New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
With the way the whole league has leaned towards offense in recent years, how is it that Seattle has created and maintained such an impressive group in defending the pass?
"I think the first thing when you watch the tape there are two things (that stand out). They're very talented and I would say they have outstanding technique. They're playing a little man to man but you see a lot of zone coverage. It forces you to come underneath with throws. That combination of coverage and then what they're able to do with their rush plans make it extremely challenging."
How surprising is it that the Seahawks have struggled in running the football?
"They're dealing with a rash of injuries like we are, on that side of the ball specifically. They've had a lot of different offensive linemen in the game. All of that along with the quarterback getting nicked up. All of those things can lead to maybe the numbers you aren't looking for at the start of the year."
When you have a defense like theirs, what is it specifically about that defense that stands out to you where it seems like it's all 11 guys flying to the ball?
"I think a mentality begins to develop. We've seen this happen before on one side of the ball or the other. There's an expectation of how they play. I think there's a great scheme in place. There's talent. You kind of all of a sudden get this recipe with the leadership that they have. Occasionally there's a new face that shows up maybe at linebacker or the corner position and yet there's that expectation of success and that expectation of playing with numbers to the ball. I think that's a large part due to the players and coaches that have developed that and cultivated that."
Can you take us back to the trade between the Seahawks and Saints with Jimmy Graham and Max Unger and the draft picks involved?
"It seems like a while ago. Max is doing well. He's made the transition and helped us. I think it was really about acquiring numbers and the opportunity for us to select two defensive players with Steph (Anthony) and Hau('oli) Kikaha, but all in all there were a handful of things that went into it, but mainly trying to improve our offensive line and also our defense."
Do you still maintain a close personal relationship with Jimmy?
"It's hard to just from a distance standpoint. Our schedules don't allow you to touch base. I would say, probably a couple text messages in the last year and a half. I think the world of him and always follow how he's doing."
How do you think he's been doing this year?
"I think he's been more involved. You're seeing him healthy, moving around. He's high-pointing some balls. He's coming off the injury. Coming off the injury I think he's transitioned back in."
What have you seen from Nate Stupar?
"The evaluation a year ago came off the kicking game and some defense. He's playing more snaps for us defensively and I think playing pretty well. I think he moves well. I think he's athletic and I think he has a pretty good beat on what we do defensively. I thought he played pretty well the other day."
When you face a defense like Seattle's that's been consistently good like they have, does it give you a little extra juice and do you get a little excited to see how you can combat that offensively?
"I think more than anything as a team and the challenge they present. Each week, we try to present those during the course of the week of our players. We talk about playing a good opponent. We talk about the keys to playing a game like this. As coaches and players we get excited each week with the opportunity to compete and put our best foot forward, especially coming off a loss like we did at Kansas City."
How has Hau'oli Kikaha's progress been in rehabilitation since we haven't seen him around much?
"He's doing outstanding."
Going back to Stupar, he showed some hops in knocking down a pass intended for Travis Kelce on Sunday. Were you surprised he was able to jump up that high?
"He's pretty athletic. I don't know that any of us were surprised. We've seen him do some things athletically in practice. I think it was good anticipation by him and it was a good play."
Do you look forward to seeing Hau'oli Kikaha back out there next year?
"His energy and how he plays. I think there's no question you miss a player like that. He came on his rookie year and we thought did a lot of good things. I don't know that you replace him right away, yet we look forward to him coming back into the lineup and being a part of what we're doing defensively."