New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
With a team like the Lions that have not had so many games decided until the fourth quarter, how do you apply your preparation to that characteristic?
"Specific to the preparation it would be the information. This morning I call you guys after what would be our first team meeting. We go through keys of what we think would be to win the game and then we outline the opponent. I think it's important the players understand that this is a good team that has been in a lot of close games much like we have and they're one of two teams in the history of the league that have come from behind in seven games and won and the last team being that Colts in '09 that Jim (Caldwell) coached as well there. There's a little bit of confidence that comes with that. You get the first one and the second one and you see that they're close in a game that they are able to get it and they've been able to do it. You make your own team aware of the type of team you're playing and then you prepare accordingly."
Does familiarity with the Lions in having played them the last couple years help in preparation or is the team totally different offensively with Calvin Johnson no longer playing?
"Any time you're defending a great player like him, there's a challenge unto itself. I think more specific to this team that we're seeing, they've found that formula. They appear to have the right blend of veteran and young players, they play with energy. They have some injuries on defense and they have been able to overcome them, so I think it's really more specific to this team. (Golden) Tate's an experienced receiver. (Anquan) Boldin can help them situationally and has done a good job and they spread you out and we're going to have to play well in space."
In regards to the comebacks they've been able to make is there anything specific to Matthew Stafford's play?
"You evaluate a quarterback often when you want to see how he plays when he's behind. He's had an outstanding season. His numbers are fantastic. I think he's playing as well as he has in his career. He's been able to win. He's found different ways to win. Everyone's involved. There's a lot of different touches, not to one specific player. You see the tight ends involved. You see him getting it to his running backs. I think he's playing awfully well. The other thing that's concerning is when he gets outside of the pocket, because a lot of his big plays come then."
If the game on Sunday's a reminder of the offense's potency. Besides Drew Brees, what would you credit for the consistency of that offense since 2006?
"There's a lot of people, a lot of players. There's certain disciplines we believe firmly in. We've been able to find the right type of guys throughout that time frame that come and they understand the role and they understand the system. There's been some continuity from a system standpoint, a quarterback standpoint. There's been a handful of offensive linemen that have been here now, when you look at Jahri (Evans) and you look at Zach (Strief playing here for such a long time). It's the same way on the coaching staff. Pete Carmichael has been here that whole length of time. We've had some guys like Johnny Morton and Joe Lombardi's return. I think it's been a combination of a lot of people, of a lot of things."
It seems like you guys were really aggressive against Los Angeles on Sunday on both sides of the ball. You talk about playing complementary football a lot, but is that approach a sign that you have higher confidence on both sides of the ball right now?
"I think to that game it was different. Early on, we struggled a little bit defensively and settled down some and settled in in the second half. Offensively after a series or so, we started having more consistency, so I think the game, you might want to see it unfold a certain way, but it can take on a direction of its own and I think we try to pay attention to that."
With some of the moving parts you have had on the offensive line this year, how valuable has Senio Kelemete been?
"He's been extremely (valuable). Over time here, last year he finished the season playing left tackle. He's played guard here, he's played center. He's extremely smart and he's very reliable and I think that he's a fantastic teammate. He has the respect of his peers and I think he's athletic. So, he can do some things that are unique to his skill set. His natural position would be guard or center, but he's been able to go out in a pinch and play tackle. There's a lot to be said for a player that has that versatility."
We're talking to Glover Quin later on a conference call. What do you think of him, despite the fact that he doesn't have big numbers this year, he's made a lot of game-changing plays for the Lions, including against this team two years ago. What do you think of him?
"He's exceptionally smart I think. There's something about a guy that knows where you're going to be, what you're doing. You can see it on film. He has great football makeup. He has vision. He understands formations and what they're doing coveragewise. I think all-around when you're watching their defense there are a number of guys that stand out. He's clearly one of them and I think a real good football player. (He has) good ball skills, smart, tough. He's got all the things that you look for at that position."
How concerned are you about Brandin Cooks maybe showing some frustration with the direction of the offense?
"I'm not concerned. We've spent a lot of time. Cooks is a real good football player and we work extremely hard on these gameplans. It's a little unusual we have a game where he's not targeted. The first play of the game is supposed to be his play. We don't get the right coverage look. We'll keep working it and finding those opportunities for him to receive those touches. He's a fantastic player and a great man and we have a great relationship. It's hard when you do have a game with a lot of numbers like that and a guy like Brandin who works his tail off doesn't have a target or a touch. That can happen. But I would say that's rare. He's been explosive this season. He's certainly a primary target for us in what we do and I think that's evident."
Can that almost make it more difficult for other teams to prepare for you and allow you to have more balance, showing you can be productive even when it occurs on a day where he didn't have a lot of opportunities or big numbers?
"Earlier we were talking about success. We've had a lot of real good football players here and I don't think we've been in a position where they're doubling such and such and it's panic. Guys are going to get doubled. I don't know specifically. It's not as much getting doubled as you see a better corner travel. Last year we saw (Darius) Slay, he traveled with Cooks. Sometimes Cooks is going to draw some of those matchups. Sometimes he isn't. It depends on the team. But I think it was more the way the game unfolded. Like I said, the first play of the game was actually a down the field shot play intended for Brandin. We received man to man coverage different from what we were hoping to receive. Things happen during a game, a progression takes you off a read high and you end up underneath. It happens. I wouldn't have known Josh Hill was going to have that many catches in that game, but that's the way it unfolded. Fortunately we had enough of them."