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Payton Sums Up Week One of SB Prep

    <span>              <span style="">Opening Statement:</span>  "Today was our last practice here.  We'll travel Monday morning.  There's nothing we post today from an injury standpoint.  The next injury update will be Wednesday of next week."    

Given that Reggie Bush has played in two National Championship games and played at a high profile school like USC, how do you think he'll handle this situation?

"I think that experience for him in playing at a school like that, you could draw some comparisons to a college National Championship game in regards to the event. But I think he'll handle the week of preparation just like most of these other guys will. I think that experience, though, certainly can help a player like him or David Thomas, who was at Texas. A number of these guys with the bigger programs have been in the pressures of games like this, and already in the playoffs ‑‑ I don't know how many playoff games we've had now since '06, but I think all those are positive experiences. "

Do you feel like Will Smith, who had the surgery last year in the groin, is that a major concern? Does it tie to that?

"No. It's a good question, a fair question, but no, they're different. He's doing well. But they're different deals."

There were a couple of instances in the last game where Minnesota fumbled the ball, your guys tried to pick it up and run and wound up losing it. When Gregg Williams harps on every loose ball being a scoring opportunity as much as he does, do you naturally have to live with a few of those?

"I think partly. I think there are times where I think a player has got some common sense, and he feels like it's a chance to, depending on his footing, and really each play is uniquely different, and there is that mentality to scoop and score, and that doesn't change. And yet there were a number of cases the other night where you pulled your hair out because the ball was on the ground quite a bit. It's just something that you continue to work with in regards to your decision as to if you're falling on it or trying to pick it up. I think in each case the situation is different. But I think getting to the ball is key."

Are the types of long passes Drew Brees throws against certain coverages somewhat of a phenomenon?

"I don't know that it's a phenomenon. I think when you evaluate as much bump and run coverage that teams play, you don't see as many just go old-fashioned bombs thrown, for instance, and completed. You still see some, but the percentages when you drop back and throw it versus bump and run diminish some, and if a receiver can win on his release, then there's a good chance that you're going to lead him down the field. But what happens in bump and run is you have a chance for a little higher percentage completion by putting it on the receiver's back shoulder. So I think you see a lot of teams doing that more and more, and they have been for the last four or five years in trying to come up with more efficient throws versus that coverage."
Is that something you preach?

"I think it's something that, number one, the quarterback has got a good feel for and your receivers have a good feel for, and I think if you've watched a lot of film, you see ‑‑ certainly you see a lot of teams executing and doing that, and it puts more pressure on the corner. "

Having been able to kind of slow down say a Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne presents I'm sure some similar issues. How do you defend against him? Do you put one guy on another?

"Well, you're mixed again with the deployment of your defense. But he's a talented player who's got great hips, strong hands in traffic. He was in the Pro Bowl the year we were over there on the AFC's team, and he's a guy that's got great ball skills. His timing with Peyton is fantastic, and all those things go into the challenge you face. He's certainly one of the elite receivers in this league. "
One of the things that new coaches or new teams that reach the Super Bowl always talk about is the distractions that come with it. How has your team been dealing with that?

"I think pretty well. I think this week we've been able to get a lot of things out of the way and I think we're at a point, and we've done this before, relocated, if you will, and set up your whole operations in a hotel. That's something that we've had to do a number of times recently. I think they've handled it well. I think the main focus is on the game and the focus is on the preparation. It starts with the players you have in the locker room, and we've got the right type guys to handle that."

Can you talk about the positives and negatives of having a bye week before a Super Bowl?

"The positives about the bye week is it allows you to get the hotels, the tickets, all the logistics taken care of with your family members, and I think all those guys have been able to do that, and not speaking for everyone, but chances are by today if you haven't heard from the player, the coach, it's probably not good news in regards to tickets. But I think they've been able to handle all that."

On just the bye week, this year is the first time I guess you guys have won two bye week games after bye weeks. How much do you draw on that success?

"I think a lot. I think in both cases it gave us a chance, because we were nicked up going into the Giant game and certainly the Arizona game, and in both cases we looked at a schedule closely, looked at the time on the field, the time off the field, and then here we are again with another bye, and yet there's some differences about the schedule and yet there's some similarities. I think you can reflect on that in a positive way."
How prepared are you both on and off the field for the coming week?

