New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, November 6, 2017
What sticks out about the way the defense has played over the last six weeks?
"I think we've done a good job of contesting throws and I think that we've done a good job of disrupting the timing whether it been the quarterback or the routes. And yet, there's still a handful of things that we're working to improve on. But I think each one's been a little different too. Yesterday's game I thought we really played the run well and they became one-dimensional. I thought we really did a good job covering them."
At the midpoint of the season, do you feel like you have a good feel for the identity of this team and how it responded from that start?
"A lot better than the start of the season and yet I think they are still establishing who and what they're going to be. But yes, this is a group that likes to compete and I think we have gained confidence and some of these games have unfolded differently than maybe expected. But I think it is still a process we are finding out. I think there are things that are taking place right before our eyes and (there are things) we are working to correct and improve on. I think through that performance you are seeing guys come in and play with a little bit more of a swagger and a little bit more confidence and that is encouraging."
I know injuries are expected but (regarding) the offensive line, have you experienced anything like this with multiple guys playing the both tackle and both guard positions?
"Hopefully it can settle down some, but it's a little bit unusual. The guys have done a good job of adjusting."
On the offensive line, how much has it helped that Max (Unger) has been as reliable with the changes that have happened at the guard spot?
"It helps a lot with communication. I think him rehabbing and getting back, both he and Terron (Armstead) were on schedule (and), ahead of schedule. That was significant. But he is someone that is responsible for a lot of the communication up front and he's having a great year."
Yesterday you had two dropped punts, Ted Ginn and Drew Brees, when you look at the tape how much of that is them trying to do too much?
"I think that is a good question, but it is not (at the same time). We have to be able to, in the NFL, when we're faced with a situation where teams punting in, where normally it is (a situation of) a fair catch or a let it bounce decision, we have to be able to catch that ball 100% of the time and we will find someone that can. Because, it's not like those are rarely returned situations. Those are generally at that landmark of (where you) secure the catch here or let it fall here. We just need someone that is reliable enough to do that."
Do you think you have someone on the roster now that can?
"We'll see. If I had him and I knew he could, I would have put him out there. I feel like Snead and Ginn can do that. But we have to know it and we got away with one at Green Bay and now yesterday. Obviously we have to do a better job coaching it."
DeSean Jackson mentioned that he saw some different looks from the defense than they had on film. Was that part of the gameplan?
"Each week it is. You are always trying to mix things up and yet plan for the team you are playing. There are subtle changes. It might be third down, (or) who is covering who. It might be how many are going to rush. It happens week to week in our league."
Even though you aren't one to talk about personal accolades, yesterday you passed Vince Lombardi on the all-time wins list. What does that mean to you, when you pass a legendary guy like Vince Lombardi?
"Until you just said that, I did not realize it. I feel like it is early in my career. I have been with a lot of good teams and a lot of good players. I just feel like it's such a team game that it is hard to look at individual numbers like that. Yesterday they gave me a hard time. It was the 100th win for regular season and I got a ball from (Drew) Brees and then Mickey (Loomis) congratulated Pete Carmichael the same way and Pete said, 'well I'm already at 107' because he was here in '12. There are so many guys that are involved in winning a game and I think it's a privilege to be able to coach and work with guys, (and) work with young players too."
You also currently sit 41st all-time in combined wins, regular season and postseason?
"Well, I'm trying to get that lower."
How has (Alex) Okafor compared to the expectations from when you signed him?
"I think he has done a good job. He has been very steady. He is a pro's pro. He's smart. I think he comes to work every day. I think he's been a good leader for us too. I'm encouraged with how he's played."
I know you preach not to look ahead or big picture, you want the guys to focus on the week coming up. But how much do you think the trials and tribulations that a lot of your players have gone through the last few years have maybe helped them keep that focus as they've been winning this year?
"I don't know. I think there are a lot of new faces on this team and I think they look at it like it's their own identity. I don't think necessarily they draw to responsibilities or team mistakes three years ago. There are obviously a number of players that were here three years ago. But I think it's viewed more about this season. Certainly the guys that have been here understand how close these games can come down to (details), whether it's a two-minute drive, a goal line situation. I think there's that balance of understanding how quickly and how close things are in our league with other teams and week to week, and then appreciating that week in the preparation, in the moment of that game."