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Q&A: Sean Payton's Monday Conference Call

Audio and quotes from Sean Payton's Monday conference call with local media

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, November 7, 2016

What improvements have you seen in the football team between the first quarter of the season and the second quarter?
"We are rushing the football more efficiently. Our time of possession and ball security numbers those I think are better. I also think when you look at those snaps defended. When I talk about that offense and defense complementary game, I would be willing to bet a considerable number of snaps we have defensed in weeks 1-4, that number would be higher than 5-6-7-8. So that time of possession and all of the other things kind of fall in place there as well."

When you drafted Michael (Thomas) and Vonn (Bell) from Ohio State, you said that they came from a big time program. Do you think that that helped them adapt as quickly as they seemed to have adapted?
"I would say yes. There is that level of competition and expectation that not only the major college level but I think a winning environment, which they have. It has helped them I'm sure."

How important is Vonns' (Bell) relationship with Roman Harper and how has that helped him with his performance?
"I think that the real big plus is that Roman provides a steady eye. He is smart, and outside of even the football. Just the day-to-day caring for your teammates and there is some wisdom that he impacts young players with. Not just in his position group either but throughout the roster."

Can you explain how Marcus Allen came and talked to the team?
"That was just our thing. We will sometimes have a guest speaker. It worked out that he was in the area and we have done that before and he was outstanding."

What has made the running game better over the past couple of weeks?
"I don't know specifically. We have been in different types of games I would say then the first quarter of the season. When you fall behind it is a little bit more difficult to do. But we were ahead against Oakland and I think there has been a good balance. I think our players have fed off that too."

So you are saying that you have been more opportunistic than earlier in the season in terms of trying to work the run game in?
"I don't know if I am saying that. I think in the last four games we have probably called more running games (run plays). The Atlanta game is one where you are chasing and you are not having the same touches. I think the third down number, there is a handful of numbers that lead to more attempts and I think those have helped us. If you say opportunistic in regards to us being better and those number, I think there has been an improvement in the efficiency there and we have probably called more and the balance that we have played with."

Do you think that when a turnover happens during a game, do the guys think it is a feeding frenzy and they think they can go and get more?
"It is certainly something they believe, they understand and they know the significance of possession in a NFL game. When there is one turnover you do the math and that's why that statistic is so telling. That was good to see the takeaways yesterday and the (ball) security on the other side."

Would you rather play Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower every week and have an alternation of duties like on Sunday?
"We will do what we need to do each and every week. It was good to see Mark run (well) just (as) a week before Tim gave us a jolt. We will look at each game and plan accordingly."

Have you had a chance to review the defense's overall performance yesterday?
"Yes. Otherwise I'm trying to figure out why I would be on the phone with you guys right after we talked yesterday."

How did you come out of that? (Watching the defenses film)
"I think there is a period in that first quarter where we struggled with some big plays that were disappointing. Explosive plays that look too easy. I think overall our third down number(s) were good and our red zone efficiency was good in the second half. We had a couple series where they went three and out. I thought we affected the quarterback better than we did in the first half."

How important is it to get over the .500 hump?
"I don't think you point to specifically getting over .500. I think you look at you're playing Denver. Here is a team that just won the Super Bowl and here is what they do well and here are the things that we have to do well. Focus on the next game. I was asked this last week, it is hard to compare this team versus '07 or '08. I think we have to continue to work on the things we feel give us the best chances to win. We have to make sure we're making the corrections on things that we didn't do so well. We didn't cover kicks well yesterday. We're nicked up. We'll make some changes. We will have too. That becomes more challenging when your (Nate) Stupars' and your (Craig) Robertsons' are all starting on defense, there is an attrition there. It shows itself and reveals itself in one area. We need to look at the final roster spots and if they can help us in the kicking game. That is something we need to work on and look at."

When you look at the four teams you lost to. They all have some of the best records in the NFL right now. Do you look at that and take that into consideration?
"I don't look at the quality of wins or losses. It is in the rearview mirror really and we just need to learn from the mistakes and we are not really in a BCS format."

Is there anything you do to prepare your team with two games in five days?
"No, I don't think so. There is a schedule we will follow coming off the road game in California and we will adjust with a quick turnaround."

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