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Q&A: Sean Payton's Thursday Conference Call

Audio and quotes from Sean Payton's Thursday conference call

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans
Thursday, October 13, 2016

This will be the ninth time you face Ron Rivera, how much do you try to change things because maybe Ron (Rivera) knows your tactics?

"I think to some degree that takes place, but I would think it's usually more, you take Sean McDermott for instance, who has done a great job and worked under the late Jim Johnson at the Philadelphia Eagles. There are a handful of nuances that take place, some on third down. Last night was a late night (of preparation for our staff). They do a lot of different things potentially on defense and on third down. You're trying to look at the pressure and say this time around it will be this guy. I think flip it around to the other side of the ball, Mike Shula's looking at Dennis Allen and what's been good on third down maybe and I think to some degree a little of that takes place with the scheme and how you want to play a game. Do you want to move the tempo up or slow it down? I think that's what you get with the consistency of the (coaching) staffs more than Sean (Payton) and Ron (Rivera), it's really the offense and the defense kind of looking at this time around, because you do feel like you've played at least two different times in a season, if not more because you get to this point and there are times where you say, was that two years ago or last year, was that three years ago because you still have a memory of these games in the last (few) years and there are certain plays that you recall and it's not uncommon to call them up in a meeting last night at midnight, pull up the 2013 (game) or pull up that 2014 (game) and you look at something and then you get back to your discussion and I think that would be very realistic."

What has been holding Stephone Anthony back?

"Just the consistency and I think he's going to receive more snaps as we progress through the season. I think the key though is just the awareness, he runs, he can hit, I think he's eager to please, so he is going to receive snaps and playing time, but I think the key for him is that consistency that we are looking for on an every down basis."

How much of a responsibility do you feel a coaching staff has to make a guy like Stephone Anthony fit?

"All the time, with any of these players you are constantly looking at how do we help this guy get going better? (Coby) Fleener was a good example at the start of the season. What does he do well and then let's ask him to do that and I think that's the process, but I think our thoughts and feelings on Stephone (Anthony) haven't changed. I still see this guy as someone that does a ton of things we like. I think for our defense as we go forward here you are going to see him in packages, you're going to see him on the field in the kicking game as well and that's an area that he ought to excel in as well."

How have you seen Willie Snead's ability to read defenses grow from last year to this year?

"I probably don't appreciate that as much because it just seems like when we first got him, that came natural to him, obviously there are elements to it though that are different and he does have a feel with routes, he understands coverages. I would describe him as very smart, a player that is savvy that understands what he is trying to do within the framework of a scheme and oftentimes you can ask a player, well draw up the rest of the pattern, not just what you have to do, you know what I mean and I think with a marker in his hand he would probably be one of the higher graded players on offense that would be able to do that. This is what (Brandin) Cooks is doing over here, this is what Michael's (Thomas) doing, this is what I'm doing, this is what the back does, you'd be surprised sometimes how players learn just what they do and you are always as a coach trying to teach the whole picture and then how it applies (to them). Clearly, he (Snead) is someone that knows all the roles."

Do you feel like you have turned a corner with Coby Fleener and found a really good fit with him?

"Yeah, I think we're seeing a lot of things that we were looking for and I think there is an element of him getting used to the specifics of what we do and an element of timing and yeah I think he's progressing, absolutely."

What have you seen from Kasim Edebali so far this season?

"He's doing well, he's playing in rotational snaps in the sub and he's playing in all the special teams. He had an outstanding game against San Diego in the kicking game, he was the special teams gameball winner. I think he's been real good."

What does Josh Hill add to your offense?

"He's an experienced, savvy tight end and is a guy that understands what we are doing and kind of gives you that ability to block and to get into routes, shoot he is a guy that will play in the special teams when he's healthy, he does a lot of things well."

Is Carolina's defense rare that you have to gameplan around two linebackers, not edge rushers?

"I think the game planreally starts with that front seven and I don't mean that obviously there is (Luke) Kuechly, Thomas Davis. There are a lot of things that give you concern and you have to look closely at that force unit first. (Kurt) Coleman is doing well at the safety spot. There are packages so you have to study them by packages, here's the base, here's nickel, here's their big nickel and what you want to do against those packages and clearly it starts with the Mike inside with Luke (Kuechly) and then Thomas Davis is another player at the linebacker level that you really have to prepare for."

Did (Dannell) Ellerbe suffer any kind of setback?

"(There has been) no setback and I am anxious to see what happens today. We're kind of pushing it and pushing it and he's been real diligent. Those guys were all here the whole time during the bye week rehab. We'll keep you posted."

Back to Carolina, their defense is ranked 12th in total yards right now; what does look different?

"Their numbers are really good still. It is interesting when you actually go through it. You're seeing a lot of the same challenges. The difference would be the players that are now playing corner, compared to a year ago or two years ago."

This is a coaching philosophy question as it relates to quarterbacks and limited their exposure to big hits; do you and Drew (Brees) often talk about ways to do that?

"I think the last two or three years as the league's kind of gone through the rules and talked about safety at that positon, below the knees (or) blows to the head, and then what's he doing outside of the pocket. I think for Drew (Brees), he escapes and is looking to throw, and periodically he steps up and runs and slides. It probably has not been the same discussion that you probably have with a quarterback like Russell Wilson or a quarterback that's going to climb and run a little bit more than others. I think there are some quarterbacks in this league that move and scramble and look to run. I think one of the things that Cam's (Newton) done well is you see him move for a big play still. In other words, he is still looking down the field because he has got that arm strength in any direction, to be running and hit a receiver deeper than most quarterbacks, if not all, can within their range in a funny body manner. He has rare talent that way. He certainly is a threat as a runner but what keeps you awake at night is what he does on third down and in the red area in the pocket. His arm strength and arm talent, all of those things, those are the things that really keep you concerned."

Remember last year when he somersaulted into the end zone for a touchdown? If that was your guy, would you ask him to dial that back or would you tell him to play to his strengths?

"You just want to make sure a player is playing safe. I don't think in that play specifically, he left his feet with the idea that he was going to do a flip. If you watch it, he is extending and trying to get over the goal line and gets hit low. He is one of the few people that makes it look like he was intending to do a flip, when the rest of us would've landed on our neck."

How did you think (James) Laurinaitis was playing before his injury?

"I thought up and down. I think the week prior against (Atlanta), he was nicked up and it showed on film. He had one of this better games against the Giants."

When you see all of the personnel changes at cornerback that Carolina has made to go younger, do you relate or understand it?

"In our business and in our league (there is always change). (For example) Wil Lutz is going to have his first game out, and there's always going to be 'how do you feel about your rookie kicker'. I think he's going to be fine. I think that kid's going to be a great kicker. I think the same with Ken Crawley. Part of what we are paid to do is develop these young players and play them if we feel they're our best option. I saw Josh Norman right from year one, year two and year three, just like Ron's (Rivera) seen some of our young corners. You see that and it is happening right before your eyes with Mike Thomas. It is happening around the league. I think the key is obviously the speed at which those guys get used to and get familiar with what they are doing. Whenever there is a player like Josh Norman that leaves, there is obviously that much more attention to the position. That very same thing is happening here with (Delvin) Breaux out. We've seen (De'Vante) Harris and we've seen (Ken) Crawley. We've seen P.J. (Williams), be it in year two but we've seen young corners now that are receiving a lot of playing time. That is not necessarily a bad thing. You hope each week they are improving. I think that is happening more than you think at other positons. Younger guys are playing quicker and our job is to get them up-to-speed and get them ready to play and perform, and them make the corrections and see improvement."

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