ever been discussed at league meetings?

“Yes, it has been and for good reason and let’s hope that that at some point, sooner rather than later. Listen it’s been brought up and discussed by a number of clubs and I think the competition committee needs to spend a lot more time thinking about that specific call (as it) is so critical to get right.”

Are you going to submit that specific (Kenny) Vaccaro pass interference to the league officiating department?

“No, I have not submitted a play here in 10 years.”

Do you have any update on (Andrus) Peat or Sterling Moore?

“No updates. We’ll keep you posted.”

Was James Laurinaitis not playing  in the game related to performance strictly as opposed to injury?

“No, he is coming off an injury and obviously we had more time with preparation and Craig (Robertson) was receiving most of the reps and James would be ready to go in, so we’ll see how we prepare this week and we will see what we want to do packagewise. We were in mostly two-linebacker looks, with a lot of three-safety looks.”

New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Brandin Cooks

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Monday, October 17, 2016

You offense had 10 different players have a reception in the first half yesterday; what does it do for you when Drew (Brees) has the opportunity to spread it out like he does?

“For us to be able to do something like that, it is great for everyone because it opens up the offense. The defense can’t key on one guy. In my situation, the more guys that make plays, the more we are all able to be involved.”

Why do you think you had so much success with the deep ball yesterday?

“I think we just gameplanned pretty well with that, and just knowing who I was going to get. You have to be patient and pick the right time to call stuff. I think coach did a great job with that. The scheme just worked well and everything just seemed to fit together.”

You had 143 yards in Week One (followed by) a couple of quiet games in the middle, and now 173 yards; is it sort of your lifestyle as the kind of wide receiver you are and the attention defenses pay to you (to have up and down games)? Is it hard to get used to that?

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s hard to get used to it. That’s the name of the game sometimes. In those two games where I didn’t have as successful of a game as you may say, I probably just wasn’t being used right in my opinion. We fixed those things and watched film and just got it fixed. That is what it is all about. I just want to win and that is all that it’s about.”

Can you share with us your ability to set up defenders? Obviously, people know that you want to be able to get deep, and yet you are able to get deep. How much work have you put into working on the other routes, in order to be able to set them up to get deep?

“Like I said before, I do not want to be just a guy that is considered (to be just) a deep ball threat. I feel like I have other weapons in my game to be able to set that deep ball up, whether it is underneath routes so defenders don’t play off. Then, we pick them apart underneath and (are) be able to take those balls and go the distance. That is where (yards after catch) comes into play. That is what I stress to coach and I think that he does a great job of figuring that out. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

That is something that you address with the coaching staff? You think you guys figured out a better mix after the bye week?

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that that is what I brought up. I think that this gameplan during the week, I saw that change. The coaches watch film too. With that being said, they try to do their best to put players in the right position to succeed.”

Does it make a big difference when they are able to use two tight ends more, as they were able to do with Josh Hill coming back?

“Yes, because if you ever have two tight ends like that in the game, you get a lot more different looks, which is great for us. Guys that make plays like Josh Hill and Coby (Fleener), the more consistent that they are out there on the field together, the better our offense is.”

Is that the celebration that you are planning on using the rest of the season?

“I don’t know. I am going to still do a form of it. I’m going to continue to speak my opinion about it. Hopefully, there is a way I can get back to actually shooting the arrow. We’ll find out.”

Have you tried to look in to see if there is someone at the NFL office who you can appeal that to?

“I’m going to have to talk to coach (Payton) about that. I’m pretty sure he knows the direction with that. I’m going to try because of what it means to me. We’ll figure it out. At the same time, I don’t want to be a distraction for the team.”

If someone asks how did you get so open on that 87-yard touchdown yesterday, does you answer begin with sometime way before that play even happened?

“It is just one of those things. I just feel like once again, we set that up in many different ways, whether it was from other games or whatever the case may be. It was just a perfect play call. I wouldn’t necessarily say that anything else had to do with it.”

So it wasn’t a particular move that you put on that guy at that time? There was a bigger picture reason for it?

“There was a bigger picture, yes.”

What would you say the confidence is of the passing game right now?

“It is improving. When you have success like that with everyone on the field and not just a couple of people, you definitely have to say that the passing game is improving. I feel like we weren’t far off from where we are now and we still have room to grow. That is the beauty of it.”

Does winning two straight games give you a lot more optimism about what lies ahead for the team?

“It gives us confidence, there’s no question about it. Whether the game’s close or not – I feel like it’s one of those things where these close games that we’ve won are showing us and building us as a team to learn how to win in the fourth quarter. We have a few games where we lost close like that. Now, it seems like we’re turning things around in our direction and in our favor. Now, we just have to come together as one team with an offense that’s putting up a lot of points and a defense holding opposing teams to less points. I think that is where we are getting to.”

Kenny Vaccaro made a comment about coming in today even though you guys were given the day off; when you hear that as an offensive player who had a very productive day, do you say to those guys don’t be so hard on yourselves or good, you guys should go in?

“You definitely encourage those guys. We encourage each other. We have each other’s backs. There will be games where it’ll seem like the offense can put up as many points as we usually do. We’ll need a defense that stops them. They’ll be games where the defense just can’t hold opponents so we’ll need to score more points. That is what it is all about. We’ve got to play complimentary football. Obviously, we are all going to hold each other accountable to be able to work harder and be able to fix and figure out things. That is what it is all about. We can’t be blind to the situation.”

Michael Thomas seems to be growing each week; what have you seen from him that has led to this impressive start?

“Like you said, he is growing every week. I mean every week. He’s working hard and asking questions. That is what you like to see from a rookie. He’s always in the meetings, being attentive and asking a lot of questions. I feel like those questions that he’s asking are showing up on the film. Now, he’s being more consistent week in and week out.”

