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Payton: Strong Running Game Provides "More Teeth in Your Play-Action Pass"

Posted Dec 8, 2011

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Media Availability
Thursday, December 8, 2011

Watch Payton's Presser

Opening Statement:
Turk McBride (left ankle) did not practice, Mark Ingram (right toe) did not practice, Jonathan Casillas (right knee) did not practice, Scott Shanle (left shoulder) was limited, Sedrick Ellis (left hamstring) was limited, and Jon Vilma (left knee) was full.  Today was mostly third down like all Thursdays.  We went outside.”

Do you feel like you haven’t been outside in a while?
“It’s been a while.  I don’t know how long.  I thought the work we got was good.  I think the temperatures were similar to what we’re going to see on Sunday.”

Was that what you were aiming to do with practicing outside today?
“Just to create that (type of) environment.  We’ll try to do the same tomorrow.”

Are you going to try to do that Saturday in Tennessee at their stadium?
“We are going to go to Tennessee and do it.”

How much will you practice in Tennessee?
“It’s more of a half an hour walk-through and just kind of getting used to the field conditions and really the turf there.”

Are you not worried about getting out of your routine for Saturday?
“We’ve done this before.  I would say this has been something we’ve done at least half a dozen times.  In fact, in ’09 it became a pretty standard routine for us with quite a few places where we just ended up having what we would have here Saturday morning and flying out at 1:00pm, flying out earlier and having it at the stadium we were going to.  I would say it’s probably part of ‘Plan B’ in regards to a second routine.”

Do you ever feel like the Saints don’t received enough credit for being enough of a physical football team?
“I think it comes down to winning and losing.  Certainly that was an important element of what we were able to accomplish a couple of years ago.  I think it’s been an emphasis for us certainly this year in regards to how we want to play.  We’ve had some good road wins really.  Cincinnati last year was a physical game on the road, but I think you try not to as best you can to allow that.  I think the points of emphasis we make each week within the framework that we’re playing and the conditions we’re playing in, we pay close attention to.  There are some games that kind of unfold in a certain way that dictate you run or throw more, or defend run or defend pass more.  We just have to be ready to adapt and handle that.”

Did the preseason game against the Titans help you out at all?
“I think from a standpoint of personnel, it allows you to see a team up close and personal and recognize some of the strengths and weaknesses.  To me, it seems like that was two years ago.  Every once in a while, you have a preseason game that you repeat and play that team again in the regular season.  It seems to happen every other or every third year.  I do think that, probably more than anything else, helps you with personnel and your evaluation of certain players.  Our scouts do a lot in the preseason when they’re looking at a team that comes in during the preseason because we’re looking at rosters and who’s cut.  I think from that element, it does.”

When you said it’s a point of emphasis a minute ago, did you mean to be more physical?
“Just in regards to running the football.  I was using the running game as that example.  We point out week-to-week it’s one of the most important elements to winning and losing is winning that battle and understanding the importance of playing very physical football.  It’s the very nature of the game.  It’s necessary in order to win.  Regardless of the type of offense or defense you have, that element has to exist if you’re winning.  It will be an important element in this week’s game.”

Did you feel different last year going into your games compared to this year with the running game?
“I think there’s more teeth in your play-action pass.  There’s one element to being able to control a game sometimes and that’s being able to rush the football.  It’s harder to do when you want to control a certain tempo or how you want to play in the second half.  It’s an important element we think (is) to winning.  Those totals each week might vary, but the ability to be two-dimensional as opposed to one-dimensional I believe is important.  That doesn’t mean there are weeks where there are a lot more throws or more runs, but I think that it’s an important element to what you do to defenses and what they have to do (to you).  You hear a lot of the times defenses talk about making an offense one-dimensional and I understand that.  It’s important that we don’t allow that to happen.”

You’re not saying you want to get 150 yards every game running the ball, but you want to run efficiently?
“Yes, it’s interesting how these things tie together.  You want to be able to operate with efficiency on (both) first and second down.  The one thing we’ve done this year as well is we’ve picked and chosen opportunities to run the ball on third down, not necessarily third and one, probably more this year than we have in a while where that too can help your conversion rate and third down efficiency. But I think those early downs of staying ahead of the chains and putting yourself in manageable third down situations, there are some games where your third down attempts are low and you had a very productive game offensively and that means generally on first and second downs you were getting first downs.  I think it all fits together and that’s who we want to be when we look at our goals and make up our offense with our personnel.”

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