Saints' Coach Payton Talks About Philly

The Eagles made it past the New York Giants with a game winning 38 yard field goal by David Akers. The win sends the Eagles to New Orleans to face a Saints team that beat them with a last second field goal earlier in the season. The following is a full transcript from head coach Sean Payton as he talks about the upcoming game.

Q: Will you compare and contrast the styles of the Eagles now that Jeff Garcia is playing quarterback for them as opposed to when Donovan McNabb was their quarterback when you last played them?

A: They are two different players, but certainly their team is responding to the way Jeff's played. He's come in and done an outstanding job. They've gotten on a roll. It will be a difficult challenge. Credit Andy (Reid) and his staff. They've done a good job of making adjustments. He's (Garcia) a veteran player who has been in this postseason before, been to some Pro Bowls and he's playing very efficiently right now. No two players are exactly alike, yet he comes in and they function very well. They're very explosive and multidimensional. It's a big challenge.

Q: Can you discuss how you handled preparing for opponents this weekend without any finality until the end of the Philadelphia-Giants game?

A: You watch it and you wait. It's all that you can do. You wait to see the results and then you prepare accordingly. We had done a lot of work on Philadelphia already, as well as on Seattle and Dallas. We worked more yesterday on Seattle. You're into your game week routine at this point.

Q: When you came here, did you feel a need to add players to the roster that had prior playoff experience?

A: No. Some of the players that came in had some. It was probably a case of coincidence.

Q: Is it a disadvantage for your team that they have less playoff experience than the Philadelphia roster?

A: There's something to be said for having experience in these types of games. Yet the more we can approach it the way we have approached the games we have played to date in understanding that it comes down to mistakes is important. We need to be smart about field position and turnovers. I think those are the main things. We'll see what happens on Saturday. It's two teams that played a really good game the last time around. A lot has changed since then and it will be a big challenge for us. We look forward to it.

Q: Do you have an injury update?

A: We have nothing to report today. We won't talk about injuries until tomorrow.

Q: Can you discuss how your team has changed as well as Philadelphia's since the first meeting with the Eagles?

A: This is nine weeks later. You're looking at players on offense that possibly were not playing before. It is the same way with the Eagles team. They have a different quarterback. For us, we play some younger guys now that probably weren't playing as much in the week that we had played Philadelphia. We have had change at tight end. A lot takes place in the course of the year. I think the teams are different. You're looking at two teams that won their division. They won the NFC East. We won the South. Those are always goals that the players and the coaching staffs start with. It's a credit to both teams. I think it will be exciting and will be a great environment.

Q: Do you have any type of fear and trepidation in that a lot of your roster will be making their playoff debut?

A: I don't know. We've already played in some important games this year. It's an important game. I think we'll respond the right way. You approach it, go through your routine, and get ready to play a football game. Mentally and physically, you want to be sharp when it starts.

Q: Can you talk about the importance of having a good holder and snapper based on the NFC playoff games this past weekend as well as the final result of your first meeting with Philadelphia this season?

A: I think that it just gets down to doing the little things well. You try to always emphasize the details and mechanics of everything, not just the center-quarterback exchange. I saw the quarterback get his foot stepped on over the weekend. You just hope you can eliminate those types of mistakes. As a coach, you try to cover all the areas. You can never take anything for granted. It's tough. I think it's a tough way to lose a game. In Dallas' case, they had put themselves in great position to get the clock down and finish. It didn't work out that way. You work on the details and the little things. You try to cover as much as you can. It's something that I'm sure is disappointing. It's tough to lose a game like that.

Q: What level does the pressure on your team go to now?

A: It's what you try to make of it or don't make of it. It's a postseason game. You're in a single elimination tournament now. If you don't win, you don't play anymore. It is what it is right now. We get back to all the things that we tried to do to date to prepare each week and go from there.

Q: How does your familiarity with Philadelphia based on your coaching stints in the NFC East help you in preparing for them?

