New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
When you look at the way Terron (Armstead), Larry (Warford) and Max (Unger) have all come back from injury a bit ahead of schedule, how important is that for you guys this season?
"That's significant. One of the things you're always hopeful of in the season when you have players that miss time is that it's not for long periods of time. Two of the cases you referenced were offseason references. Beau (Lowery), Scottie (Patton) and those guys (medical staff) have done a great job of getting those guys back with confidence and ready to play. It's very huge."
What have you seen out of Terron since he came back?
"He's moving well. He's athletic. Here's a guy that's outstanding in his pass pro(tection). He's savvy. He's a competitor. He's one of the leaders. There's a confidence about him that you see even on an extended play like (Drew) Brees had the other day. You see his movement but you also see his athleticism and his strength."
Many guys on this team weren't on the roster during a stretch run where the team is in first place in their division. Are you having to find yourself to say something to them about keeping grounded or are they handling it well on their own?
"Everyday. We talk about realities of today each week and the understanding of we're just past the midway point of the season and yet the experts will be talking playoffs, Super Bowl. It's the craziest stuff ever and tune it out and laugh at it, understand what it is but there's so much more we have to do and accomplish and we just have to look at it like we have been with the win-the-day approach. Practice well, (concentrate on) preparation and get ready for this game. The other stuff can be toxic."
How would you describe the role of the passing game and the team's recent success even though the number are a little balanced between run and pass, the efficiency is really high?
"The total numbers are never important. It is more of what we are doing each week. Obviously in today's NFL you have to be able to convert third downs. You have to be able to attack certain defenses and we feel confident that that's something that each week we'll put the time in and be able to do. (With) Willie Snead coming back and we're working his way back into what we're doing I think that's a big plus for us as well."
Do you see Drew having a chance with his completion percentage to surpass his personal best in completion percentages, he looks as accurate as ever, can you talk about that aspect?
"We keep track of how we're converting third downs and us being efficient and those other things are byproducts, but I think that having that efficiency and attention to detail with what we do is important. We know some weeks we might throw it more than others. But I think that's something that comes with a lot of work, a lot of post-practice work with receivers, tight ends and running backs. Each with for us as a staff we feel like we have to look closely at providing the best opportunity with the framework for the game scheme wise."
With Jonathan Williams what was it about him that you liked and how much of a role did Joel Thomas have in this in selling him?
"Well, all of the above. We remember very clearly when he came out of Arkansas two running backs came out that year (Williams and Alex Collins). We kept track of him and coincidentally Joel had coached him when he was the running backs coach at Arkansas. So late Monday night there was pressure on Joel, because he (Williams) had two contracts offered to him that was just coincidence. He had Atlanta and New Orleans both recruiting him hard. Joel was talking to him and myself, the agent, Mickey (Loomis), people get involved in that and fortunately we were able to sign him. He is excited about becoming a Saint. He has the makeup, the fit, all the intangibles I think are important. Today will be his first practice."
How big of a role do you project for him on special teams?
"We'll see. We just have to get familiar with the player in regards to all the specifics, but there's some versatility in what he does and that's encouraging."
Do you guys feel like you're getting to where you want to be in terms of efficiency in third downs on offense?
"It's a week to week thing. We've improved it, but again we'll play a good third down defense here this weekend. The numbers have gone up and that's encouraging, but again it's something that doesn't just stay static. You're getting better there or you're not, so hopefully we'll continue to make it a point of emphasis."
Back to the eat the cheese, don't eat the cheese stuff in terms of keeping the team humble, how glad are you to have this discussions and reminders after the way the last few seasons played out?
"It is better than the alternative. It is a young team. There is a lot of energy. There are certain things that we still have to improve on. There are a lot of things. The amount of requests. The amount of not opportunities, that's not a good word, but it can be over the top, different than three years ago. (We are) Just trying to make sure they understand, here's our weekly schedule and understand that this is the formula and be respectful and make ourselves available, but not at the expense of the process."
Requests like media requests?
"You name it, absolutely. I have a list on my desk here that would choke you."
Can you estimate how many requests you have?
"No, just more than I'm comfortable with and more that what we're going to fill. But that's different than three years ago. There's not enough time in the day to make everyone happy that way, so somebody is going to be unhappy and that's just how it is. There are just way too many."
With Mike Thomas, how important is his ability to win those 50/50 balls as often as he does?
"I would say it's a great strength of his. It's important but it's one of the things that he does best. He high points ball. So when you watch him catch a ball you would say he has strong hands in traffic, I think that's the best way to describe it."
When you saw the tape on Washington, what pops out the most with Kirk Cousins at quarterback?
"They get the ball down the field. I think they're third in throwing the ball, passing attempts plus 20 yards. They stretch the field vertically. I also see someone that epitomizes a competitor. You see someone where there is a feistiness about him, a toughness about him. I think it's contagious with his teammates. We've seen, it just so happens we've been watching a lot of Washington offense with a lot of the crossover games. They get the ball down the field."