Sean Payton critical, but shoots down talk of coaching, personnel changes

METAIRIE, La. -- Sean Payton made it clear throughout his Monday press conference that Sunday’s loss was unacceptable and that the blame is widespread.

He began by saying the New Orleans Saints preach the importance of details, but in each phase of the game they were hurt by the little things during a 34-28 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans.

And Payton heaped just as much blame on the coaches as the players for the repeated mistakes. At one point he used an analogy of the parent whose child keeps acting up in the grocery store. Another time, Payton compared it to a teacher whose student keeps getting Ds on a test.

“At some point, you’re like, ‘Well, did you do a good enough job teaching the subject matter?’” Payton said.

However, Payton quickly shot down a question asking if he might consider replacing any of those coaches, saying, “That’s not for today’s (press conference) ...”

Payton similarly shot down a question when asked if he might consider personnel changes for repeat offenders -- specifically when it came to recurring penalties in the secondary.

“We’re not talking about personnel changes. We’re talking about just the fundamentals,” Payton said.

There was an equal mix of stern warnings and calming assurances throughout Payton’s press conference -- which, essentially, is Payton’s job right now. He wants to keep encouraging the team that had enough resilience to go from 1-4 to 4-4 while addressing the problems that crept back up on Sunday.

“You know, the sky’s not falling today,” Payton said. “And I know in your (media) industry, you need it to. But it’s (one) game and it’s disappointing.

“(Tennessee) hasn’t been a team scoring a lot of points, and that hasn’t been a team that was moving the ball as effectively as they did against us. So that’s something that obviously as a head coach you take note of that and say, ‘Hey, we’ve gotta be better than that. We’ve gotta be better than that.’”

Among the specific areas Payton harped on Monday:

  • The lack of a pass rush on rookie QB Marcus Mariota. “We lost contain in our rush a couple times, and all of a sudden the play gets extended and he finds a player down the field. That’s happened repeatedly. That’s a concern,” Payton said. “The ball was coming out pretty quick. They did a good job with some of their play-actions. And yet I would say that it was just an average effort (by the pass rush). We didn’t have near the production we’ve had in the last several weeks.”

  • The defense’s inability to contain Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker, even though, “‘Hey, we knew this tight end was their No. 1 target.’”

  • The continued penalties in the secondary.

  • The inability to run the ball and the inconsistent pass protection as quarterback Drew Brees was sacked four times. “Offensively, twice in that game, we turned the defensive end loose in protection. Two times you just don’t block a defensive end, two different times,” Payton said. “That can’t happen.”

  • The missed 46-yard field goal with about one minute remaining. The ball was indeed tipped, according to both Saints kicker Kai Forbath and Titans coach Mike Mularkey, among others (Mularkey credited Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo). Payton said he was actually surprised when he watched the tape by how quickly the Saints got the kick off since it began with a low snap by Justin Drescher. It sounds like holder Thomas Morstead and Forbath did their jobs. “The timing of it was better than I expected to see, and it was clean, but it was a low snap and the protection was poor in two areas,” Payton said.

  • The fumbled punt return by rookie returner Marcus Murphy. “It’s back to what I said at the beginning -- if it keeps happening, we’re either allowing it to happen or not changing it. So that’s gotta get corrected.”

At one point, though, Payton switched back to making sure the corrections get made without the damage lingering.

"Those are things that are frustrating, and yet we can’t lose this thing twice or three times," Payton said. "We lost it. We didn’t play well enough, we didn’t coach well enough. We’ve gotta get the corrections made and then get ready to play Washington.”