A: I think you become a little bit familiar with personnel. You see some players. One of the reasons we were excited about signing Hollis (Thomas) was based on an experience standpoint of having seen him play a number of times. I think in this case, both teams having played each other in the regular season have some type of background with the opponent in terms of personnel and scheme. You just look for the execution on game day. You look for all the things that we talk about during the course of the season, such as how you do on third down and on the red zone. Ultimately, those will be the things that determine the outcome. Having played this team once in the same way with Philadelphia having played us, I don't think it's uncommon in the postseason. It probably helps the learning curve for both teams a little bit. There are always some things that you have to prepare to adjust for that you haven't seen and they do a very good job on all phases of preparation and coaching. It's one of the reasons that they've been successful in Andy's (Reid) time there over the whole stretch of his appointment. It's a credit to their staff and their team.

Q: Looking at the big picture of what this team means to the city after Hurricane Katrina especially, can you add the satisfaction of hosting a home playoff game under the circumstances as well as explain if this adds to the pressure that you feel?

A: I just think that the approach has to be what it has been since we led up to this position. The approach is to put together a good week of practice and preparation and work hard at it. Players understand the significance of a home playoff game to this town and what it means. We need to go out and play our best. It's the same approach we've tried to take all season. I said back when we started playing at the beginning of the year that following our first two wins and the win in the Atlanta game, which was the biggest game of the year. Now we're on about our eighth biggest game of the year. That comes with winning. You prepare to do the little things necessary. You hope to go out on gameday and execute properly. Our plan is to put together a good workweek of practice and focus on all of the little things, like we have done in all of the games we've played so far.

Q: Can you pinpoint why you have a better home record than road record this season?

A: Sometimes there can be a distraction in playing at home, but nothing specific. We look forward to playing in the dome in front of our home crowd, especially an evening game. I think the fans will be outstanding. I think it's important that we are playing at home.

Q: When you conduct statistical analysis, do you look at some of the long, sustained, scoring drives you have had as major factor in your record?

A: It would probably fall a little bit more under time of possession. When you're able to possess the ball a little bit longer than the opponent, it's obviously to your advantage to do that. Sometimes a longer drive ends up being eight or nine plays. Sometimes you may score on there plays. Possession of the ball is important as well as ball security. We don't sit down and say we need three 10-play drives this week. We just talk about the execution and you end up with nine or ten plays. You put up a sequence of plays where you probably converted some third downs and executed well on first and second down.

Q: Is it better to have longer scoring drives?

A: If we can score on the first play of a drive, I'll take it.

Q: Can you discuss the threat that Brian Westbrook poses?

A: He's certainly one of the players their offense starts with. They've done a great job of putting him in different positions. He's very explosive both out of the backfield and as a receiver. Obviously there will be a focus on Westbrook.

Q: Can you discuss the significance of the passion and devotion of your fan base?

A: I think it's significant to have a strong fan base like that with that level of passion. I think it's a big plus when you get to play at home in front of them. We're excited for the opportunity. I know the town's excited about hosting a playoff game. Obviously it's something that we feel good about. I'm sure the players on this team as well as the coaches and everybody else in the organization are excited for the city and understand the importance of the team to the city.

Q: Will you be able to tell if you're rusty in the first five minutes of the game?

A: I don't anticipate being rusty. I don't know if it takes five minutes to recognize if you're ready to play or not. I think we'll be ready to play.

Q: Are you satisfied with how your entire bye week process and upcoming practice schedule has gone?

A: It has gone smoothly. We've tried to get a lot done. We've tried to get them off their feet some. We had a good practice on Friday. We've concentrated on a lot of lifting and running. Today we'll have meetings and a walk-through. Tomorrow our schedule for our team will be like a normal Wednesday.

Q: Is it difficult for a backup quarterback to provide his team with a sustained spark like Jeff Garcia has for the Eagles?

A: You need to credit Philadelphia to be able to make and adjustment midstream, especially with a player like a Donovan McNabb. He's a player that people in our league considers one of it's most valuable players every year. They've done a good job of making the adjustments. Jeff's done a great job of executing the game plans that they've put together. He's gotten the ball to his playmakers, he's made good decisions and he hasn't turned it over. As a result, they've won a bunch of games now. Andy (Reid) and his staff have made a great transition after losing a starter like that, especially one of the significance of Donovan McNabb. That's a credit to them. Occasionally you see where that's happened before for different reasons.

Q: How important is it for Philadelphia to have the momentum that they currently have?

A: You want to be playing good football as you enter the postseason. This is a team that is playing very well. That type of momentum brings confidence. Confidence with the players is certainly something that you can see they're feeding off of. I think it's a tremendous challenge for us approaching this week.


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