A few short takes from New Orleans Coach Sean Payton'sWednesday teleconference:
- In a league where offenses have thrived the last several years – especially in the passing game – Seattle remains one of the top pass defenses in the league. The Seahawks allow 226 passing yards per game this season, ninth fewest in the NFL. Last season, they allowed 210.2, second-fewest in the league; two and three years ago, it was 185.6 and 172, respectively, which were fewest in the league; and in 2012, it was 203.1, sixth fewest. "When you watch the tape it's really two things," Payton said. "They're very talented, and I would say they've got outstanding technique. They're playing a little bit of man-to-man, but you see a lot of zone coverage. It forces you to come underneath with throws. I think that combination of coverage and what they're able to do with their rush plans make it extremely challenging."
- One area in which the Seahawks are struggling is in the running game. With the retirement of running back Marshawn Lynchand an early injury to quarterback Russell Wilson, Seattle hasn't had the usual effectiveness in its running game (82.7 yards per game, 27th in the league, and 3.1 yards per carry). "They're dealing with a rash of injuries like we are, on that side of the ball specifically," Payton said. "They've had a lot of different offensive linemen in the game, all of that along with the quarterback getting nicked up. All of those things can lead to maybe the numbers you aren't looking for at the start of the year."
- If it's Seattle week, that means a revisit of the trade that sent tight end Jimmy Grahamto the Seahawks in exchange for center Max Ungerand draft picks. "It seems like a while ago," Payton said. "Max is doing well. He's made the transition and helped us. I think it was really about acquiring numbers and the opportunity for us to select two defensive players with (linebackers) Steph (Anthony) and Hau('oli) Kikaha, but all in all there were a handful of things that went into it, but mainly trying to improve our offensive line and also our defense."
- Two free agent linebackers have started for the Saints in the last three games, when New Orleans has opened with five defensive backs. One is Craig Robertson, has been the Saints' leading tackler. The other is Nate Stupar, who initially was scripted to have a bigger impact on special teams, but has been a reliable contributor on defense. Stupar had a team-leading eight tackles, and a pass defended, against Kansas City. "The evaluation a year ago came off the kicking game and some defense," Payton said. "He's playing more snaps for us defensively and I think playing pretty well. I think he moves well. I think he's athletic and I think he has a pretty good beat on what we do defensively. I thought he played pretty well the other day."