New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
What have you seen out of Deion Jones in his rookie year?
One thing you would say when you watch him play, first off you see the speed sideline to sideline. He's a guy that's a run and hit player. I think he fits their scheme well and from Week One to now he's productive. I think he's picked up their system very well. I think he's having a very tremendous rookie season."
Michael Thomas is a few yards away from 1,000. You joked at the start of the year that you don't play fantasy football, but if you did you'd draft him. How would you evaluate his rookie year with only one game left?
"I think one of his great strengths is his ability to work and focus. He truly loves playing, so gamedays are that much more important. The group in general and when you start looking at all those guys between Snead (Willie Snead IV), (Brandin) Cooks, (Brandon) Coleman and Tommylee (Lewis), these guys are all grinding and watching extra tape and preparing. He comes in no different. He's very competitive. I think he's handled that transition very well."
Can you discuss Drew Brees' consistency at this stage in his career where he's able to put up these numbers at this age?
"His training, his work ethic and all the things we've talked about for a whole time, it's never taken for granted. Certainly we've changed in the years gone by what we've tried to do and maybe how many balls he'll throw early in the week, he's as much in tune to that as anyone and I think he does a great job adjusting and adapting to the schedules and getting himself both mentally and physically ready to play each week."
Is there anything that surprises you at the year he's had, with someone being so productive at this age is usually uncharted territory?
"I'm not surprised. I think that in some regards, part of what we're doing now with our running game and what we're doing with our protections and how those guys up front are playing are helping in allowing him to have that overall success you want him to have. It's not just that we're throwing the football. I think it's important that we're scoring, our third down numbers are strong, our red zone numbers are strong and I think that balance that we've talked about in these last few offseasons, we've seen more of it this year and it's something we have to continue to build on."
As we enter the final game is there anything that surprised you about Michael Thomas as the season progressed?
"I think when you draft a player, you're certain of a few things and then there's some uncertainty to a number of things and I think fortunately his competitive nature and his ability to focus on just playing receiver and his ability to focus on each rep…It's hard for him to have a walkthrough. He's one of those guys who's jogging at least half-speed if not more to everything he's doing and I would say his run after the catch…when we drafted this player we thought he had that, but I think he's tough when he catches the ball in space for any defender."
What kind of challenge does Vic Beasley present?
"You see his speed on the snap. You are playing especially on the road what may be the last professional regular season game in the Georgia Dome…I think it's a loud venue. It's going to provide a challenge to both tackles and from year one to year to, you see him bend and hit the edge. I think he's done a real good job of incorporating some power into his rushes. I think he's having a tremendous season."
Do you see differences in this matchup since Week Three?
"There's some things that are different. There are some things that aren't. I think they do a great job of getting to the running game. I think their offensive line is playing extremely well. You have to figure out a way to replicate the speed of the zone scheme they run. The landmarks are wider than maybe most. The runners are getting to those landmarks. If they feel that defense gets dented in any way they're cutting up(field) or cutting back. Off of that, they're getting the ball down the field with some deep play action boots and nakeds. I think the receiving corps are much improved from this time a year ago. Of course Julio (Jones) is still there, but then you're watching those other guys. (Mohamed) Sanu's involved and playing a big part of what they're doing. You're seeing (Taylor) Gabriel come into his own, (Justin) Hardy. These guys are playing lights out on offense and I think defensively you see the team speed and you see the cohesiveness that they're trying to build."
Do you think your defense is better equipped to play them than last time?
"We're getting ready to see. Hopefully we can do a better job this time around. Obviously that game started off in a fashion where we were up seven. We had the chance to get the ball back and we turned the ball over on a muffed punt and instead of having the ball with an opportunity to build on that lead very quickly thereafter it's tied, so from that point on there wasn't a lot of good."
Does this game being the last regular season game in the Georgia Dome have any significance?
"No, it just seems like when you have a division game you have a lot of hard-fought games. We went through the history of this matchup and there's been so many games decided by a field goal or decided by six points or less and I think ultimately you keep getting back to the turnovers. We were minus two when we played them earlier in the season."
Do you think that some voters and some people have become numb to how consistently productive Drew Brees is?
"I don't think we've become numb. I don't think what he does is ever overlooked, certainly from his peers. I think when you're here on a daily basis and see what he goes through in preparation and then how he practices, I think it makes complete sense."
What do you guys see in Robenson Therezie?
"We see a safety with speed, a guy that can run. He's played on special teams. He was a late release for them. We had a roster spot and we felt like it was a good opportunity to look at a younger player. We had some real good grades on him in the preseason. Delvin Breaux was going to I/R. We felt like it was an opportunity for us to get a guy in here and on our roster and have a chance to evaluate both in the short and long-term."