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From the opposing sideline: Lions Coach Jim Caldwell on the Saints

Detroit coach held conference call with New Orleans media Wednesday

The top 10 official team photos of the New Orleans Saints at Detroit Lions game on Sunday, October 10, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)

Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Do you see anything different about Nick Fairley up here?
"I think he has 4.5 sacks or something like that. He's playing extremely well. He's always been a talented guy. He's always been effective."

Can you talk about the contributions Kerry Hyder has made and what he's done to make himself in a solid NFL player?
"He's one of those guys that last year he was playing a little different position for us on the interior of the defensive line and every week at practice when he was on the practice squad, he kept showing up. He would create problems for the guys that would try to block him. He was relentless in terms of his work ethic, so we just felt that end was probably the best fit for him because we didn't know if he could get quite big enough to play inside consistently. We suggested he lose some weight, which he did. Most guys that are determined to do so can get it done. (He) transformed his body and he's a very, very effective guy for us. He's one of those guys that just has relentless pursuit and (is) very, very determined."

Do you attribute for someone like that on the roster to being motivation and determination?
"I think it's one of the things that makes a difference. Oftentimes you find guys that have an equivalent talent level, but it's the guy that has the will, desire to work on his craft and give himself an edge. I think that's oftentimes what will separate those guys from the pack."

Sean Payton said he believes Matthew Stafford is playing the best he has in his career. How much do you agree with that assessment?
"I just know that he's been improving consistently. Even before I came here and we (myself and my staff), he was playing well and had some notable years. I think he's been real consistent in terms of his play and he's looking to get better and that's the key with him. He never settles for the level of proficiency that he's at right now and he's trying to find a way to get a little better"

Given the way he's played in the fourth quarter, what does that say about his mental toughness? You should be able to compare since you have tutored some mentally tough guys like Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco.
"Not to use any comparisons because I think that's unfair when you compare Peyton to someone or Joe to someone else, I'm making these statements in regards to Matthew. He's extremely tough mentally. He also doesn't flinch in situations, does not back down and is not afraid to go out and have the ball in his hands to make a difference in the ballgame. I think those are unusual (special) traits."

On the subject of quarterbacks, Drew Brees has completed around 80% percent of his passes this year and has a shot at breaking his own NFL record? Do you see better blocking or receiving this year or do you attribute it to something else?
"I see outstanding play, excellent play as he's always certainly been able to produce. He was 32-of-39 against us (Colts) in the Super Bowl and he's still obviously performing great. Every single game he's going to put numbers up. He's going to play well. He's as good as they come."

You were a part of a long-running, potent offense in Indianapolis, do you see similarities of what has been done in New Orleans similarly?
"I think you can't make comparisons in that regard. I can just tell you in watching the Saints and what they've done it's incredible with the combination of Sean (Payton) and Drew together. They've been prolific and they've done it with a number of different receiving corps and different backs. Year after year, after year, the proficiency is incredible. They do a great job."

What have you seen from the Saints pass rush in recent weeks? It seems like they've found some consistency.
"They have people that can obviously rush the passer, I think everybody has seen the numbers that (Cameron) Jordan has put up, but also what (Nick) Fairley has as well. (Paul) Kruger can rush the passer. We worked with him in Baltimore. He certainly has ability and I also see that they are using (Dannell) Ellerbe (to rush the passer), he has three sacks. They are taking Ellerbe and moving him outside. We had Dannell in Baltimore. All those guys can rush the passer. They can create some problems for you. It's a scheme that has answers for everything that you do, so they know how to put pressure on the quarterback"

What has Rafael Bush, a former Saint contributed to the defense?
"You actually have two, you have (Tyrunn) Walker as well. But nevertheless, he's done a nice job for us. He's smart, he's tough and we're glad we have him."

You mentioned Dannell Ellerbe and he's added a lot to the Saints defense. Could a return by DeAndre Levy be possible?
"We'll see."

How excited are you to see Nick Fairley or Darryl Tapp?
"It's always good to see guys that were once on your team or that type of thing, but it's also one of those things where you are out trying to win ballgames. There won't be a whole lot of chit-chatting, but nevertheless both of those guys know that I wish them well."

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