SAINTS HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Q: Is this the formula for you all to win this season, defense, special teams, efficient offense?
SP: Yeah, listen, I know this, just being in this league long enough, sometimes that formula has to change. We felt like going in that we wanted to effectively run the football. Obviously ball security, playing in here, is a must when you consider their record at home. But I think it's too hard to say each week. I mean, it's going to vary based on the opponents. I thought we did a handful of the things we were trying to do. We're going to look at the tape Monday, I'm sure it's not going to be perfect, then we'll make corrections.
Q: You talked about turnovers earlier in the week. How much did you hammer home that point to Jameis Winston in particular?
SP: Well, to everyone. When you're 108 and 7 at home when you win the turnover battle, that's significant. Obviously that's a testament to their program. We're mindful of it every week, but it had to be something that was put in our heads every day. I thought we took care of the football. I thought that was important.
Q: On the touchdown throw, did Jameis know there was a flag coming or is that a decision –
SP: I don't think he knew there was a flag coming. I think it was that complete or incomplete. We'll look at the tape. We were a bit fortunate there. Marquez [Callaway] made a play. Kind of a hold-your-breath moment.
Q: Before that last touchdown drive you put together, the offense hadn't really had much going in the second half. When you were going into that drive, what were you hoping you guys accomplished there?
SP: Look, naturally it was to possess the ball. I mean, momentum had shifted. They had just come off a score. It was a one-score game at that point. A field goal even really was going to give us some breathing room.
It was to change the field position as much as anything. I felt like we played with a positive field position for a large part of the first half, and even into the early part of the second half. But when you start a drive like that, you're thinking about making first downs. You're not in just a four-minute run-the-ball mode. You know you're going to have to throw it as well as run it. That was a significant drive.
Q: Was Taysom Hill on that drive, specifically considering what you wanted to accomplish, an in-game decision right there?
SP: Well, look, later in the game like that, you're going to get a loaded box. There's one way to lighten it a little bit, remove somebody, then directly run it with your quarterback. Part of that was to combat some of the heavier fronts.
Q: Your team is coming back home now. How would you say they handled this past three or four weeks? What did you learn about this team during this time?
SP: Look, I thought we've handled it well. Shoot, everyone at TCU, Texas Stadium, the hotel we were at, there were a lot of people that were fantastic and very supportive of us. It's obviously a challenge when you're not on schedule at home. But I thought we handled that part of it well. I thought we had a good week of preparation leading up to this game. It will be good to get home tonight finally, kind of get back to our facility.
Q: Have you liked the aspect of all of y'all on the road together?
SP: Yeah, look, it is what it is. I think starting off the season, relative to how training camps are, I think as challenging as it was for everyone, there is an element where you're focused on football, you're at the hotel, there aren't a lot of distractions. We got to keep getting better. We'll have a chance to do that again this week. We'll be back a little bit more to a familiar circumstance.
Q: The defense has been playing really well for a few years now. What have you really liked about the way they've set the tone in a couple of these games now despite having two rookie starters, newcomers?
SP: I thought we tackled in space well today, number one. I thought we affected the quarterback. When it became a little bit more one-dimensional, obviously it's a little bit more difficult to consistently generate the rush. Thought we kept the ball in front of us. Yeah, I'm sure when we watch the tape there will be some things that stand out. But I really thought we tackled well.
Q: Did you feel like you guys cleaned everything up on the protections that you wanted to this week?
SP: Yeah, look, that's a week-to-week thing. For the most part I thought up front we blocked them well. Terron [Armstead] went down early on. We jumped right in. James [Hurst] got in. But we were able to run the ball. I think that was important.
Q: Did you all see something on the blocked punt that y'all thought you might be able to get to one?
SP: I can't say that for sure. I think it was more of a by-product of probably really good effort and technique. That was significant. I thought all three areas, all three phases, did a good job. We had a handful of unique situations come up. I thought we handled them well.
Q: Have you changed your mindset at all (indiscernible)?
SP: We still are smart about the reps. I don't know how many total snaps, but we talk about it between each series every series.
Q: On the last drive, Deonte Harris made two really big catches. One of them moved the chains. How crucial was he in keeping that going, eating up the clock there?
SP: Yeah, look, in order to do that you have to convert a third down or two, a third-and-six or seven, third-and-five I think it was, I'm not sure. He had a big conversion though on their bench. That was significant I thought.
Later came back, we had another underneath pass to him. That was a big drive.
QUARTERBACK JAMEIS WINSTON
Postgame Press Conference
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Q: What was the mindset going into the last drive? You kind of struggled the three preceding drives.
JW: Finish. That was simple. Just finish and get the win.
Q: When you're playing across from a defense that's having the type of day y'all did today, does that affect how you approach some of these situations, not putting the defense in a disadvantage position is probably going to be enough?
JW: Yeah, we just knew that we just had to protect the football. We were going to come out winning this game.
I think we ran the ball really well. I think our defense played really well and we protected the football. That's the formula to win a game in the NFL.
Q: How often did you hear that message this week from you and just the whole team about that turnover ratio in New England?
JW: I mean, I think it was our key to victory. We knew we had to come in and do that, and we did that. That's why we won.
Q: Can you talk us through your decision to throw the TD pass to Marquez Callaway even though you were kind of wrapped up?
JW: That was all God. I felt zero. I checked it. That was all God. Like, I was trying to throw that ball away. Marquez went up there and snatched it, so... Touchdown, good guys.
Q: What was the message to you after that throw? Don't do it again but good throw?
JW: If you are throwing it away, make sure you throw it away. I said, Coach, that's all God. Can't get in the way of God's plan (smiling).
Q: Did you know it was a free play or were you just going for it?
