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Q&A: Sean Payton's Wednesday Conference Call

Audio and quotes from Sean Payton's Wednesday conference call

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with Local Media
Wednesday, September 21, 2015

What are some of the attributes you need to have a franchise quarterback and maintain your team's performance on a consistent basis, like what you have had with Drew Brees and the Colts had with Peyton Manning and now have with Andrew Luck?

"I think one of the things is (that) you have an accurate player that's demonstrated it at the college level. They come in all shapes and sizes, they would say, but (you are looking for) competitive, tough, ball location, smart, good instincts, I would say better than average feet and that can vary some but someone who can move, those would be a few of the ones that would come to mind."

How fortunate do you feel that you have had Drew for so long when other teams have been shuffling it around all the time?

"There is not a day that goes by that you take that for granted or don't realize some of the things you're able to do is because of his skillset. All of what you see on the field would be things that you would appreciate and value very highly, and yet there are so many things off the field in regards to how he's driven, how he's motivated, how he prepares, how he leads, that are just as important."

What went into the decision to move away from Zach Hocker and sign Kai Forbath?

"We brought in Kai a few weeks back with a group of kickers and he was a guy who, statistically speaking, we'll take these guys and we'll work them out and we'll go back in and go through the numbers, and statistically he has been outstanding in regards to his percentages, even going back to his days at UCLA. I think, in Zach's case, here is a young kicker who we felt did a very good job. We opened the season at Arizona and he hit's four (kicks), but there was something missing in the last few weeks, and that's studying not just his made or missed kicks but it's also studying his PATs. One of the things that I mentioned to those four kickers here on that workout day, and the same to him (Hocker), the last 10 seasons there have been 20 Pro Bowl kickers, two a year, and 13 of those kickers are (now) on a second or multiple roster. In other words, they are not on the initial roster that they would be on when they first signed (with a team). We kind of went through this process before and arrived at Garrett Hartley, and fortunately at the right time. There was a little bit of a risk in not knowing what we had, but he worked out well and all of sudden he is having a year like he had in 2009, both in the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl. A handful of things went into it and we went ahead and made the decision."

Last week you talked about wanting to get the ball in the hands of C.J. Spiller's hands more. It didn't happen last week and what are your thoughts on it and was it just a function of the game?

"You asked about it the other day. I think my response the other day was that there were a handful of touches that are clearly designed for him. Based on how the game was unfolding, that can happen. He's one of our weapons that we need to look closely at finding touches. If you look at the running game and the passing game, he's a guy that can make a lot of things happen with the ball in his hands. We have to do a better job that way."

Has C.J. expressed frustration?

"No. It's just what it is. You asked the question. I answered it. C.J. has been fantastic."

How did you think Andrew Luck looked against the Patriots and can you talk about the Colts overall a little?

"I'm going to spend more time talking about the Saints and Colts than any other team. Number one, the last ten years history would tell us that there have been a long line of teams that have struggled with New England. I don't have the amount of or their most recent number of division titles, but I know that it's one of the reasons they have been in six Super Bowls and won four. Really, when you look at the game last week and look at it on coaches tape, you're going through the tape and constantly the scoreboard flashes and basically it's a one touchdown game. Obviously it moves to that 13 (point lead). New England plays very good defense. They're going to contest a lot of throws. They are going to be troublesome in regards to your protections as well and so I think that a fairer analysis would be all the teams that have played New England and absolutely they have another good football team. I would say looking at Indianapolis, Luck was hurt earlier and missed some games. They were able to play (without him) and have some success. They are 3-3 right now. Their record following a loss is crazy good. They're a physical team on defense. They have opportunistic safeties that have real good ball skills. (Vontae) Davis is one of the better corners in the league. They get after the passer very well. Offensively, you are going to see a receiving corps that's explosive. Currently they are right at the top of the league in explosive passing plays down the field. You can go through (Donte) Moncrief, you can go through (Phillip) Dorsett the new young player, T.Y. Hilton, the veteran player in Andre Johnson (and) the tight ends as well. It's a team that is built and is able to get the ball down the field and mix in their running game. I would say you are going to see more gap schemes from them in regards to how they run. Their game against New England was a hard-fought game and although they lost it, I think really for three quarters of the game that goes back and forth."

