The New Orleans Saints have had their ups-and-downs during the preseason and there have been more downs than ups.
On Thursday night at 7:00 Saints head coach Sean Payton expects to see his team play much better in the final preseason game of the 2016 season before opening the new NFL campaign at home on September 11 against the Oakland Raiders.
The Baltimore Ravens enter the preseason game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with a perfect 3-0 record. New Orleans is 0 and 3, following a 27-14 decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers Friday night in New Orleans.
Here is what Coach Payton had to say at Monday's news conference:
When you went back and looked at the film of the game on Friday night did anything stand out to you?
“A few of the things that were easy to see, just during the game. We didn’t play well enough at all on the offensive line. I thought defensively there were some things that show up that are encouraging and yet, we give up three explosive passing plays. For the amount of times they threw the ball, our ability to affect the quarterback was poor. Those were the two (that stood out). The game ended and you didn’t have to see the film to know that they had more time in the pocket throwing the football and our protection wasn’t real good at all.”
What was your reaction to the incident that happened with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick?
“I have not even seen it. I heard about it, news (coverage) all over the country. Honestly, we have a lot more important things that we’re working on right here in our building.”
Do the Saints have a team policy on the national anthem or are you aligned with what the NFL has?
“I’m not sure what the NFL has, we have some protocol that we have and that’s just something that I implemented the first year I was here.”
Is it safe to say you encourage the players to stand?
“No, it’s our policy that I have and it works pretty good for us.”
When it comes to social issues, how much do you encourage your players to speak out?
“I really encourage our players to focus on what we are doing in this building, as it pertains to things of football and I think that and I completely understand when they (players) have strong opinions in many different areas outside the world of football, but my focal point with the players really is about how does this team get better, how do they get better as a football player.”
Can you talk about the concerns on the offense and defensive lines? Is there an in-house solution or could there be a street solution at this point in time?
“A, I think both and I say that because this next week, this next 10-day period there’ll be some good football players that shift from one team to another via a lot of different ways. Be it from trade, be it waiver claims and free agency and I think it’s an important week to focus on for your own club. How do we improve the roster? Then there are some internal solutions. This player needs to play better, this player maybe plays over that player. I think in fairness to the question, the solutions lie two-fold.”
Were you specifically answering that question to the guard position?
“No, I wasn’t, that was in general. I think the guard position needs to play better. I wasn’t answering that question specifically to the guard position.”
Are you a fan of the two cutdown dates?
“I’m fine with the cutdown dates. I don’t have any issues with them.”
Have you made any cuts yet?
“We haven’t made any cuts yet.”
Do you have an update on Hooman (Michael Hoomanawanui)?
“No update for you.”
With less than two weeks before the season begins. How do you get better at that guard spot?
“I think we have a group of guys that have played quite a bit. (Andrus) Peat has played a lot of snaps a year ago. I expect him to be better now (that) it might be more over on the left side. We have moved him around enough. We have to settle in on where we think this player is going to play. Whether it’s the right or the left side. I think (Zach) Strief by in large played pretty well last weekend. I think that (Tim) Lelito and Senio (Kelemente) are competing for that spot and I think that we have to pay attention to what we can do well and try to highlight that some. It’s still a work in progress and obviously it was not good enough this past weekend.”
You mentioned the other night that the intentions for Peat was to always play on that right side, whether it be guard or tackle?
“His vision, intuitionally when we drafted the player, you definitely saw he was a top right tackle. Now, can he play guard? Well he played 178 snaps (of) left guard and we think there’s a size element and athleticism that we saw in that tape. Your question was a good one the other night in regards to right or left with the stance and he has not played very well over on that right side. We have to keep looking and pay close attention to it. I was hoping we would be able to put him in one spot, but I know what he can do well and we have to find a way for him to get a high enough level inside and I think we can get that done.”
What was it about when you were looking at him and evaluating him initially to be picked by your team? Did you think that this guy would be good on the right side and be able to take to those snaps?
“He was a junior coming out so as far as his youth and his athleticism, he is sharp. There are a lot of traits and I expect him to be a really good player for us for a long time. But we have to as coaches, we have to be better in regards to giving him that chance to develop and we will be. His father played years in the league, I’m close to David Shaw. So there’s a player that we’re real familiar with and you see play left tackle. And you see that ability and obviously we’ve seen him step in and play left tackle with Terron (Armstead) being down.”
How has Andrus handled the constant change?
“He is fantastic to coach and all of these guys are playing multiple positions. In other words, Senio (Kelemete) and (Tim) Lelito got to train at center. But as a young player it has been a little bit more challenging for Peat. I think we as coaches can be better getting him settled in.”
How did it work this time of year, kind of peaking behind the curtain, you know players are going to get cut and you are going to have some options out there? Are you coaches presented with some options every night that you discuss players that you have seen on other teams?
“The coaches are not involved in that. The personnel side will study the rosters of these other teams. We’ll have the depth charts posted. We’ll look closely at what we think are going to be fringe borderline cut players. This first wave of cuts may or may not present that type of player. Generally, the second round of cuts do that. It is all in the evaluation. Who is paying attention to those four preseason games and who is righting the reports”
Do you weigh in on that?
“Absolutely. Absolutely. So that will be something we did a year ago for instance with (Michael) Mauti. We had a meeting in there and also (Obum) Gwacham. Those were claims on the final day if I’m not mistaken.”
You can watch the Ravens-Saints preseason game 7:00 p.m. Thursday on WLOX-ABC.
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