The Washington Redskins (3-5) on Sunday host the New Orleans Saints (4-5) in 2015 Week 10 action at FedExField.*
On Wednesday, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees spoke to the Washington, D.C., media about their upcoming matchup against the Redskins.
Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
On Kai Forbath:
"You know, he's been real consistent. He worked out for us two-and-a-half weeks prior to us signing him. You know, he's steady. The challenge always when the kickers come in on a workout, there's probably three or four of them. I think from Monday to Monday, they fly to different cities, the ones that, you know, don't have opportunities. Unique with him though were just his numbers not only in the NFL but in college. Everyone has access to their percentages, the distance, get-off times and obviously clutch kicks. Obviously, he hit a big one for us a couple weeks back. Last week, the get off and the kick was fine. It was pressure from the right side. He felt like he hit clean and looks like he did. I think, overall, we've been real impressed — his makeup. The challenge sometimes, normally with Thomas Morstead kicking off, it takes some pressure off of him. If he's kicking off, he might not have the ideal distance and yet, in our division, we're eight games home, Atlanta, nine, you know those are all inside games and then Carolina and Tampa Bay, it's a little different than the division that you guys are in."
On how they are preparing for an outdoor game on Sunday:
"Well, we were outside with a lot of wind today. You know, I think it's going to be important, we talked at length this morning just about the conditions. We play pretty well outside. It's something you can't control. It's just important to understand how it can impact the kicking game. You might spend a half where the kickoffs are touchbacks and then in the second half of the game, you know, you might be catching the ball on the five-yard line. It all depends."
On where the defense needs to improve before Sunday:
"Well, I think the devil always is in the detail. I think our early-down efficiency has got to get better. A few weeks back against Indianapolis, it was much better. Then, that very next week, we get in a game with New York where, you know, it went back and forth, almost like a tennis match. Hopefully, we can find that consistency. Generally, you start in the front with the ability to handle the running game and apply pressure on the quarterback. I think those are some key things that can really help, help the backend. Generally when you're struggling defending the pass, it's probably a combination of both."
On Tim Hightower:
The Washington Redskins on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2015, announced the signing of center Brian de la Puente.
"Yeah, you know, we had a few players here during the offseason that we brought in coming off of injury – Kenny Phillips from the Giants and Tim. We had a chance to see them throughout the spring and then training camp. The first thing I would say with both of those players — because I brought their names up — is they've recovered from the injury. Obviously, in Tim's case, that takes time. We saw enough of him where I knew that you try to create a short list and if in the event you need a player, you know kind of where you're going and he was at the top of our short list. He spent training camp with us. He knows our system now and I think most importantly, he's healed. That being said, getting back into the game, he was able to play in the preseason. He's smart. He's tough. I think he's got some natural running instincts. We played against him all the way back to when he was in Arizona and are pretty familiar with the player and the key was just his confidence, his confidence playing and getting in games and knowing that he's strong enough and fully healed."
On the Redskins signing C Brian de la Puente and how a new player can get up to speed quickly:
"I would start with this – I think those players that are really smart, and Brian is one of those guys, the memories and times we had here for three years were fantastic. He's a tremendous teammate. He's well-respected and well-liked in the locker room. He's extremely bright. I know that he's guy that'll come in quickly and dive into the playbook and spend time with Bill Callahan and get all the nuances down of the offense. He's very versatile and proven to be that way with us. We had a similar example in signing Tony Hills a few weeks back. We needed an emergency backup tackle and then in the first series against Atlanta we lost our next tackle and all of a sudden a week into it, here he is playing 70-some snaps and starting against the Falcons. It's the unique thing about our league with rosters at 53. I would say it's more common than uncommon that those Mondays after games around the league can be hectic for teams dealing with an injury, trying out players and then signing players that can handle that role. I think the first trait you're looking for is the intelligence and the football IQ."
On what went through his mind when he saw the drops by the Redskins last week:
"Just like we do, there's a ton of preparation, ball drills, all sorts of things that you do in getting ready to play a game. Sometimes, it's happened to us this year, where all of a sudden, the quarterback gets an interception, but you know, it caromed off of a shoulder pad and should have been a catch. I think you're onto the next play. You know, it can disrupt drives, but it's really no different than an early pressure given up or a lack of execution in another area. It's a little bit more glaring when it's at the receiver position or tight end position, we've certainly seen that at times. You just got to continue to work on the timing and the nuances of the passing game. That all being said, against a team like New England, in order to play well and in order to win, we saw and practiced them in the preseason. They present some tough challenges, and especially on the road, you've really got to be spot on. We've found that to be the case with some of our road teams or road games this year. When you're playing on the road, just that margin for error is reduced."
On having a quarterback that's an extension of the head coach:
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and New Orleans Saints.