"You've got time, and I think that we're getting the nuts and bolts of the plan together. There will be some things we take care with next week, but I like the layout that I'm looking at right now for next week in regards to our schedule, our routine, the hotel setup, and the ability really to provide the player the ability to say no. That's most important this week in regards to any requests. I think that the sooner we get down there, which will be Monday morning we fly, we'll get a layout of our practice facility at Miami, get a good layout of the hotel and the meeting rooms. We have plenty of space. (starting with) James (Nagaoka), there's been a number of people that have to handle the logistics of this, and I think that that part of it has gone smooth so far."

One of the previous things you talked about is how this team is built. Was there ever a point you thought this team has what it takes and the right pieces to win a championship?

"Well, I think in '06 it was hard to project maybe the success you would or wouldn't have, and certainly in my first year ‑‑ there's some uncertainty in regards to how good you are. We played that preseason, I can't even recall what our preseason record was. We felt like there were still a number of holes to fill, and there were questions about Deuce's (McAllister) health and Drew Brees' health. But each year slowly and steadily we've been able to find the right players and instill a winning attitude and approach to how we do things in the off‑season, how we do things from A to Z, and it starts with getting the right players and just giving them a chance, giving them a decent plan where they can be successful, having the right leadership, and putting the team ahead of any individual's goals. New England showed a lot of people the way, if you were paying attention. If you weren't, then it probably wasn't going to matter. But if you were paying attention, you saw a team that did a great job of preparing hard and working together and having success, and that's something that I think in any business you've got to look closely at who's doing well in your industry, or else you're going to fall behind. "

Is there a point during a season where you thought, man, we could make a run? Was there ever a point where you thought I think this team could have this type of season?

"We felt in the off‑season we had a chance to be good. You don't know how injuries are going to treat you. You don't know how the schedule is going to treat you. There were some challenging games when you looked at it before the start of the year that you knew was going to be tough hurdles. But I thought we handled that part of it pretty well. I thought we traveled well and played well on the road, and I thought we hit some stretches of adversity and played in some tough games. I couldn't tell you how many games we've played now this year in the regular season, but you go back and look through, falling behind at Carolina or playing Buffalo in a fourth quarter tight game or coming back against Miami, it's a long season, but we played with leads, we've played with deficits, and I thought that this team improved during the course of the year and handled those spots pretty well. "

How have you gotten the right type of player in here and in many cases gotten them to do things a certain way?

"Well, I think it's always challenging. I think the player's agent and the coach's agent and the mother and the wife, everybody wants what's best for the individual, and yet it gets back to the character of the player you're looking at and what's important to the player. We as coaches want the best for our players just like we would for our children. But I think that those are things that can pull at the overall goal, and I think we constantly have to remind and just talk about and put team first in everything we do. And yet it's something I think you battle all the time, and I think it starts with getting the right people that can handle that tough game against Tampa Bay, for instance, where you lose in overtime, and the reaction is what you want or the response is what you want. If you don't have that, I think winning is one thing, but when you hit a stretch of adversity which happens in our league, that's where the fabric or the makeup of your team is important."

In that regard does it help to have players who were cast‑offs from other teams or undrafted or not necessarily your prime‑time players?

"I think each team is made up in our league of players maybe that were either waived or maybe team parted ways with. But what really helps is having the player that has got that team mindset or that work ethic or is driven or wants to be as good as your vision as a coach for them. I think it's important that the makeup of the player that goes into the overall team I think is critical."

Jon Gruden was talking this week about Drew's athletic ability, and he thinks it's very underrated. Do you agree with that?

"I would agree. I think there's that stereotype of someone who's 6'2" like Drew or maybe or 6'4" or 6'5" where you draw a parallel. He's an amazing athlete. You just go back to that Miami game where he scores the touchdown and he's leaping over the upright, and he's someone that when you just look at his skill set in regards to his foot quickness, his hand size, his ability to quickly ‑‑ and get past the mental aspect, we've talked about that a lot. But his foot speed and ball location, those are traits that are rare. And I think that probably is a little bit underrated with him."

Were you able to incorporate his athletic ability into your game plan?

