The New Orleans Saints take on the Seattle Seahawks on the road in Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season.
New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton
Conference call with local media
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
What have you guys learned over the years just about the way you handle the travel of these trips, just staying an extra night, what was the benefit of doing that and what have you learned about it?
"I think it starts with if you're going to be landing any time after 5 a.m., our research and people we spend a lot of time with, they suggest staying that night in the city you play, traveling during during daylight hours. I think there's been a lot of research done on it. Obviously, the NBA, baseball those teams deal with it a lot more than we do. So it comes up periodically. With a West Coast trip that comes up maybe how you want to handle when you travel to London but it's not near as frequent as a challenge like the other sports leagues."
Does anything about you guys' schedule changes as far as when you'll practice and things like that?
"It will all change. Yeah, it will all change. We will push everything back a day, treat tomorrow like a Tuesday, Thursday like a Wednesday, Friday like a Thursday. We will practice a little bit more on Saturday than we normally would. But yes."
What did you sort of see from Marcus Davenport in his game back yesterday? It looked like he was really disruptive.
"It's good to have him back in the lineup. You feel his length, that's the first thing. He can get his hands on (people) and, man, it becomes difficult. (You feel his length and two you feel his power after that. So it was good to (be) having a few of these guys back that were able to play last night. Hopefully we can continue to get healthy."
I don't know if this is just my imagination or recency bias, but are you guys getting more balls tipped at the line of scrimmage and is there anything that can be done to avoid that?
"Good question. Sometimes that can be the release, the quarterback, sometimes it can be coincidence. I'd have to look at that specifically relative to Jameis (Winston), but I don't know. Look, I thought we protected well last night and generally speaking if you're doing that and the rush isn't getting home then there's a good chance then you're going to get more of a read it and kind of react where a lineman may put himself in the throwing lane but it's a good question."
What is your judgment of receivers and tight ends ability to get open and paint the right picture for the quarterback this year since you have so much inexperience in those areas? Has that been inconsistent?
"I think that it's ongoing. We had some good looks last night, some real good looks. I did not think we played as well at receiver last night as I would have hoped. I thought we had separation. It's a soft zone team if you're looking at it, and so at times you have to come underneath to your check downs, your underneath patterns. But it's a work in progress, we'll continue to grind on it."
The screen to Juwan Johnson, I think in the third quarter, fourth quarter that you guys didn't get off, is there something different that should have happened on that play or was the rush just too quick?
"No, that was the last play before we were taking a knee. Listen, it was set up well. It was just a miss by Jameis. I think he felt the threat of the corner outside. It was a soft zone. But I think he felt the corner might have been a factor in it. And that was really the extent of it."
You said you guys liked Brian Johnson from afar a couple weeks ago when you picked him up, what did you learn about him last night in some tough conditions?
"He did a good job, fantastic in conditions like that. He was outstanding. I was really proud of him, he received a game ball. To come in like that, it's a tough place to kick and he was more than ready."
On Alvin (Kamara's) touchdown, he said that he was supposed to run kind of angle out and he ended up just sitting down…
"Yeah, look, it's an arrow route, which means you kind of go into the flat and you put your foot in the ground, you come back in and then escape back out. And he was smart enough to read it was more of a red two coverage so as he kind of angled out, he kind of just throttled. Certain coverages, there's a guy covering you and you're using that route to separate. We mishandled the snap, but fortunately, were able to pick it up and then still complete the pass."
His ability to do that and to read that, how does that help Jameis Winston?
"Yeah, I mean, look, we're not splitting the atom here. Alright, I mean, it was a soft zone and so it happens periodically and Alvin's got real, real good football savvy, and the coverage was soft. And it was the tail end of a two-minute drill and it stayed soft. And so rather than mindlessly running out to the flat coming back in and then he abbreviated that and sat and presented a really easy target for the QB."
How do you feel like you guys covered after the early explosive play?
"Yeah, I thought we covered well. I thought, man, our guys responded. I thought it was a hard-fought game. I don't know how well it was officiated. But nonetheless we can't control that."
Could you provide us with a sense I guess of how David Onyemata has been doing during the suspension?
