New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Media Conference Call - Thursday, December 13, 2018
What went into the decision with Brandon (Marshall)?
"The decision was – we had an opportunity to claim a player. And we feel like Ted's (Ginn Jr.) close to coming back. We still might be in a position to possibly bring Brandon back, but yesterday we needed a roster spot."
How about Derek Newton? What put him on your radar?
"Well we had worked him out a few weeks prior and the workout had gone well. We felt like he was in shape. The question certainly was his health given the injuries but it was impressive and so he was a guy that's been on our shortlist."
With him specifically, the last time he played was 2016. He's had kind of a long road back. What kind of gave you the confidence that he was all the way back?
"When a guy misses a year, it's significant. So you're skeptical to begin with and yet he moved around well, his workout was good. He was strong. The physical looked clean. We felt like he has got the right makeup, so we'll have a chance to see him and work with him now and obviously bring him along."
Does the season almost feel like it's moved into another phase now and that you accomplished one big phase, and now you're going into hopefully the seeding portion of it where you want to get the best seed? Or does it continue to play out week to week?
"I think to some degree it does. I think there are these different goals. Clearly, this is an important game for us. And we've been doing a lot of things well. Some other things we have to clean up and get better at. But, explaining it and making sure the players understand the significance of today's format, what the seeding process is like, and what it means I think is important."
With Zach Line, can you talk about his ability to embrace an unglamorous role and yet be prepared to be productive when he does receive opportunities with the football.
"He's just a good football player. He's had experienced playing halfback. He's playing on special teams. He can play on our third down protection unit. He's smart. And that's a trait that when combined with talent, then you know what you're getting. (At) Cincinnati we gave him some carries at the end of the game and if need be, he could function in that role. He's functioned for us in the role as a sub protector. But a lot of it is the ability he doesn't have to receive a handful of reps and (he can still) understand it all."
What did you like about (Erik) Swoope and can you let us know why he wasn't out at practice today?
"Yes, he is going through a physical process. He did not practice. We felt like the film looked good. He is a developmental tight end. An 'F'. A guy that can get down the field in the seams. A guy that certainly has some growth potential. The key will just be the physical."
Do you see a lot of similarities between Alvin (Kamara) and Christian McCaffrey? If so, does it help you prepare for a player like that?
"Yes, I think to some degree. They're both good football players. They're both smart. They both have return ability. They're both very good with the ball in their hands in space and they can get it when it is handed (off) to them. They can get it when it is thrown to them. So that versatility would mean that there are some similarities. Obviously, (each of them has) their own skill set and how they play, but both (are) talented players that I'm sure both teams are glad they have."
With his (Christian McCaffery's) production in the passing game is it like a week where Demario (Davis) plays a big role in that?
"It depends on the down and distance and the personnel in the game. I just did the conference call with Carolina and the same question was asked. If Alvin (Kamara) is on the field with the fullback, the tight end, and two receivers he's truly the halfback. Obviously, we move him around and McCaffrey has that flexibility so a lot of the matchup depends on who's on the field with him."
Halftime adjustments are asked all the time. What is the key to being able to get halftime adjustments in the locker room given the condensed time period?
"It's short. Those adjustments are really taking place in the first half relative to notes. we've got to get back to this. These are things that we're discussing over the headset. 'Make sure at halftime we bring up this.' Halftime allows the players to come in, quickly refresh, coaches kind of (talk about) 'all right a, b, and c. Here we go.' Then (we get) together on offense and defense and then it's eight minutes, nine minutes. It happens really quick so I think there's a process that's communicated maybe more so at halftime, but is taking place throughout the first half."
How much and you learned through the years to tweak with that or to improve on that and is there an instance where you can pinpoint where this one really worked that you guys got it right and were able to help you win the game?
"Yes. There's definitely I think things that that we've done and talked about at halftime that benefited us in the second half and there's things that maybe you didn't get to or didn't turn out the way you wanted. But you have access to the pictures throughout the course of the half. You're looking at the photos, what they're doing, maybe things that are different than what you expected. Then something might come up and we've had blitz adjustments. When we played Philadelphia this year there's a good example where we started getting all of that one double Mike. We were going through a handful of plays that we wanted to get back to where maybe if the free safety left the field than it was going to be this. I think that happens quite a bit."
Taysom (Hill) has only played seven offensive snaps last two weeks. What has sort of led to him having a reduced role on offense?
"Sometimes it is just based on what we think we are going to get matched (up) with defensively. Lately we have received a little bit more base defense when he is in. They treated him like a tight end early in the season. They've treated him like a receiver, so week by week and then part of it is where we are at in the game from a play count standpoint. So his versatility's something that is good for us and that can vary by game."
Given Taysom's record of accomplishment on special teams, I realize he wants to be a quarterback, but at this point do you see him being as effective as a guy like Fred McAfee here or Steve Gleason or a guy like that? Does he have all those same tools?
"I think he does and yet the difference is I think he can be a quarterback. I think that's the plan. The plus is he has that athleticism, size, and speed. He can do a lot of things. There's not a lot of that can you know handle four core special teams, train at the quarterback position, and also really be in the game as an F type player. He's done that and balanced it well, but I do see him as a quarterback."
The punt block too. Does it show kind of a sense of instincts, assignments, spatial awareness?
"He has very good savvy. You just say he's a good football player. He's catching, he's rushing, he's tackling, he's running, he's throwing. I mean he's just a good football player, but I would agree with you."
What are some of the challenges with bringing pass rush after Cam Newton is it a thing making sure to be aware of your rushing lanes?
"I think you do have to be careful. He is very dangerous outside the pocket. He has a really good arm when he is moving and I think the other thing is he is very strong in the pocket. He's someone who you see people have been in a position to get a sack and yet they haven't been able to tackle him and his strength and balance make it challenging."