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Payton: Importance In This Season Was to Find Offensive Balance

Payton gives the first injury report, talks about the Saints running game and the Lions defensive front.


New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton
Media Availability
Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Injury report/opening statement: "Wide receiver Lance Moore, hamstring, did not practice. John Gilmore with his toe did not practice and linebacker Jonathan Casillas with his knee did not practice. Robert Meachem with his knee was full. Jon Vilma with his knee was limited. Malcolm Jenkins, neck was full and Jonathon Amaya, shoulder, was full."

With three healthy running backs this year as opposed to last, can you talk about what the run game does for you, especially at this time of the year?
"They're (running backs) different in their styles. I would start with Darren (Sproles) and his skill set. I think for us in putting a plan together there are certain things for us that are easier to do with his strengths and weaknesses. Pierre (Thomas) is a player that has been very versatile for us. He runs extremely well with balance, good vision. He's very good with protections and understands flare control in the passing game and Chris (Ivory) is someone who probably has a little different presence in regards to how he runs with his pad level. I think the importance in this season was to find that balance offensively and the ability to control games at times. Short yardage and goal line is something that can be affected by a better running game, but I also think it helps with our play action pass. It's just one more aspect to our offense that can help us be proficient."

What do you think of Detroit's run game?
"I think the challenge of the running game with Detroit to some degree and they have gone through some injuries, but as you come up with ways to defend the passing game, specifically Calvin Johnson, there are certain things that concern you with how many you are fitting in with the run front and so a lot of it will come out of one back, spread sets, that stresses your defense when you pay attention to what they're doing in the passing game and so I think that having a pretty good mix in regards to your fronts and coverages is important and is something that we're going to have to do a good job with in this game.."

Do you still envision Lance Moore, John Gilmore and Jonathan Casillas playing in the postseason?
"Yes, absolutely. I think what you're asking is where is their health. Aside from the report, that's all. That's it."

Can you talk about the Lions defensive line?
"It's a physical front and they're pretty quick. You see the speed with which they play. They play with great effort. When you take a player like (Kyle) Vanden Bosch, who is all over the field and really plays snap to whistle, as a whole, I think your first impression is when you turn on the film on the defense is how active the front is. They do a great job of playing the run and rushing the passer. They're coached very well and they're very talented. That's certainly one of the things that we have to contend with."

What makes Matthew Stafford an excellent quarterback?
"He has that size. The experience that he has had in our league has helped him. He has tremendous arm strength. I said the other day, I think the one thing you see from him now is anticipation of understanding what coverages are doing and what he wants to do with the football. His decisiveness and ability to make quick decisions I think has really helped him this year."

Do you think that Calvin Johnson is one of the league's elite receivers?

"I think all of us would say that and it's based on really his production. He's been exceptional. He's taken over games. He's disciplined. He's a guy that has good long speed for his size. He's a big target. That's what becomes problematic, when you're in good coverage and he's still able to make plays. That's a challenge for the corners and the safeties."

The December 4 game was probably one of the most charged environments Detroit has played in. Do you think they might be more prepared for it this time?

"I think each week the teams prepare very thoroughly. I think that game if you watched it or were there was a very close game for most of the game. I feel that what teams do now when you advance to the postseason is you get on your routine, put a plan in place and emphasize the details and the little things that win or lose games for you. Those are third downs, red zone and ball security. Those will be the things that will determine the outcome of this game."

In the first game, the Lions had some composure-related penalties. Was that a result of the atmosphere in the stadium?
"If you look at some of the yardage penalties, a few pass interference calls were the ones that helped us. But, I think playing on the road, you deal with the noise element. That would be the first thing coming to my mind about playing here."

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