Saints coach Sean Payton has defended starting cornerback Brandon Browner through all of his penalty and coverage problems this year, but he did not defend his effort on one play during the Saints’ 47-14 loss to Washington on Sunday.
When the Redskins scored on a 78-yard screen pass to go ahead 21-14 in the second quarter, Browner elected to take a shot at guard Spencer Long instead of pursuing running back Matt Jones near the Washington 40. Long was trailing the play, and Browner was only a few yards away from Jones, who then ran untouched to the end zone.
“You have to get to the ball,” Payton said. “We’ve got to play the ball. You don’t want to fight a battle if it doesn’t involve getting to the football. That make sense?”
Video of the play circulated widely Sunday night, with former Saints linebacker Scott Shanle tweeting he was left “speechless, confused, etc. etc.” by Browner’s decision.
Before addressing Browner’s decision on the screen pass directly, Payton added that a lack of effort defensively was not a primary concern.
“It didn’t come up when we were talking about the tape review,” he said. “Overall, it wasn’t a big topic. When you looked at the tape, it wasn’t something that stood out. We had a lot of poor fundamentals and 10 guys on the field. It wasn’t good.”
Browner went without a penalty for the only the second time this season. He has been flagged an NFL-high 17 times, with 15 penalties accepted.
Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins had a perfect 158.3 passer rating, completing 20 of 25 for 324 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. For the year, opposing quarterbacks have a 116.6 efficiency rating against the Saints — by far the highest in the NFL and even better than Tom Brady’s NFL-best rating of 111.1.
The Saints postponed and then canceled an open locker room originally scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Browner was seen leaving the team facility about 1 p.m.
The NFL suspended Junior Galette for two games due to his January arrest for simple battery related to domestic violence, Washington coach Jay Gruden confirmed.
Galette, who signed with Washington after the Saints released him in July, is sitting out this season with a torn Achilles tendon, but the pass rusher can still serve his suspension.
An injured player still receives game checks, so Galette’s suspenson will cost him two game checks even though he cannot play.
Galette was arrested in January after an altercation with a woman at his Kenner home.
Kenner officials dropped the charges, citing a law that requires two people to live together to pursue a domestic violence charge, and no other charges were filed. A civil suit alleging Galette trapped the woman in an abusive relationship was dismissed in August.
Galette also was allegedly depicted in a video the Saints submitted to the NFL of a 2013 Miami Beach altercation that shows a man wearing a white shirt, white shorts, white shoes and sunglasses can be seen in the video striking two people, including a woman, multiple times with a belt, then returning to the fight later and throwing several more punches.
A photo was later provided to The Advocate from Galette’s deleted Instagram that showed Galette and four friends on a beach wearing similar clothing to the men in the video.