"Well, from an offensive standpoint, having the same system in place, there's recall – if you will – each week to games or situations or defensive looks. It's no secret in our league that the quarterback's play is vital. As the rules have evolved and the game obviously has opened up and teams are throwing it more, the ability for that player to key and diagnose what he's getting, what type of protection he's needing to be in and executing becomes paramount. So, each week you see a lot of games lost at that position. I think that having a player like Drew [Brees] you don't take for granted. I certainly don't. Having been here now going on year 10, my ninth season of coaching here, we went through the first game this year back when we played Carolina, it was the first time he wasn't available and Luke McCown had to step up. There's that consistency. There's so many little things that go into it. That all being said, knowing Jay [Gruden] as they have gotten acclimated to what they're wanting to do offensively, it's, 'Prepare, be through that week, have a good plan and get ready to go.'"
On the growth in Kirk Cousins:"Well, the ball comes out. He doesn't take a lot of sacks and another thing you see on film is that they are going to take their shots down the field. They've got speed outside, guys that will go make plays for them. They've been in some close games. They've been in some exciting games. They've come back in the two-minute. One of the things you look for in that quarterback is how they handle the two-minute drill when they are behind. So, just looking at the games and having seen them all, he's obviously a competitive player who has got the arm talent and certainly the understanding of what they're trying to do."
On why the team released Junior Galette:"Well, there were a ton of things that went into the offseason and decisions that went into the offseason. Every move we make, we try to look at our team and see how to we can improve it and sometimes we look at players and the fit and what we're looking to provide. He had a great run here. He gave us a ton in regards to pressure. He's a hard worker. He's a guy that really came in and he didn't start on third base. He started on first as a free agent and earned everything he made and really made an impression on us. I thought he had a real good run here. That being said, it was a decision that we made that we felt was in our best interest."
On if the decision was related to Galette's legal matters:"Like I said, it was the decision we made as a club that we felt was in our best interest."
On if he regrets releasing Galette:
"No. Listen, there are a lot of transactions that take place during the offseason, but the defense we're in now — you're referencing the outside linebackers — our sack production and hurries and pressure production has gone up."
Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
On preparing for the Redskins' secondary:
"You just kind of play what you see. You expect the unexpected a little bit as far as who's going to be back there — the different personnel groups and who's healthy and that kind of stuff. So, I think what we do mostly, anyways, we just, we worry about our execution and so however a team decides to play us or whoever's on the field, we can just adjust on the fly."
On the Redskins signing Brian de la Puente:
"My experience with De La when he was here? He was great. I love Brian. He is a really smart football player, really did a great job for us, was part of some really great offenses with us. Really, extremely dependable, a guy I had a great rapport with and he obviously went to Chicago after us and I thought really did a good job filling in at center and also playing guard. He's a really good football player and did a great job for us while he was here."
On adjusting to a new center:
"I mean, usually I'd say, 'Hey, there are challenges that come along with it,' but De La is an extremely smart, intelligent guy who I think is very easy to get on the same page with very quickly. He'll pick up the system quickly as well. He's just a great locker room guy, a great teammate. Nothing but great things to say about him."
On evaluating their season so far:
"We started off 1-4 so obviously we struggled early trying to find our identity a little bit and what was going to be our bread and butter, I think on both sides of the ball. We hit a little stretch there and were playing some good football. Last week we faltered a little bit. I thought there were some things we did well in the game but for the most part we kind of let that game get away from us. I think we are at that point in the season where we need to be playing our best football. I think there's still some things we need to improve upon but I think we've shown glimpses of being the type of team that we all expect ourselves to be. That part excites me. I just think we need to become more consistent and continue to understand what wins football games in this league and just be a smarter football team."
On if the game against the Giants two weeks ago was one of the wildest games of his career:
The Washington Redskins today announced the signing of linebacker Junior Galette. Take a look back at the pass rusher's five-year NFL career.
"Yeah, it really was. While it was happening, it didn't really register just because you're so focused on each drive, one at a time. The mindset doesn't change for me or for us as an offense regardless of what the score is. If we're leading by 21 points in the second quarter, our mindset is still the same every time we step on the field, and that is to possess the ball, to be efficient and to go down and score points. It's not until the fourth quarter that you kind of play the situation, right? But that game was just, man, it was like whoever had the ball last was going to win. When I look back on it and as I'm sitting there watching it on film, just like 'Boy, there was just a lot of offense, a lot of points scored in that game.'"
On if he thought, 'This is ridiculous,' during that game:
"You try not to let your mind go there because you just want to be ready to win the game if you have the chance. The momentum just going back and forth, that was the crazy part. We took a 42-28 lead at one point and then they scored 21 unanswered. So, now they're beating us 49-42 and we have to go down and score with 30 seconds left to tie it and then that crazy sequence at the end as far as we return it, fumble it, facemask, get in field goal range and kick the field goal, 50-yarder to win with no time left. It was kind of wild."
On if Sunday could be a turning point of the season:"Well, I mean, listen, it has to be. There's a great sense of urgency at this point of the season because there's no margin for error. Listen, if we want to achieve our goals we have set for ourselves this season, you know this is one of those games at this point of the season with our record, going into the bye week, all that stuff, man, we've got to find a way to win. I think especially that fact that our bye week is coming kind of late, this is a game when maybe you want to feel good about yourself going into the bye week and then you have an extra week to kind of rest up, get recharged, get healthy in a lot of areas and then make a run at the end of the season."