New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Monday, December 10, 2018
Is this as good a groove you’ve seen from this defense with five straight games with 17 or less points? I think the first time that's happened that's 2006.
“Certainly it has been important here down the stretch. You are hopefully improving each week, you are hopefully making the corrections and I think that they are playing with confidence. By no means is it perfect to put the tape on. There are a lot of things you want to clean up and correct, but I felt like especially in the game yesterday they did a great job in the second half. The first half wasn't as good on third down defense, but the second half was and helped allow us to get back in the game.”
Can walk us through why you made those changes in the return game with Alvin (Kamara) and Tommylee (Lewis) and how did you think Tommylee did yesterday?
“Tommy did well. We moved Taysom (Hill) up into a blocking role, moved (Alvin) Kamara back to the kick return, and wanted to give a look at that. By and large it went well.”
Mark (Ingram) tied Deuce (McAllister) for rushing touchdowns in franchise history. What kind of growth have you seen from him over the course of his career?
“Each year he's run with confidence, pad levels down, his health has been outstanding really the last year and a half, two years. I thought the run yesterday was impressive and he's been real consistent. That's pretty good company when you look at what Deuce (McAllister) accomplished."
Is there anything that you attribute to Mike’s (Thomas) success against Tampa Bay? He’s put up some big numbers against them both games this season.
“I think sometimes it has to do (with being) coverage related with what they're doing. I am just watching the tape a second time here. He makes some plays for us on third down. There's some things he has to do better and clean up, but a lot of it has to do probably with the structure of what certain teams do defensively.”
Can you elaborate on that change between Taysom (Hill) and Alvin (Kamara) in the kick return game? You said you wanted to move Taysom to more of a blocking role?
“He's always been (in a blocking role) when he hadn't been returning, he's played in the core if that makes sense. When he hadn't been a kick returner, he was in the core as far as blocking. Tommylee (Lewis) was going to be up for this game. We moved him into the punt return role and then (Alvin) Kamara back (into kickoff return), but that's just something we wanted to do going into this week.”
How big is the defensive stop at the beginning of the second half when you come out, you fumble, you get the stop, they missed the field goal, but they have a chance to extend things and maybe put you in a bad position?
“I thought it was real (important), but there are three or four plays each game you look at. That was one of them. Certainly the blocked punt that affected the outcome of the game and that was important.”
A.J. Klein was talking yesterday about how the division title is just kind of the first goal of many in the regular season. How are you guys going to approach this final stretch here knowing that you still have a couple of things left that accomplish?
“We will always at the start of each week talk about where we are at and obviously we are playing for a lot right now. I think when teams start out the new season they talk about winning their division. I think that is the starting point and then from there you begin to segment. For us still week to week. I’ll point a number of things out to the team this week like I did last and then we'll move forward.”
You talked earlier about the possibility of Ted Ginn Jr. coming back. Has there been any update with that possibility?
“It is still (a possibility). His rehab is going well. (That is) still an option. Both he and (Josh) LeRibeus have progressed I’d say on schedule and in so each week we will look at that. We talk about it during the beginning of the week and receive an update from our medical team. I'm encouraged with how both of those guys are doing.”