"Sure we do. He handles the nakeds well, he can throw on the run well. He does a good job out of the pocket, and changing the launch point is important when we can. There's been a number of plays this season where he's pulled it up and ran or bought time or stepped up and came out of traffic. It's an imperfect pocket. If you really tried to chart percentages, it would be 30 to 35 percent where there's going to be an adjustment or something is going to have to change in regards to maybe what you originally practiced, and he does a good job in those aspects. "
Do you have some former coaches special in your life you're inviting to the game?

"I'm sure with each player there's someone close to them that they want at the game. I've got the two coaches that you guys have seen around our training camp will be at the Super Bowl, guys that I've had a chance to play for. It gives you a chance ‑‑ there's a lot more than just immediate family that are pulling for the individual participant or the player. There's a roomful of people that have had some part to this player's success along the way. You know, an English teacher in eighth grade that remembers tutoring or working with someone. We all have those people that have had a hand in our lives, and I think that they ‑‑ they're proud when they see someone that they once knew. And I think all of us have benefitted from those people. So that's one of the neat things about a game like this."

Who were the two coaches you brought in?

"Well, I'm not bringing (them in), they're getting a ticket. J.R. Bishop was my high school coach, and he's been to our training camp four years now, and you guys have seen him out there. He was a big influence on my career. He was just a big influence for me as a student, as a sophomore in high school, and a backup quarterback that was trying to figure things out. Not letting me play a game because I got a D on an English paper, teaching me and trying to get me pointed in the right direction. So he's a coach that comes to our training camp that I'll have for a week and really appreciate his friendship and what he's meant, and then his associate and someone that I've never played for but who has come to our training camp, Dick Dullaghan is another great high school coach that has been around our team, and there's a laundry list of these people. Coach (Bill) Mallory, Mike's dad, who coached at Indiana University for so many years, who spoke to our team back in training camp who was at training camp for a week will be there this week and have a chance to be around our guys. Those are people that are excited and proud of their input. "
You guys pipe in crowd noise when you're at home or being on the road, but being the Super Bowl is in kind of a neutral site, what do you do?

"That's a good question. I think you end up with more that steady noise, if you will, but you don't end up with the extremes. It's not going to be the same advantage you had when you played at home in the dome, and you know it's not going to be that same type of disadvantage when you travel. I think it's a back and forth momentum type noise. So it doesn't become, from that aspect, as challenging as maybe going on the road to truly play in a road game. "

Can you talk about what the inspiration of this team has been to the city of New Orleans the last four and a half years since Katrina?

"I think that prior to coming here, you can't appreciate maybe the relationship or the ‑‑ how close the team is to this city. Logistically, I've said this earlier in the week, the players here are closer to and living more amongst the community just because of the layout here in this region. But there's been such a long faithful fan base. And then after something as devastating as Katrina, to have the team be part of the rebuilding process and have the success certainly, I think, helps the spirits of everyone involved. And I think that all of us now that have been here that aren't from here feel that and appreciate that and appreciate the true Saint fans that go back to the late '60s. It's pretty special for them. "

John Carney, when you first brought him in, was there an idea that no matter what played out you wanted him to be part of this in some part of way?

"Initially, I'll be honest, signing John because of the looming suspension with Garrett (Hartley), and then let's see how he does, and then we were able to, we had the luxury to carry two kickers for a while on the roster. You know, the whole time having a chance to monitor how they're doing, and then the timing of which we felt it was time to bring Garrett up. He had been doing a good job. And it wasn't until maybe mid‑season there when we were making that transition that we looked closely at continuing to keep John on the roster. We knew that that was a little bit of a luxury, and it came to a point where we needed a spot. And then the expected part of it, I think, became more of a thought or a plan. I don't think that was the initial plan, but yet we realized how valuable John has been just to a young player, let alone a young kicker. John has kind of got that calming, steady influence about him, and I think he's good for a lot of us, not just the kickers. So he had a decision to make, and I think John looked at it closely, and this might be something that ‑‑ he's in the coaches' room, locker rooms now, and all of a sudden he's got coach's gear on, so this might be something that he does a good job with."

Does he have the ability to kick in the NFL next year?

"I'm sure he could. Those guys are going to be able to kick in their 50s, and it's just a matter of how long he wants to kick more and where he sees his career going. He's had an amazing run of it, though, has had good health and has had a lot of things that he's worked hard for. I'm glad he's part of our group."

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