"He's been fantastic. He's in good shape. Anxious to see him this week. It'll be great to have him back. He's a significant part of what we do. Yeah, he's been training well and it's kind of a progress but I know he's in real good football shape."
You entered the season without him and without obviously (Malcom) Brown and (Sheldon) Rankins, top three in the rotation there. And through six games. I think they've given up at point 80.3 yards per game, ranks third in the NFL. What would you say just about how they've managed the front third of the season?
"Listen, it has been one of the strengths of our team. We have defended the run well. That helps when you can get an opponent one-dimensional. I think that it's been extremely important. That whole front unit, talking about the defensive line, the linebackers and even the force unit, safeties. We're playing really good defense and that's one thing that will keep you in every game you're going to play."
Saints tackle Terron Armstead
How was it to get back out there the first week and how did everything feel?
"It was great, being back out there with the guys, competing, that was great. Personally there is some rust to knock off and adjustments to make while I'll fully get back into the swing of things for what I'm dealing with. It was fun to get the chance to get a big victory."
How disappointing was it to get back and all of a sudden lose a guy who plays aside you in-game in Andrus Peat?
"Extremely disappointed, unfortunate for Andrus to be dealing with an injury. Definitely looking forward to having the unit back together, but we've done a great job with the depth and the guys who have prepared, doing everything that they can throughout the week to be prepared for these types of situations. Hopefully we can get Andrus back soon. We're really high on our depth."
This has almost become an annual question, but is that almost part of the culture on your line and going through the injuries with guys missing time every year and you guys stepping up. Has that become part of the identity of the line?
"I honestly think that's maybe the norm throughout the NFL. It's such a physical sport and a tough business. I feel like you have a harder time finding a line or team that doesn't have guys filling in throughout the season. We've been in a space that the guys fill in for us play at such a high level that they come in and it's almost seamless. We're fortunate to have the types of guys in our room that come in and play ball."
As far as last night's game goes, how much would you say it becomes difficult for defenses to hold down Alvin Kamarea for an extended period of time? It just seems whatever they do or how they adapt, he comes up in critical times?
"AK's a creative player. He's amazing. Everything that he is able to do is impossible to shut him down. You have to try to limit him and contain him the best he possibly can. He's the offense. All eyes on AK, he still finds ways to produce and he just excels and there are still so many things to unlock him and unlock through the offense. I feel once we have the opportunity to unlock with him and unlock through this offense, I think we will really find a chance to tap in and find our rhythm and have a chance to be really dangerous. It's really about execution. We really have to get ourselves rolling and give Alvin a chance to be as good as he can be."
What has to happen to get to that point?
"That's kind of a loaded question (laughter) or a loaded answer, but I think it's moreso just execution, attention to detail, everybody trusting each other, having that rhythm, continuity with each other. Some of those things come with time. They come with just doing it. You get confidence from doing it, from demonstrated ability, that's one of the things Sean (Payton) is saying and I 100 percent agree. It happens. It happens once or twice, seeing what it feels like and getting that confidence. Once our offense starts playing with that confidence, we can score with anybody."
What are your impressions about how Jameis Winston has handled the role and played having seen him in this starting quarterback role for a couple months?
"I think Jameis has done a great job. He's done a great job. We're a 4-2 football team right now and could easily…I feel like we could have another game or two as well. I I think Jameis has done a great job. He's picking up the offense extremely well. That's not easy to do at all. Drew (Brees) ran this ship for 15 years. That's a lot to ask of a quarterback with this New Orleans Saints offense, this Sean Payton offense to be able to read and adjust on the fly. There's different personnel and different guys running different routes. There's a ton of different plays. There's a lot to grasp. Jameis has done a great job. I'm sure he's glad to (eventually) have those games where we light it up and are explosive and that's what we're striving for, that's the goal. Let me take that back, winning is the goal absolutely. But we want to have the chance to put our best foot forward, kind of outplay our defense in a sense, make our defense play up to our level. That's what we want to do and that would be the best Saints offense."
Last week I talked to Ronald Curry about how every time we see Jameis in the media or any setting when he's talking to us or giving interviews, he's just an overwhelmingly positive guy. And then last night we saw him getting a little chirpy on the sidelines too with Tre'Quan Smith, so we see that positivity. Is that how it is when the cameras are off? I've never heard him complain about Tampa Bay letting him go or feeling like he's an angry guy with a chip on his shoulder. Is that a part of his makeup?
