NEW ORLEANS ― Sean Payton stood on the stage, intently listening to the question thrown his way.
Then he looked down, seemingly resigned to answering a question of which the response could get him in trouble.
He simply was asked about his thoughts on the illegal snap penalties being called because of where the umpire now stands and when he whistles the play live.
“I hate that tempo can be controlled or dictated or taken away from Drew Brees,” Payton said. “It happened (Thursday) night in the Colts game. I don’t know mechanically if we were ready for all of this.”
Teams knew of the change in umpire placement prior to the season. The move was made, in theory, to put the umpire in a safer place on the field so he wasn’t getting run over.
The umpire now stands behind the offense and near the referee as opposed to behind the linebackers. However, the umpire will move to the former position in the final two minutes of each half, an acknowledgement that the prior position was superior in terms of seeing the game.
But the unintended consequence of the move has been to keep offenses out of a quick rhythm. Twice against San Diego in New Orleans’ 36-21 win Friday night the Saints were called for an illegal snap.
“The quarterback is looking at the play clock to make sure he gets the snap off,” Payton said. “Certainly, he’s looking at the safeties, looking at the center if he’s in the shotgun and he’s making sure the receivers are aligned.
“Now he has got to look at the side judge to get a thumbs up so he can snap the football.”
Payton went on.
“I just think it’s something that all of a sudden … it’s going to take away tempo plays, and certainly that’s something we feel we’re pretty good at.”
The league already has made one change in regard to who the quarterback has to look at to begin the play. Whereas now Brees must look at the side judge, he was required before to look over his shoulder to find the referee.