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Quotes from Saints Coach Sean Payton's NFC Championship media availability - January 18, 2019

Saints head coach spoke to the media on Friday, Jan. 18

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Post-practice Media Availability - Friday, January 18, 2019

How do you assess the week?
"Look it was a good week. Obviously there's a there's always a sense of urgency when you're in the postseason. So there's that heightened awareness to the details. So you feel it relative to the prior normal schedule. You feel that with all the players, but a good, real good (week)."

Do you find yourself thinking about Mr. Benson at all this week?
"Occasionally we're telling a story not too long ago about him and so that probably comes up maybe more often than just a week before this game. Yes, periodically." 

How much interaction have you had with Mrs. Benson this week? Any different than usual for you?
"No, pretty normal. She received a playoff game ball last week. She's doing great. She's been tremendously supportive. The routine hasn't changed though."

What has made your team so successful in making second half adjustments, especially on defense in the second half of games?
"The subject yesterday was starting faster and obviously that's something that's important, just as important as coming out. Those adjustments, you're in the locker room really for eight minutes. So those adjustments are kind of ongoing during the first half. You got the video the tablets the pictures. And then there might be discussions which will be held until halftime, but it's real quick. You get in there, quickly meet as a staff and then the units and then you're with your players and then here we go you're out. It's not a long halftime, but I think that process begins during the first half."

Considering you are play-calling from field level, how much input do your assistants in the press box have?
"The first thing is their ability to quickly spot hash mark and down and distance. I think the input comes from above and below relative to seeing pictures. Those photos give a real indication of what you're seeing on the field and then sometimes you take a look at them and it's different. Where is the safety leaning? What kind of technique are they playing inside. There's a lot of information gained, but I would say offensively, those coaches that are all involved in the gameplan, our whole offensive staff will have responsibilities and we'll be in the middle of a drive and I'll say to Pete (Carmichael) to think about your red zone if we're here. Think about it, because it's going fast. We've done it so long together, it works. The same thing on defense. Dennis (Allen) is on that line. He's relying quickly on the personnel. That would be much like the spotter, (asking) what they are in, so we can get the defensive call (in)."

Do you ever communicate with Drew Brees after you guys break the huddle?
"No. Usually it's play, repeat the play maybe some alert. At 15 seconds it shuts off and I'd like to be finished with the play call at 19, obviously north of 15. But there's that element of we're not at the ball right away where there's 30 and we're talking. So that would be different maybe than the team we're playing." 

You talked yesterday of getting more of a buzz from a playoff game. What are the emotions you go through? Do you go to some extreme places?
"No, when the game is over, for me if you're asking, sometimes you have a headache, you're starving at some point because you're really ate at pregame meal at say 9:30, 10:00 and here it is, 5:30 or 6 .It's hard to sleep maybe you know, but that's part of it. There is that stress level that obviously you've turns your hair gray quicker than most."

2:05 is an odd kickoff. How do you alter your schedule for it?
"Nothing, we would take our Sunday itinerary for a normal let's say one o'clock and just picture everything. So picture everything going in our pregame meal at the stadium. So give me any kickoff time and just work those.So it's not a big change for us considering you're playing some other games on Thursday nights. I think it's a pretty easy change."

How important is that first half edge, considering the Rams are so good at second half adjustments?
"These quarters are all equally important. When you really look at possessions, they're their first in the league in time of possession, we're second in the league in time of possession. I think that's a key statistic. So that time of possession probably means you're efficient on first and second down. Their first and second down efficiency is outstanding. I don't know how many third downs they had last week but not a lot. There's a little CFL football involved in that. You're going to have third downs but if you're oftentimes in games where you do well you might have a smaller amount of third downs because your efficiency on first and second downs was so good. To your question though, I think these type of games will always have momentum swings. No different than last week, back and forth and you try to capitalize on it. And that's one of the benefits of playing at home.

Speaking of Canada, where is David Onyemata in his progression?
"He's doing well. He's strong. He's a fantastic teammate. It's a great story. I'm glad we have him. He's having a really good season. His first impression I think was that East-West game where he caught a lot of people's attention. He's done extremely well."  

With Sheldon Rankins' injury, what role do you see for him?
"He's playing a lot. I say this in the production meetings, sometimes when you list starters, you could introduce David, Sheldon (Rankins) and Tyeler (Davison). Those guys are all playing a lot. Of course he'll play a lot." 

What went into the decision last week to not introduce starters?
"I just think in the postseason it's easier to introduce the team. We've done that in the past." 

Is David Onyemata different in other places than how he seems quiet in the locker room?
"He is quiet and but look on the field there's a way about him and there's a presence, there's a physicality in him. Look he's not going to have to be Superman in this game. He's going to have to continue just to play like he's been playing and always there'll be rotation relative to what we're playing down and distance. But he's got a he's got a good demeanor."

Knowing your players up front have to block Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, how does that affect your play calling?
"Well it impacts the week relative to preparation. What you're doing, what you're doing with protection. He's (Donald) a fantastic player, extremely disruptive, Suh next to him. Those are two disruptive players inside. Like any game plan you begin to look at how do we slow down or help ourselves with where he's (Donald) aligned. He plays the three technique , Suh's playing the nose, he's playing outside at times and so you go through those looks you discuss it on your third down play and you discuss it in your base and your red zone and when you when you have a great player or great players like those two guys are you've got to look closely at what you want to do and then make sure it fits."

How close were you guys to getting Suh here?
"He had a great visit. He came in, we spent a lot of time with a long breakfast, he and I did and we had played him that year over in London. He was great to visit with and you're working hard, you're recruiting and there were a handful of teams, not just the Rams and us, there were a handful of teams and he narrowed his visits down to here and then L.A. was the last visit. And I think just reading his quotes yesterday you know he felt that fit relative to where he wanted to be and that's part of free agency. But we were calling, recruiting, doing all the things that go into selling your program." 

You say you watch a lot of Rams stuff through the week and Sean McVay says he checks out a lot of Saints stuff, is there anything you appreciate about what they do, especially on offense?
"On a weekly basis we study certain offenses and Sean's (staff), they do a lot of creative things. You're always interested. We're constantly looking at ideas. Some things may or may not fit what you do, but I just think if you're not studying the game on a weekly basis then you're missing opportunities that can help your offense or defense. So of course most of the week is spent on opponent tape but we have several people cutting up, you name it. And then those wouldn't necessarily be the opponent. But what took place that weekend."

Back to Onyemata, he learned the game in Canada and you played in Ottawa in the CFL, is there anything to that?
"I don't know that he learned the CFL game, but he learned the college level game. And when you're playing defensive tackle even at the East-West, I think he was the player of the game at the East-West Shrine, that opened some eyes and yet when he arrived there was so much to (learn). Say was 11,576 snaps behind everyone else, give or take, high school, college. He walked into the (Manitoba) football office. Now, there is good news with that. You saw a player who is very talented, who wants to work and develop and so to his credit he's worked extremely hard to get where he's at now."

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