"Yeah, Jameis is 100 percent a genuine person. You really would never get a chance to fully understand him or acknowledge how genuine he is unless you have a chance to be around him and it's great. Honestly it's amazing being around Jameis, I love the guy to death. That positivity and the energy he brings, he's not trying to. It's legitimately him. That's what makes it the best. So even when you have a conversation between him and Tre'Quan going back and forth, Jameis is probably saying some…I had no idea what he was saying, but his mannerisms and the way he speaks with passion and all that is him. You could be talking about a ping pong tournament, but that's just how he speaks. His facial expressions, hands, mannerisms, that's him and you have no choice but to want to play for a guy like Jameis, want to win, want to succeed, keep him clean. He's just a great personality to have."
What kind of responsibility do you think that you and the rest of Jameis' teammates feel to him this week? I don't mean to make one week bigger than another, but it seems like it could be big on emotion for him, playing his old team, to rally around him in any particular way this week, do you guys feel any kind of personal responsibility?
"I think if anything, the standpoint would be probably personal with Jameis, probably a game…I'm not sure what his personal goals or things he has set against his former team. For us we're going out to win the game the best way we know how. We have a tough opponent coming in two and we have to go out and play our best game. I don't see any special performances. I don't see anything getting altered for this week. Our objective and focus is winning."
Being around Sean Payton's presence for as long as you have been is there anything from his attention to detail from cleats, sleeves to weather, game planning, how much is his attention detail a key to the success that you guys have week after week, year after year?
"Yeah that's been a key to his success through his personal coaching career. He's extremely detailed in a lot of things people wouldn't think mattered, but to him it's the biggest difference in the game. Time after time, these things show up and he's not one to be shy to pull a video or pull the statistics and let you know he was right. Critical situations, or it can be a split, a receiver split, the tight end, is he hugging the ball enough where the defense can get a read on it. The littlest things that can make a difference in winning a game, time after time he's able to show you that these things are huge and key to winning games in the NFL, because the margin for error is so small."
Does he sometimes put them up there when someone doesn't do the right thing?
"Absolutely. If Sean is right, he's going to let you know he's right.."
I know he's on the opposite side of the ball, but what does David Onyemata's return mean to this team?
"Presence, physical presence. David is a special player. He has made himself the player he is and to have the respect he has throughout the league for good reason. He's a hell of a player. He plays every down like it is his last. It will be great for someone who was out for six weeks, you can't help but get better when you add someone of Big O's stature into the defense."
Defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon
The team has been building toward being a really good run defense for the last four or five years and you just joined them this year and they are as good as ever. From your experience is it the mentality or personnel that makes it seem so good at run defense?
"I think it's both actually and then add a little bit of coaching onto that. It's really emphasized in our meeting rooms and I feel like it's something that helps other parts of our game. It comes from our coaching and we have guys that actually want to stop the run and enjoy stopping the run. I feel we are simultaneous on that."
How much better will you guys be when you have David Onyemata back?
"It will definitely add to the group. He's somebody we watch on film that has perfect teach tape on, really technique and stopping the run."
What do you say about the defensive mentality after you give up that rare explosive touchdown early in the first quarter and rally to give up basically nothing after that?
"Being new here, it's good to see our defense not flinch when those types of things happen. That's bound to happen. We play against really good guys. Seeing us not flinch and taking a step back and tightening up after was really good."
How about Demario Davis' role not only as a player but as a leader in creating that mentality?
"He's a leader, such a leader for our team and definitely our side of the ball. He's a guy that leads by example day in and day out and you see it at practice, him coming in early, just to get in his groove before a game or a practice. He takes everything seriously and that shows on gameday."
You saw Tom Brady up and close and personal in February in the Super Bowl playing for Kansas City, but what are the challenges in playing him?
"He's just been around forever. He knows different defenses when you see them. He knows certain players when he sees them. He knows coaches when he comes up against them. He's prepared for a lot, so it's always nice to throw a couple wrinkles in when you play him."