Do you think Luck was sharp coming back from that shoulder injury?

"I think he's playing better. I mean it's hard for me to look and project as to how he is feeling because, look you come back because of an injury and the good news is you're in the lineup and the bad news is you're facing the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. You're going to be challenged and I think I believe him when he says look my arm feels good and so when I am watching the tape and looking at it. I don't see someone who is laboring, but I see someone who, obviously at times is going to be challenged by a team like New England just as we would be."

You said Friday you had some ideas you wanted to take a look at some things thus far in the season. What came up?

"I would say this there is a handful of things we talked about in the team meeting. I would say we have to be able to run the ball better and our run defense has to be better or it's going to be an up and down ride. There are some numbers over six weeks and some of them go back past six weeks. We've given up (at least) 100 yards rushing in 15 of our last 16 games and offensively we have to be better at rushing the football and last week's game against Atlanta the turnovers and the block punt kind of overshadowed that one number. They had some explosive runs, obviously their yards per carry were up. We were better in the second half, but I think it's an area that both sides of the ball need to improve there or (it will be tougher in) the games where we don't have three takeaways and a blocked punt for a touchdown."

Why do you think the run game has struggled in their numbers and did you see that possibility in the preseason?

"No I thought that in the preseason and training camp, it's always hard to measure, but here is the good news we are through six games. Just finished the first third of the season. I think it's something we can improve on. I know it's something we have to. Look it's not one specific player it's not just injuries it's myself it's certain games that you get into and maybe you can't afford to run it as much. There is a combination of things. One of the statistics that is always interesting in their wins the team rushes for this amount. Well every one of us knows how games can finish and how rushing numbers go up when you're playing with a lead and so I think there is a hand full of things and it's the same thing defensively."

What are some of the things that you think make Willie Snead a good route runner?

"Physically, I would say that he is very good in transition. He has good feet and his strong lower body allows him to sink his hips and get out of a cut quick. I would say above the shoulders he is very smart and has very good football instincts. Rarely does he do something on the field that surprises you."

Is he a guy who can sit into a zone rather than a guy who would just run into coverage?

"I would describe him as that, yes. We are not interested in the guys who are going to run into coverage. He would have some of those traits that we have seen from Lance Moore or we've seen from guys who just have a knack for finding the space."

Can you give us an update on Joe Vitt?

"Joe Vitt is on the injury report. He'd probably be listed as doubtful. He tore his Achilles and broke his wrist so he's on a little scooter. You guys will see him out there."

How do you react to that? Is it concern, pride over him defending his turf?

"I think a little bit of all of it. Obviously, he's someone I'm close to. I spoke to him Sunday. It happened late Friday or Saturday morning. (That is) typical Joe Vitt (in that) he was wanting to get back to work. He hates when he has to rely on someone driving him to work or carrying something for him. He uses those people to open email or stuff that he is unable to do when he is healthy."

When you watch and see a play like the Colts fake punt attempt, what do you do when you see something like that?

"It's very simple. For years, we've seen oddball formations all the time with PATs, field goals or kickoffs. The challenge defensively when it comes to any of these alignments is that when formations get detached, then there has to be some ability to count the numbers and detach with them and be sound. When you get the swinging gate or the field goal units that shift, they're constantly looking for a number count that would be in their advantage. Just watching, I am sure that there was a communication issue. When those things work, we love them. When they don't, it's like what were you thinking? They've been very fortunate when you look at their kickoff numbers. They've had a lot of success with onside kicks. They have stressed teams, special teams-wise. It's a play that obviously didn't work out the way that they wanted."

Brandon Coleman was supposed to have a significant role in the offense and has struggled. Can you discuss it?

"I think part of it is that we get into some of these games and we are not in some of the three-wide sets. He's a player, much like (C.J.) Spiller, but in a different way, where I am expecting his numbers to go up in the next two-thirds of the season. We (as a coaching staff), myself and all of us, have to find a way to give him those opportunities."

Photos of Sean Payton vs the Atlanta Falcons. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)

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