New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
2017 Training Camp Presented By Verizon
Monday, August 7, 2017
"Short yardage was our installation today—third-and-one and fourth-and-one. We had some live work at that. There was a lot of good stuff to coach on. I thought the practice, overall, had a good pace. These guys will be off tomorrow, and then we will start back up our preparation for Cleveland when they get back."
Will you have a conversation with Cleveland Head Coach Hue Jackson about blitzing vs. not blitzing, considering Gregg Williams blitzes a lot?
"Usually, you might exchange some things you want to get done. At some point, I'll reach out. They key for us—I just talked about it earlier—is to do a good job with our evaluation. It might be a certain thing you want to see. Obviously, you want to see how your young players perform. You also want to see how some of the veterans perform, guys that are new to our team or guys that have been with us. I think the evaluation becomes challenging if the player struggles with what to do. Then, before the play's even snapped, he has little to no chance of any success. You want it to be crisp. You want guys to move and play fast downhill. We will have a chance to see that. With regards to Hue, I am sure that over the next 24 hours, I will give him a call and have a chance to visit prior to the game."
With the evaluation in mind, how do you plan on going about establishing repetitions for the first and second teams?
"We'll go through that tomorrow. We've typically operated in three phases. We've operated with the first phase—starters—somewhere in a one-quarter range, 15 snaps or so. We then get into the second phase, and generally, it takes us into the third quarter. Then, we finish with our third phase. There are a lot of exceptions to that, based on what our goals are for each player in this game."
Zach Line has not had a preseason rushing attempt since 2011. Will that change here?
"We'll see. We have to be smart and understand what the main goal of his preseason is. We really have not sat down to finalize how we want to handle this game."
Do you think there is any mental advantage over the defense when you have a Hall of Fame quarterback and running back together?
"I don't think that there is any mental advantage. I just think that you want more good players. If you are able to have really good players, I think it helps you. Certainly, with Drew Brees and his experience, there is a mental edge from his understanding of what we do. Adrian Peterson has picked up the system very quickly. You are looking for good football players, really."
Adrian indicated that it was less the physical and more the mental grasp of the offense that made him hope for preseason snaps. Do you think he is underestimating how well he has picked it up?
"These guys are all competitive. They all want to play. Those guys had live snaps today in short yardage; all of the runners did. We will be smart and put a plan together that we think really meets our goals for this game."
When the opportunity arose to hire Curtis Johnson, how high was he on your priority list amongst candidates? If you can recall, what was his reaction when you called and offered the job?
"It started when the season ended. It wasn't something that was on the radar. Johnny Morton coached receivers. So, when he got the coordinator job (for the New York Jets), it became (more critical). You begin to put your list together, and early in that process, it was apparent that there would be some interest by CJ in coming back. I've worked with him at San Diego State before here. In 2006, he was one of the first coaches I hired. The timing of it really worked out. There was some coincidence with Johnny getting promoted to a coordinator position with the Jets—I think that is a great opportunity for him—and CJ's availability. It just made sense."
When you called him, do you remember his reaction?
"No, I can't specifically. He and I have a really good friendship. I can't even recall the first call. I can recall the first time I called him in 2006. He's someone I know well. I think he is a really good football coach and good for our team."
When you get the team together for practice, how do you handle the emotions on the field?
"I like it. As the head coach, you want to see the momentum swing both ways. You want to see success offensively. You want to see success from your defense. I thought that we had good juice today. I think that as coaches, we are constantly trying to create competitive environments that challenge these guys, all of them. I think that is the quickest way to grow."
Have you seen any progression from Travin Dural*?*
"There's been some. He had a good play today. One of the things he does is run well. He has good size for a receiver. He will be one of the guys that we get a good look at this preseason. He has done some good things."
How does he fit in with this offense?
"He's in the process. With the receivers, you hope that there's a certain skill set that they bring. Are they good on the outside? Are they good with the inside patterns? How do they block? Do they pick it up? Can they play multiple positions, or are we leaving them at one position? I think he has really good size. I think he runs well for his size. I am sure that he'll have to add strength. There's a lot of work that he has to do on some of the specifics. Is there a way for him to fit into the kicking game? All of those will be questions that we'll have a chance to answer, not just with him but also with most of these guys. So far, there have been some good snaps that we've been able to evaluate."
Who is your best blocking wide receiver?
"I don't know. It's to be determined. We have had guys like Willie Snead, who's been really good. Brandon Coleman (is good). Those guys have had experience blocking. We will see. All of them, hopefully, can block. If you want to run the ball, you have to be able to handle the force."
What is Coleman's career trajectory on blocking? Is that something that was ever a weakness?"No. I think with his size (he has an advantage). It starts with willingness to block. When he got healthy (after being bothered by injuries as a college senior), I think it was something that he began to do, something that he feels confident doing. We put him in those positions."
To use your word "juice," how much more juice are you seeing from the defensive backs this year?
"It is hard to know. I thought today that it was good. We will see once we get into these preseason games. I thought the energy overall was good."
At this point, what are some reasons that the group could be better?
"There's a handful of those guys that have a year more experience. We had some younger guys playing, looking at P.J. Williams, Ken Crawley, Damian Swann, and Erik Harris. Those are all early year guys that are going to have a little bit more experience and confidence. Hopefully, we will see that growth. We have some experienced guys back there as well. Sterling Moore is a veteran player who has been in a lot of football games and understands what it takes. There is a pretty good combination there."
When you get into these preseason games, do you expect to see a continuation? Do you think players will surprise you?
"In every preseason game, there are some good surprises and some not-so-good surprises. That's why you play them. You do receive a better evaluation. There's someone else that is prepared and going full-speed in that competitive environment. There you are in a game. You learn a lot. It gives you an opportunity to measure growth and see where you are in the second and third weeks. You have a feel out here (at practice), yet there are things that'll happen in those games that may be surprising to you."
Is there anyone that is going to play a bigger role in that game that has already earned it?
"Hopefully, a lot of these young guys are going to play. We will go through the snap count tomorrow and lay out our plan for each phase."
How much can a great game or a solid preseason game performance build a secondary's confidence?
"Every day, we are out here practicing. Generally, the confidence you are looking for is from prior or past accomplishment. That can happen in practice. That can happen over two days. We have seen it happen a bit with Brandon Coleman. Generally, you build your confidence with snaps of success. That is the growth you hope to see, and certainly, that can take place in a game as well."
You said you are going over snap counts tomorrow. Is it possible that Drew Brees will play on Thursday, or will he sit?
"We will see. We will discuss that as well. We will discuss all of these guys."
Does Tommylee Lewis have special teams versatility? Could he be a gunner?
"Yes. I think that is going to be an important role for him."
What do you make of the pass rush lately?
"We will have a chance in the game to see it. I thought there were some good rush snaps today. Last night, I felt the same way. Once you get into the game, and you are truly getting to the quarterback and trying to sack him, one of the things ever team is mindful of is keeping your quarterback upright in the pocket. It is an area that we feel we have to improve in."
How much might some of the rookies who are out with injuries miss an opportunity with this game?
"We will see. If a rookie is out, he is out. If a veteran is out, he is out. We have to get them healthy so we can continue evaluating them. At some point, they have to be out there though."