HEAD COACH MATT RHULE
RE: Opening Statement
Obviously disappointed with the result. Great football game back and forth. Had a chance to win it and as happens both for you and against you, you have to make one more play in the fourth quarter and we were not able to make that play at the very end. I thought the second half our defense held them to six points, I think it was six points, gave us a chance to win the game. Just couldn't quite make it happen. Credit to them. Obviously, they are a great football team. Drew Brees was great at quarterback as he is. I thought (Alvin) Kamara played a great game.
RE: What went into the decision to attempt a 65-yard field goal versus letting the offense try to convert on fourth down
It was fourth-and-17. We don't have a lot of those calls we feel good about. He's made it from there. We went into the game saying, hey, 47-yard line. 47-yard line, we felt he would have a chance. Our odds with fourth-and-17 we felt like were less than that. Obviously, it was not ideal. We had the ball down at the 35 and took that sack. Obviously, that sack was a fatal blow there. That's why.
RE: On the third down sack, if Teddy Bridgewater could have gotten rid of the ball
We can't take a sack there no matter who it is. Whether it's the offensive line, the receivers, whatever, we just can't take a sack. That's the only thing that couldn't have happen there was that. Regardless of what happens, Teddy can't take that sack, the offensive line can't allow that sack, it just can't happen.
RE: If Joey Slye hit anything longer than a 60-yard field goal in pregame
No, I don't watch it in pregame to that degree. (Special teams coordinator) Chase (Blackburn) had the number at 47. Again, we shouldn't even be back there. We can't take the sack. So when we get back there it's what's the best available odds. We punt it down there, we are going to get the ball back with 15 seconds. We go for it on fourth-and-17, I don't know about those odds. And we kick a field goal, even if it is 30-40%, typically third-and-10 plus is about 25% so even if its 30%. I thought he hit it and came up whatever four or five yards short.
RE: Thoughts while watching Joey Slye's 65-yard field goal attempt and if he thought he was going to make it as it was happening
I don't remember. I was just watching it. I was hoping for him, hoping that we had good protection. We had struggled with protection earlier. He hit it and I try to not overreact. I just watch it and see what happens. We missed it. I thought we might have a chance to get the ball back with 5-7 seconds left and who knows what could happen.
RE: What made the Saints difficult to stop on third down
They did a great job of converting some third and longs. (Alvin) Kamara made it tough. They won verse man to man. I think in the first half they were 6-of-6 on third down and 3-of-3 in the red zone. So, areas that we pride ourselves on. I think when you play Drew Brees you have to know he is going to be efficient. He was efficient. We didn't make the plays or call the plays. Just a team effort on our end to get them off the field.
RE: Eli Apple playing a lot of snaps and if he saw anything from Troy Pride Jr. and how the cornerbacks played without Rasul Douglas
I thought they played fine. I have to watch the tape to see more. We tried to play Eli (Apple) and at one point he went down and then came back up. Nothing beyond just rotating them and feeling like he was going to play well and getting him into the game.
RE: Mike Davis and the difficulty getting the running game going
I don't think we had a lot of plays. I don't know how many total plays we had in the game. It just felt like one of those games based upon the way they were playing, based upon the way our guys were playing it was going to be plays through the air. Felt like it was one of those games it was going to be, hey, throw it and then mix in the runs. Thought Mike (Davis) played well. We hit him on a couple passes. He made guys miss. Just felt like one of those, hey, let's throw the ball. Obviously, we had the big play to DJ [Moore] which was a quick drive. Nothing particular about the run game other than we are kind of one of those hey, get the lead and then run the football type teams. More pass first. Obviously, couldn't quite get the lead, we were always kind of chasing from behind.
QB TEDDY BRIDGEWATER
It's a tough one to let get away from you. That was a good football team we played against and we were a few plays away, but in this league being a few plays away can get you beat. We've got a short week, so we've got to hurry up and put this game to bed. We'll get an opportunity to play the Saints again at the end of the season, but it's a short week like I said; we've got to get ready for Atlanta.
RE: What he saw on the sack at the end of the game
We had the perfect play call - probably would've scored a touchdown if we had got it off - but they schemed up that protection that we had called well and I really had nowhere to throw the ball. As I tried to step up, I was going to throw it away but there were no outlets for me to just dirt it. Hats off to those guys, they schemed up the protection that we had called and they prevented us from making a play and forced us out of field goal range.
RE: Adjustments the offense had to make throughout the game
When you look at the game, we didn't really have many possessions, so we just tried to maximize every drive that we got. We wanted to make sure that we were finishing in the end zone so it was one of those games where the game might go a little different from what the game plan was. We left a couple plays out there today - a couple big plays - and if you leave too many plays against a team like that, you get beat.
RE: The difficulty of finding a rhythm with less snaps and the defense having difficulty getting third down stops
It goes hand-in-hand. For us, when we put together long drives - 14-play scoring drives and things like that - it gives our defense a break. So, if we can just continue to do our part to help our defense stay fresh and locked and loaded, I think we'll continue to complement each other - the offense will complement the defense, the defense will complement the offense and special teams.
RE: How the offense changes with Curtis Samuel on the field
Curtis is just a guy that shows up for us. I've been saying he does everything that we ask him to do. When his number is called, he's out there making plays for us. You saw him score a touchdown from the backfield, you see him make big catches on third down, so to have him out there on the field, he's a huge asset to this team.
