New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Friday, November 3, 2017
There's been a lot of talk around the NFL about how it's hard to find offensive linemen, but you guys have been deep, is there any common trait you look for when you're putting it together?
"We drafted one in the first round (Ryan Ramczyk). I think no different than anyone else, it is an important part of your team. Often times we feel like that position group can permeate your whole team. Fortunately, the depth that we've received certainly from the draft and the younger guys that weren't drafted has allowed us some flexibility with some injuries."
Is there a commitment with you guys in the offensive line in developing guys that may start?
"It has been. There are certain traits you look for in a developmental offensive linemen. Do they love the weight room? Are they smart? Are they smart enough to see the vision, two, three years down the road? I can go on and on with guys that have come in and have been important parts to what we do and some of them have been guys like Jonathan Goodwin, who was a kind of a backup player with the Jets, (who) we had a vision for. I couldn't even name them all but we have draft picks play and then guys that we've signed from other teams."
How about Max Unger*? When you guys traded for him, did you envision him being as much as sort of a rock for that unit?*
"It is an important position and it has worked out (for us). It is what we were looking for with the trade."
Michael Thomas is on a pretty impressive pace but he hasn't really had a huge statistical game. What are some of the ways he's impacted the defense even when he's not putting up big numbers?
"Primarily he's an X receiver so he's to the split end side. The easiest way to look at the defense is there's a corner over him, the free safety is in the middle of the field, with the corner by himself. There are a handful of things by coverage but I think he has real good run after the catch ability. He competes. All the things you look for with the size and the strength element in today's game."
You guys have had a lot of success with short passes a lot to running backs. How much of that may be his impact?
"I think there's some looks where because the coverage look is up, an easier way to do it would be maybe the one snap in New England where it was two by two and they were cheating the free towards Mike and (Brandon) Coleman became the beneficiary on the touchdown play. Sometimes it's the running backs. It would be hard to go through each running back reception and value it relative to Mike. Obviously, having enough targets within the framework of your offense helps."
Does he receive more attention than any receiver you guys have ever had? I know Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham played together.
"I think some teams are playing their base defense and sub defense. Certainly everyone in the man coverages of the world might match guys. We have a lot of good receivers. I think a lot of it is depending on the coverage. Defenses have changed too since then. But Marques was real good over there."
The way the defense has been played, has it allowed you to become more risk-averse on offense? Maybe not taking as many chances at times? Being safer with the football?
"I think the games dictate that. How a game's going, weather conditions? I'd like to think that in each we're flexible and are trying to play complementary game. We understand certainly that games can go in a certain direction. I'd say maybe in some cases the opposite if you feel like 'I am going to do this on fourth down", or otherwise I might punt. Does that make sense? So I think you're paying attention to your instincts, your gut as the game is unfolding and how a game is unfolding. That's what I'd say."
* Last night a couple of your players took to social media to comment on the circumstances regarding the declined award?*
"I haven't read any."
The question is, do you think that your players are being unfairly characterized or even politicized by some because of the protests?
"I know and understand the importance of the question and yet people that know our players and the fans. We have really good guys. It's one of the first things we look for when we're procuring talent is finding the right makeup. So I don't worry about the other stuff and social media. I like the guys we have and I think that they're guys that work hard, they're tough, resilient and that's why they're here."
I know this is a tough question because you've been with Drew (Brees) so long but when you see how he's playing at age 38, what, if anything, jumps out at you?
"The consistency. When you look at the amount of different players that have been through (here since 2006). How many receivers are on an active roster from 06-09? How many tight ends? How many running backs? That all requires certain disciplines and elements to timing and stamina, preparation. All those things stand out. The years kind of run together. I'm not speaking for him but it feels like seven years, doesn't feel like 12. I say this all the time, we don't see age in each other when we see each other every day. But then when we see each other's children, we're like 'wow', that's when we see age."
What are your thoughts about Tampa's tight ends and how effective they've been this year?
"My first thought is, one of them (Cameron Brate) was here on the practice squad and I just finished saying I hate that he got out of the building. I think they have experience. They have guys that are detailed in their routes. They have guys that are accomplished in blocking, a young draft pick (in O.J. Howard). I think that is one of the strengths of their offense. I think that Dirk (Koetter) and those guys have done a great job. When you start looking at the completions in the red area (and) third down. It's important to what they do."
You had a good chance to take a look at Delvin Breaux this week. How did he look to you and what's his evaluation?
"He looked good. Next Wednesday (we need to make a decision by). He received a lot of good work this week. So we'll see where he's at."
What's next Wednesday? Is that a decision-making deadline?
"There's a deadline. In other words, he has to be (activated), I think by 3pm."
But you don't anticipate him being active even for this game?
"I didn't say a word about this game. I know that's your job to ask but I didn't say a word about this game."
How important do you think field position will be in this game?
"It always is. If you play the game on their side of the field, any mistake made's magnified. If the game is being played on your side of the field it's magnified. It always is and it always will be. It is not unique to (this game specifically). Certainly it is sometimes with bad weather it becomes that much more. But just the common thinking that if you are playing the game on one end of the field and something happens, it is like double. (Field position is) Extremely important."
I know the trade deadline was earlier this week, do you feel like the market was more active than it has been in the past?
"It's hard to say. I read that but I'm not really (equipped to say). It's hard for me to measure that".
What's your evaluation on the offense on third down so far this year?
"It's been sporadic. Not as good as we'd like. It's an area I think we need to improve."
You said last week we were talking about (Marshon) Lattimore, how much do you let your mind wander back to draft day and how it all unfolded that allowed you to get him?
"We kind of go through periodically the scenarios. The early four or five picks all of them were significant. We felt like it was going to be important for our team. We're not even halfway through the season yet but encouraged by these guys and the way they've been able to acclimate themselves. They're smart. There are some traits that are important that I think we're receiving the benefits from. Him being what is it 11 (overall pick), we liked the player and we had a vision. Obviously the playing time experience because of his injuries was a concern probably a reason why he ended up at 11 and not earlier than that. Hopefully these guys continue to do well."
Do you have to hold anything back with a young corner like that? In other words, he is so talented you might be tempted to have him shadow the number one every week? But is he ready for that?
"I think it's more about the defensive fit that week and the matchups that week. Sometimes we'll look about his size. When you say shadow a one, it's more about body type and movement skill type. So a lot of it depends on what you're seeing from an opponent offensively and what you're trying to do."