New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Friday, September 30, 2011
"Olin Kreutz did not practice, he's out for this game. Zach Strief did not practice, he's out for this game. Martez Wilson did not practice, he's out for this game. David Thomas did not practice, he's out. Will Herring did not practice (hamstring), he's out. Jon Vilma (knee) was limited, he's questionable. Jonathan Casillas was full, he's probable. Marques Colston (shoulder) was limited, he's questionable. The rest of these guys are all going to be probable: Shaun Rogers, Tracy Porter, they are all full participation, Roman Harper, Tom Johnson, Adrian Arrington, and Jonathon Amaya. Really there are two questionables and both in Vilma and Colston's case I just want to make sure, but I anticipate with the work they got in this week that they'll be ready."
Can you follow up on what you said Wednesday about you going to the Pro Bowl in '06 and noticing some distinguishing characteristics in the players there and did you apply that with your personnel?
"I think two things. Number one, it's a valuable resource in regards to the 80 players that were there because a handful of them are free agents every year so there's a resource you have and having worked with the player for a week you know the player a lot more than maybe you wouldn't have. Number two, I think it helped us validate what we believed in regards to as you evaluate players, the challenge is how do you evaluate a college junior or senior with the idea of what's going to motivate him? You start with the character, the intelligence, the toughness, and then what drives him? Is it just the money or is it more than that? We talk about that. It's important to them so I think it validated more than anything what we believed going in."
It didn't change anything?
"I don't think so because I think we believed that and it confirmed that – man, these guys are something. Not everyone, but most of the guys over there are uniquely driven and obviously very talented athletes. But beyond that, you saw certain guys that had some special qualities about them."
One of your former colleagues Doug Marrone is bringing Syracuse down here to coach. Do you talk to him anymore?
"I knew he was coming. Periodically, he'll talk to some of the assistants. I know there was a call. He might try to swing by here next week with the schedule permitting. I think they play on Saturday in the Dome. It's great to see him doing well. He was one of the originals in '06 so there's always kind of a special attachment to those guys that came then."
Is there something old-fashioned about a game like this with a young quarterback and an elite running back?
"I think there are a number of teams in our league, and I wouldn't just say with a young quarterback, but there's a belief I think in a conviction of philosophically how a team wants to win and what they believe their best chances are to win. I think that the reason it seem different maybe is because of the passing numbers that have spiked in the last few years and here's a team that obviously runs the ball very well and I'm sure there are going to be shot opportunities that they want to get down the field, and yet there's a formula that they believe in. I get that and I appreciate that because it's most important to look closely at your own personnel and figure out how we win with this current team."
Are there any more championship type teams in the league that aren't committed to throwing the ball?
"There are certain divisions. You have to be able to throw the ball effectively. But if you start with the division with Baltimore and Pittsburgh, that's always been a physical division that believes in balance and time of possession. Look at two years ago and that was a formula for us and not many people would say they remembered, but we were sixth in the league in rushing. I think it's hard to win in the long haul if you're unable to do either efficiently enough. And you may be better at one than the other but if you're just one-dimensional I think it becomes more challenging and the defenses become too good. We try to look at that each week with how we can improve in this aspect of our run game and the same way that Jacksonville would look at how they can do some things better in the passing game this week to complement them. That's important and you see Baltimore is throwing the ball better than they ever have and they have some weapons now that complement their running game and you've seen that with Pittsburgh as well."
I noticed you got Mark Ingram involved more in the screen game. Is that something we'll see more?
"We carry like four or five (plays) into each game and when we put them together that night we kind of have an idea of who it's for. Pierre (Thomas) has a couple, Mark has one or two, and (Darren) Sproles has got one or two. At the beginning of the week when you give out the first installation, the screens are in already. He catches it real well. He has very good hands and so does Pierre and so does Darren. Now it's just finding ways to keep them all interested and use their talents."
You're not doing it just to prevent tendencies or anything like that?
"To some degree. That's the challenge for us is not play recognition as much as let's look closely at play tendencies with our personnel as opposed to just our plays. In other words, we have to be able to run off tackle like we did last week with Sproles and we have to be able to throw the ball with Ingram and those types of things with the receivers as well. Every once in a while if you're not careful it's – hey, every time you've done this it's been this and that's what we try to avoid. Tendencies are fine if they're 60-40 or 70-30, you just don't want those 90-10s. You don't realize it but your opponent scouting you says – hey, this personnel has entered the field and they know there's a 90% chance that it's a run or pass."
Your scouting picks up on that?
"Your self-scout (process) does. You just try to look at your personnel and you do a self-scout analysis and periodically Joe Lombardi will say – hey, we need to look at this because when we've been in this, it's all pass. That's important."