New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Talk us through the Adrian Peterson decision and why it didn't work out?
"One of the challenges obviously when you have the depth we have is having enough touches for all these guys. Both Mark (Ingram) and Alvin (Kamara) have been playing well. I think Adrian had a good training camp and yet in our league you have free agency and then you have the NFL draft unlike basketball, where it is the other way around. We drafted (Kamara) and ended up finding a good, young prospect who has played well. I think this was a win-win in regards to (the moves made). Adrian and I have talked a ton each week. We would spend time just up here in the office talking about our system, just different things, his role. Our relationship, I'd say, has been fantastic. It was an opportunity really where he was going to obviously get somewhere and be featured more and I am happy that that opportunity has come up and we were able to make the trade."
This is the second time you've referenced the NBA and the differences in free agency between that the NFL?
"It's a little bit uniquely different. I think it makes sense because you're always trying to draft value. To be able to do that and then finish the process possibly and sign. It's just flipped around."
Do you have any desire for that to change?
"Well I'm sure there's a lot more that goes into it than me just talking about it with you guys on a conference call. It's not been something that I've been looking to bring up, raise issue with or any of those things. I'm sure that it's fairly complex."
Had you known that you could draft Alvin Kamara, would you have signed Peterson at all?
"These are all hypotheticals. Had I known that I could draft Kamara and Kamara was going to be good as a runner and as a receiver. And had I known then, yes all of those things are a fantasy."
I'm sure you know the value of depth and insurance policies at the running back position, is this something where you almost did this for Adrian's benefit?
"This was done just using common sense. We had a chance to get a draft pick (back) next year. I know Arizona was short at this position. There's a confidence level we have with the way Mark and Alvin are playing. In my discussions yesterday with Steve Keim was like (where I told him) 'hey, this guy still has it. Here's what he does well and we have seen it, it's just a little crowded right now with the third back'. Obviously you want depth at that position and we still have that. So we kind of go from there. But Adrian has been fantastic through the process. Even in yesterday's meeting, he and I sat down and talked about it. We talked about good news, bad news. I said in a week you're going back to London and staying at the same hotel for a week, practicing on the same practice field."
Is there, I feel like it comes up a lot with backup quarterbacks, anything where it's hard to find a role for multiple running backs on a roster? Did it become hard at all to have a guy who is so used to a different role being in that sort of emergency role and not being on the field that much? Are there some guys that are better suited to be backup running backs?
"Well it wasn't hard. Obviously as you're putting gameplans (together), you're trying to gather your best plan. I think he's competing for opportunities to get first wave touches and 20 carries. I think the opportunity and the timing is perfect because I think he's certainly going to receive more of those at Arizona than he was receiving here."
You guys have lost to the Lions three years in a row, is there any insight as to why this team has been a thorn in your side?
"That's a good question. In those three games, 63 points, Saints, 87 Detroit. In those three games, we converted 35% on third-down. They converted 46%. In those three games we've rushed for 192, they've rushed for 294. In those three games, five turnovers, Saints (and) three for the Lions. QB hurries, New Orleans hurried their quarterback or hit or sacked their quarterback 27 times. Detroit hit, hurried or sacked Drew (Brees) 42 times. So I could go through (everything), but I just finished this three game study in regards to the numbers and pick a category, it hadn't been good."
In looking at the team this year, what might be different or the same?
"I'd say there are a lot of similarities. There's been stability in the coaching staff, so the schemes are the same. You see an active defensive front. The secondary is playing very well. Offensively you still have a handful of running backs that are challenging especially, not only as runners but also as receivers. I think that they've played well in some close games. They're coming off of a close, hard fought game. But there are a lot of similarities."
When you say running back depth is important so you still have that, could you just expand a little on how you see that beyond Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara?
"We have (Daniel) Lasco on the practice squad who we have a lot of confidence in and like a lot. Obviously some of these guys people aren't familiar with. If I told you Trey Edmunds is someone we have high opinions or high regards for, it would be hard for you to look at that. So when you're talking about (the) third (back), it's hard to go to a game with four halfbacks on your roster. It's hard to carry four. But we're carrying four and been carrying four because of the special teams (production) we are receiving out of Edmunds. We feel comfortable with the depth at that position."
With Alex Anzalone on Injured Reserve, how do you look at the linebacker position now?
"We felt like he had gotten off to a really good start. The other guys are going to step up. I'm not going to get into who's playing where and what personnel groupings (are), but I know his surgery went well. It's disappointing because he had really started well as a first-year player."
There's a report that you guys signed Gerald Hodges*, is that accurate?*
"I'm not (discussing any other moves at this time). I'll go through the roster updates at the end of practice on Friday. I'm certainly not going to comment on other reports."
Drew Brees was obviously out for the first three games, and then got hurt. When did he get hurt? Was it while he was away or was that lingering?
"It'd been something that was lingering. It ended up coincidently matching up almost with his suspension. It was a hamstring. He's recovered now. He was in that questionable mode in London and (we had to decide) whether we could play him or not. We went another week."
You placed Zach Strief on Injured Reserve last week. Is he a candidate to return to the roster at some point of this season? And how do you project the flexibility for John Greco?
"He is a candidate for that. Fortunately, now, we don't have to make that decision at the time we put a player on reserve/injured. And so we see how rehab is going and we can apply that tag when we see fit after a certain time period. Greco has flexibility. We see him as a guard, center. He's played inside but I think he gives us depth. He's played and started games in our league. His workout was good. We feel like we have pretty good flexibility with him."