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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, October 28, 2015

On both sides of the football you guys have flipped the script, as far as the giveaway/takeaway margin; what have you seen on both sides of the ball to bring that stat back to even?

"The first thing is the noticeable spike defensively. There are a couple of things that lead to it, I think. When you're getting the hurries, the pressures and the sack production, that number offensively typically goes up, and I am talking about for opponents. The challenging thing in our league, offensively, is if you're struggling in early downs with your running game and with protections, the degree of difficulty the quarterback has in throwing the football (goes up). I think the other thing is that our players are doing a better job of getting in a position to punch a ball, strip a ball or take a ball away. That is hard to do, in relation to population to the football. (You) get there and it might happen 11 times and it is not until your 12th time that you chase one down and end up having some success. On the other side, offensively, and you guys are at practice, but the focal point in how teams are playing defensively, and this team is no different – this team (New York Giants) is sixth in the NFL in takeaways and they lead the NFL in forced fumbles. How teams are playing, with regards to keeping a ball-carrier up, populating to the ball and having one (player) grab and one pull, it has really changed a little bit, (with regards to) your mindset and when you're running with the ball in the open field, and then what you want to do when you're getting tackled by more than one player. It is just something that has been a big point of emphasis and I would say that after a few weeks, it became a bigger one with us. It is good news that it is trending that way and it is going to have to continue if we're going to continue to want to have success."

You placed a big emphasis on getting the right type of people in the locker room and even when you started slow, you guys kept saying that we have the right kind of people to turn it around. How much of a factor is that in being able to win three out of four?

"We hear a lot of different terms (such as) the culture, the makeup of a team and all of those different terms. It allows you and gives you a chance, when all of a sudden you hit a stretch, there is enough mental toughness, there is enough work ethic, commitment to each other (and) all of the things that allow you to win in team sports that really haven't changed over the years. It is the same in our league right now. I mentioned before, (after) the tough loss in Carolina and that picture that really captured the bench area on the incomplete pass, that inspires you as a coach as well. That gets you fired up. That is something that ultimately is paramount in having a chance to win."

Has Michael Hoomanawanui's versatility kind of opened things up for you guys? How has that helped you?

"I think most importantly with Michael, you know exactly what you're getting. He is a guy who has size and strength (in) his point of attack (and) his ability to block in the running game. In pass protection, if you watch the last game we just played, he's got six snaps where he is blocking defensive ends. His size and weight help give you some versatility in the multiple tight end looks. He is smart and he knows what to do in every play. He probably knows what everyone else is supposed to do. He is someone that, within the right type of route combination, can find the seam and has some pretty good awareness."

What are some of the things you like about those three tight end sets?

"Well, I mean Ben Watson has that versatility that we discussed when we acquired him. He can catch a lot of balls and obviously that's a lot more noticeable. He has done a lot of in-line blocking and (has) been successful at that. He too is a smart player, as well as Josh Hill. The three of them can be put in different places and all three are extremely smart. Josh is a little leaner build than the other two, in regards to his ability to get in space and run. He is a little bit lighter, but all three of them are good instinctive football players and obviously there are various skill sets there and experience involved as well."

Are some of those things new since you acquired Michael Hoomanawanui?

"There was a vision, if we could get Michael, and it's got to be alright, what do you see and what do we do if we can and alright, this is what we want to be able to do. That can get put into place a little bit once the trade was made. He has come in quickly and studied. Sometimes, when you're in these multiple tight ends sets, the looks you get defensively calm down a little, if that makes sense. I think it was just the latter in regards to the order."

Was Odell Beckham Jr. a guy you targeted last year in the draft?

"Absolutely, we were one of those teams in line just like everyone else. We were up for the workout. I went in the room and it was Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry in there. We've got this highlight tape that was put together, and it wasn't game tape, it was some practice tape and we sat in there for about 15 minutes. I just remember coming away from the meeting going holy cow. I would say it was one of the most impressive pro days, in regards to receiver workouts, because look, you had those two running around. Just a lot of skill on the field and you could see the explosiveness with him. (He's got) soft hands, big hands, and we were very familiar with him. Obviously, he is up the road at LSU and (he was) a guy that we didn't feel like would be on the board that long."

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