How much do you think yesterday’s game was an example of how you, him and Willie (Snead IV) can beat teams in different ways?

“I think it was a great example. The biggest challenge now is to be consistent with that. Not just one week and then here another week. We’ve got to come in every week like that, I feel like.”

New Orleans Saints Safety Kenny Vaccaro

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Monday, October 17, 2016

The quarterback hits for the defense have been way up the last two weeks. Do you feel like the pass rush is starting to get there more?

“Yeah, but I also think DA (Dennis Allen) is doing a great job of scheming up blitzes with the five-man pressures to create confusion with the offense. So guys are getting one on ones and guys are getting free.”

How productive to you think the defense was today in coming in to meet as a group?

“It was good for everyone to see their mistakes as a whole and not just (as) separate groups individually. I think it is better when DA (Dennis Allen) or a position coach gets up and explains it exactly how it is supposed to be done. Especially when you have a lot of younger guys on defense. Sometimes when it is just us players we kind of skim through the game and you don’t notice the corrections that you want. I think it was good for us to come in. Now we can move on to Kansas City.”

Did you get full attendance from the defense or close to it?

“Everybody came.”

How often has that happened in your four years in New Orleans on a Monday following a victory when they are allowed more to come in and get a workout done and watch the film on their own time?


Were you used significantly differently yesterday then you have been this season?

“Yeah, I played everything this game. I played SAM when we need three linebackers in the game. I played SAM sometime. I played WILL on third down. I played nickel on first and second down. Then I played strong safety.”

What was the coaching staffs reaction to the entire defense coming in today to watch film as a group?

“I just asked coach Payton and he was all for it. He said he was fine with that. We just had to coordinate it with the staff meeting and got it done. It was not a big deal. I think it was important for us to go over tape. Sometimes with our victory Monday on Wednesday when we get back in here we go over a few plays on the game but you won’t go over the full thing so it was a good deal.”

How do you evaluate a game like yesterday when you have 13 Quarterback hits, 9 passes defended but you still give up 38 points?

“You take the positives from it, but you really anchor down on the negatives. There were just a lot of plays that they made that were directly related to us playing the wrong technique. It had nothing to do with talent but those guys are going to make great catches. One time you don’t use your help, or play to the right leverage and you are giving up an out with a guy right in front of you that is not acceptable. If you keep doing that in the future, it is going to cost you some games. We need to get that fixed now. It is an easy thing to fix, but it needs to be fixed now.”

The only time you guys locked an opponent down was the Giants game. What did you guys do so effectively that day?

“We really trusted the plan. The Giants game from the bottom to the top of the play call is, pretty much every call was played exactly how it was covered. That is what you get when you do that. They don’t score any TDs. We don’t give up long passes. In games that we have given up a lot of points we have done that. Guys are going to get beat sometimes on planned plays. But everyone needs understand what their role is and how to make plays accordingly.”

What did make of the three pass interference calls?

“When you are going in and Cam (Newton) doesn’t use his feet when he throws so some of the balls are going to be short. So all you have to do is look. Never panic. I knew on mine the ball was going to be short. I knew he was going to throw off his back foot so all I did was look and unfortunately I still got called for it. It is what it is. When the other ones, they were pass interference. Anytime you play into the guy and don’t look back on the ball they are going to call it. Unfortunately on mine they still called it.”

Do you see the penalties as a symptom of a mistake?

“The one with Brian (Dixon) he said if he looks back but he hit the guy. If he keeps his eyes back he picks the ball. The one with Sterling (Moore) on the reverse pass. That was just bad odds. He was already beat and that was a situation when you just don’t (want to) give up a touchdown. I understand he was already beat, but if you are beat that bad we need to just to get a goal line stand at that point.”

Coach Sean Payton said he hopes at some point pass interference is reviewable in instant replay. How much do you agree with it as a player?

“I do agree with it. Especially on my play. I think that changed the whole complex of that game. We get off the field on fourth down right there, I don’t know how many touchdowns we were up or the score, but I know it was a couple. That could have been up being, we could have had a four touchdown lead. Our offense was quick and it could have been real detrimental for the Panthers if we get off the field. That was a huge play of the game and anytime you have a fourth and three with a penalty and they score, I don’t know how many plays later they scored, but I think it could really change the outcome of the game. I think most because of the situation.”

What is your feel for the game after two straight wins, knowing that four of those games were really close?

“I think it’s good. I think everyone’s positive and everyone understands how hard it is to win in this league. Take nothing for granted. That was a good football team regardless of their record. NFC South champs and NFC Champions. You have to take credit where it is due. San Diego Chargers just beat Denver Broncos, the Super Bowl winner, we beat them. Everyone feels good.”

How much have the additions of B.W. Webb and Sterling Moore helped with those younger corners?

“They’ve definitely helped. There’s a learning curve on our defense. Anytime you come in after training camp, you do not get all those reps, all those OTAs reps, you do not get to play with me, (Jairus) Byrd, and Vonn (Bell). I think they’ve done an outstanding job of what they have been asked to do. The young corners just have to keep growing. I think the big thing with our football team is our defense. I think we have to get better with situational awareness. Understand what the offense is wanting to do at certain parts of the game. Certain down and distances and certain areas of the field. That will make us a lot better defense.”

Both of those defensive backs can play inside now. How much does that help you guys on defense?

“You want guys that can play multiple positions. Those players are held at the premium. Anytime you can play corner and nickel it is good for the team.”

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Justin Macione

Justin Macione

Communications Manager. New Orleans Saints

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