JW: No, I did not know it was a free play.
Q: On the last drive, how clutch was Deonte Harris, especially on the third down play, to keep that drive going?
JW: He was excellent. He created some separation, got open. It was delivered to him.
Q: How excited are you to be getting a chance to come back to New Orleans? What have you learned about this team the past three weeks?
JW: Man, I'm more than excited to be able to prepare to play a team in our home stadium. I think we all excited for that. We're excited to get out of Dallas, excited to come home, man. We did it for this city. We knew we needed to get a win. We knew everybody was going to going to be coming ready to represent anyway. It would be a better taste in our mouths and in the city for us to come up and get a good win in Foxboro.
Q: You played in this league awhile now. Can you put into context what it means to come into this stadium with that head coach on the other side? Not a lot of teams come in here and win in this place.
JW: Yeah, you know, I'm playing for my head coach. Our head coach, he has a lot of accolades as well. Again, we definitely revere Coach Belichick, he's definitely a Hall of Fame coach. I'm happy we were able to come in as a team, defense dominated, offensive line did their thing, dominated the line of scrimmage, AK [Alvin Kamara] had a heck of a day, we made plays in the patting game when we needed to. Taysom [Hill] stepped up huge. (Indiscernible) on that last drive. We played Saints football. That's how we're playing right now. We protected the football and got a great win. We're excited, man, to come back home and let other teams feel the wrath of our fans.
Q: Communication was a big key this week, the protection. Seems like the offensive line, they were able to step up and continue to protect you. How did you feel your communication was better this week and the protection from the offensive line?
JW: I think we did a better job communicating. Yeah, an incredible job, Landon [Young] coming in filling in, James [Hurst] being resilient. We're going to see the details on Terron [Armstead]. We would love to have him back at speedily as possible. These guys have been resilient. Every week I say I got the best offensive line in the whole league. For two weeks we lose Erik McCoy, Cesar [Ruiz] and Calvin [Throckmorton] come in, they pick up the load. They did an excellent job today. Then we lose Terron today early. James Hurst picks up the load. It just talks a lot about that room, how important it is for those guys to have continuity and be together. I'm just happy those guys were able to persevere today.
Q: Obviously people know you have the big arm, the ability to go vertical. You said 'Saints football'. Is that now efficiency and physicality up front?
JW: Saints football has always been efficiency and physicality up front. Those are the only things I knew, so... That's all I know. They win up front and they play tough. That's what we did here. I think the best thing it's so challenging to win in this league. Any way you do it, you do it to the best of your abilities. Obviously I know I got to get better at the quarterback position, and I'm continuing to do that. But I'm happy we got this win.
ADDITIONAL PLAYER QUOTES
Malcolm Jenkins, S
(On his pick-six)
"They actually ran the same play I believe a couple of drives earlier, and Demario Davis made a good stop. They were trying to sneak the tight end on the back side and I ended up getting picked actually by my own teammate. So I just rushed up to my coverage and the ball got tipped up in the air and I was able to come down with it."
(On the defense's potential)
"I think we're finding out that we are the strength of our team. And we're going to have to play big in order for our team to have success. That's just the identity and the formula that seems to be working for us. We're real stingy on defense, we take the ball away, we give our offense opportunities. Then when we get our special teams contributing as well like they have. We're going to be hard to beat. We think the heart of our team is going to be is on our defense."
(On the difference of the defense from last year)
"I think last year on paper we had the potential to be good. This year we know we're good. So the thing for us is, how do we consistently put out the best versions of ourselves week-in and week-out? That's what we're trying to get to. We know how good we are, from an individual personal standpoint to a unit standpoint. Our challenge is how do we show up with the best versions of ourselves every single week? Because our team is going to need us to do that."
Alvin Kamara, RB
(On getting nine touches in the first 13 plays and if the Saints were setting a tone early by establishing the run)
"Yeah Sean [Payton] said it earlier in the week, he wanted to win the running battle. He didn't care, he wanted to protect the ball and win the rushing battle. I think we came out and went run heavy and it stuck throughout the game."
(On the increase in his touches to start the season and how he accepts that role)
"I'm cool with it. I have always said that whenever the ball comes to me, however it comes to me, I will take advantage of the touches. I think the thing is just making sure they are quality and good looks and I think that when the situation comes for it, they are the right calls. But I am fine, I am good. I am healthy and I am seeing everything well so I feel good about the touches."
(On Taysom Hill being used in a "closer role" in the running game today)
"I don't think it is a closer role I think it was just Sean going in and pulling some more tricks out of his hat. You know Taysom Hill is always ready. He ran the ball well and we closed it out, it was a good win."
Taysom Hill, QB
(On the team's performance)
"I can tell you, the mindset is just to win. I think sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the numbers, but you've got to play the game and play the situation. Throughout my career, it's the team that manages the situations the best that wins the game. It's all about winning and if the defense is creating turnovers like that, it's what you do."
(On what the team learned about itself being on the road the last three weeks)
"I think we proved that we can handle a lot of chaos. If you play in the NFL long enough, you are going to have trials, you're going to have different things that come up. What shows a good, resilient team is how you handle chaos and difficult situations. This goes from the top down, from management to the equipment guy, our trainers, everyone is all in. We have a really resilient team that knows what it takes to know how to prepare to play a football game no matter where."
(On the team's confidence in putting together long drives at the end of the game)
"Absolutely. That is a tough deal in the NFL when you've got these heavy defensive fronts and you can put together a drive like that. I don't remember what the time frame was – eight-or nine-minute drive, something like that, and you can go and score. That creates a lot of energy and momentum for us as a team, as an offense, so that's huge. It was great drive."