RE: What was said on the Saints sideline between him and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton
He was just saying it was a flag on both teams, the play is dead, basically.
RE: Whether it was more emotional playing against his old team
No, not at all. To me, it was another game on our schedule. Of course, those guys hold a special place in my life and my heart, but when I'm going against them, it's a different approach. I just want to go out there and play the game I know how to play and try to get our team in the end zone as many times as we could.
RE: Thoughts on the 65-yard field goal attempt by Joey Slye
It just shows that Coach (Matt Rhule) has supreme confidence in his players. I think as an offense we can't put ourselves in that situation. If we could dirt the ball or something on that third down - you see a guy kick a 65-yard field goal and just miss it, so if we just dirt the ball right there on third down and give him a chance from 20 yards closer, there's a chance for us to tie the game up. But, like I said, it just shows that Coach has supreme confidence in his players.
RE: Whether he wanted the offense to go for it on fourth-and-17
It's a tough situation. If we had made it a more manageable down and distance, I think we probably would've went for it or something. I don't know, but like I said, to see Coach tell Joey (Slye) to go out there and kick a 65-yard field goal, that's supreme confidence in his players. It's no knock against the offense or anything but we have guys on this team who we truly believe in and that was put on display when Coach called the field goal team out there.
RE: How it falls on him to lead the team following this loss in a short week
It's all about understanding that you've got more opportunities. You've got to be able to turn the page fast in this league. We've got an Atlanta team coming into town that I'm pretty sure after we played them, they felt the same way that they may have been one or two plays away from tying the game or beating us, so we have to make sure that we have the right mindset going into this game that nothing's going to be handed to us. Like I said, we get an opportunity to play the Saints again at the end of this year and Atlanta's getting another opportunity to play us, so we're going to make sure that we attack this week with the right mindset and be smart. I'm going to continue to stress to the younger guys on this team that Thursday's going to be here. You get, basically, a day and a half of preparation, so it's a quick turnaround but no one's going to feel sorry for you once you get out there.
WR DJ Moore
RE: How important his early touchdown was
It was just to get us going. It was a play that was unexpected, but expected, when we went out there. So when we hit the big touchdown, it got us going a little bit.
RE: His view of the final third-down play and Joey Slye's field goal attempt the following play
The third-down play, it happens. I think he stepped up, he got sacked on that third down, if I'm correct.
The play call, it was there. It was unfortunate that we couldn't get it. Then on Joey, I know the next time we have that situation, he's going to make the field goal. He's going to work at it this upcoming week. So I'm really not going to be too hard on it.
RE: Difficulty getting into a rhythm when the other team is having long drives
Not really because we've still got to play our game at the end of the day when we get on the field. Time of possession is just something that we look at, but we know we have to go out there and execute and get a touchdown, match a score with a score.
RE: If he thinks the offense could have converted the final 4*th* & 19 play
That goes through our play callers. At the end of the day, we all think we can make the play but at the end of the day the coaches have to call at end of the day. So we just go out there to execute. We went out there for the field goal and that's what the conversation was.
RE: What options were open on the 3*rd* down play when QB Teddy Bridgewater got sacked
I'm not sure. I know he was probably looking down the field. So I'm really just working on my side to get open for the play, so I really couldn't tell you.
RE: What it meant having WR Curtis Samuel back today
What did it mean? We just added another speedster on the field, another playmaker, that the team had to account for.
LB Shaq Thompson
RE: The Saints' third-down success
They just executed better than we did. It was no reason, we just have to do better. They can't go 100 percent, we have to get off the field and get our offense the ball back.
RE: The difficulty preparing for this game with injuries among some defensive starters
It wasn't hard at all. We always talk about next guy up or what's next. I feel like Sam [Franklin] came out here and played well for us. We just have to be able to help our offense out. The offense played great today. Defense, we played good at times, but their third down killed us. If you don't win on third down, it's going to be a long game and that's what happened.
RE: Struggles on third downs
We just have to execute, execute the calls. We have to win first and second down early in the ball game. Most of the third downs came to third-and-short, third-and-two. Then on the ones on the third-and-long, we have to convert those. Give credit to them, they came out there and won every third down, we just have to do better. We have to get ready for Thursday, let this soak in for a little bit and then we have to get ready for the Atlanta Falcons.
RE: Difficulty stopping Saints RB Alvin Kamara
We just have to tackle. It's not him, it's just us. We have to tackle, run our feet, wrap up and get him down. He has great contact balance. He is one of those backs that slows down right before contact, and it's just hard to get him down. But we will see him again at the end of the year. It's on us and we just have to wrap up.
RE: Halftime adjustments
We just started diving in and playing our defense. That is what we need to do in the first half. We have to play our brand and not play any other way. That is what we started doing in the second half, but we have to make it a whole game thing, not just a half thing. It just falls back really on myself. I am taking a lot of credit in some of those zones that I messed up and they hit big plays right there. I already told my team, that's on me.
RE: If missing SS Juston Burris was a big reason for today's result
No, we just have to go out there and execute regardless of who is back there. Everybody knows the defense, everybody knows their job, we just have to execute.