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Q&A: Sean Payton's Thursday Conference Call

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

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, October 20, 2016

What sticks out about the way your offensive line has played so far?

"I think they've played well. I think we have been in different type games, regarding run or pass. I think that we're protecting the passer as well as we have in quite a while and I think we've done a good job when asked to run the football and I think a lot of (that) each week just marries to the matchup and then also the type of game we're playing, but we've had to shuffle a few guys in and out of lineup. Last week Tony (Hills) was working at left tackle, Andrus (Peat) obviously at left guard (early in the season), Terron (Armstead) at left tackle. I think we've handled those adjustments fairly well and you continue to work on certain things you want to be more efficient at."

Why have they been able to exceed public expectations from the preseason?

"I don't know what public expectations were, it sounds like those were expectations maybe (were premature and unrealistic). It's hard to come off the preseason with the handful of different scenarios, with a handful of guys hurt. I understand it, but look I think it comes clearly from one area. One area of need was a guard and possibly in the draft and we didn't draft one and that happens. Fortunately, for us Senio Kelemete was available and we brought him back and he's played well. It's a real good room and I like the way they approach each week and we'll continue to try and improve and get better."

How has the team found success the last three games scoring on opening drives?

"I do think it's unique to other drives because you can script and that doesn't mean you stay right on the script, but it allows you to give some thought to what you may want to do personnelwise, play wise and to where you can even walk thru or receive reps at those first dozen plays. The night before the game there's a little comfort if you will, knowing maybe what to expect early on, like you have the initial answers to the first 10 questions of a test. I've done this long enough and we've done this long enough to where you've seen a perfect first 10 or 15 scripts and you're three and out, but I think it probably goes back to a simpler explanation of execution, timing. I think Pete Carmichael has been outstanding in putting together thoughts and looks and takes input from the staff and yet I think the execution ultimately is what you need."

You guys are ranked 30th in kick return average; how do you start getting more out of that group?

"The first thing would be that if the ball is hitting in the end zone, you probably want to keep it in the end zone. It's going to come out to the 25 (-yard line). I would be leery of the 30th, 28th, 25th and 10th (rankings) right now five games in. I say that all of the time to our players. Look really at a bigger picture here. We had a punt return last week and we went from one of those numbers that ended with a "th" or a "st" such as 21st to all of a sudden, a single digit. But it is something that needs to improve. The very simple way of looking at the first portion of the season – there have been a couple where if we are in to the end zone and take it at the 25. The most disturbing one for me is the Oakland one still after the penalty. You don't realize how significant that was. A 15-yard penalty and then a deep kick that we field sloppily, don't block it correctly and we get the ball on the 23. When really it's an opportunity to have the ball at the 35 with an average return. I do want to see that area improved and I think it can improve. Fortunately, we are going to have at least 11 more opportunities to improve it."

How much have you considered putting Tommylee (Lewis) back there on kickoffs, being he has looked so good on the punts?

"We've had a few different guys – Willie Snead, who may or may not be up this week. I don't know if it's a result of Travaris Cadet but sometimes you receive juice from a different player, and all of a sudden, it's a different type of return. We've looked at all of the candidates each week. Some of it's with the active and inactive. Tommylee (Lewis) has done a good job, particularly in the punt (return game)."

What kind of impact have you seen from Aaron Glenn?

"He's smart, he's knowledgeable, he's a great communicator and I'd say he's demanding. He has all of those traits that you are looking for in a coach. He is very respected and I would say that he is extremely competitive. He's been a real good addition to our staff."

Who is your backup center?

"Senio Kelemete and Senio (Kelemete) both can play center."

You seem to be getting Daniel Lasco involved in the offense these last couple of games; what has he given you and where is his progression going in your opinion?

"I think it is outstanding. We probably haven't been giving him enough touches, partly because of the last couple of games and how we have played. We really like the prospect and I would say that he has really done a good job at practice. Hopefully, here in the next quarter of the season we're going to see him receive those opportunities because, not only does he help us in the kicking game, but I think he's really progressed as a running back."

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