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Sean Payton's conference call - January 14, 2019

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Monday, January 14, 2019 

You guys have had several very good defensive performances this season, were the last three quarters yesterday about as clean as you've seen based on what you've seen on tape?
“It was good. I am not comparing it to any other game, but it certainly was significant in our win yesterday. I thought we made some adjustments. I thought we were able to pressure the quarterback. We did not get the sacks you are looking for but we did get the pocket pushed and I thought that really helped and guys on the back end made some plays.” 

When you went back and watched, what stood out about Mike’s (Thomas) performance yesterday?
“He was physical. There were some extended plays, off-schedule plays where Drew (Brees) climbed the pocket, scrambled and found Mike (Thomas). Mike did a really good job of tracking Drew and the direction he was moving. But those were the things that stood out that were uniquely different yesterday – some of those plays that were off schedule.” 

When you mentioned the secondary making plays, how significant was that considering how fast they get rid of the ball and those guys having to make those plays individually like that?
“Yes, that's part of the way they (Philadelphia) throw the football. It’s going to be happening quick and it almost becomes part of the running game. Way back when, when Bill Walsh was putting together the West Coast offense, some of the principles were to have plays that basically gave you the same type of gains and so it's tough to defense relative to getting a sack. But our guys did a good job of tackling in space and in limiting the big plays.”  

I wonder if the last three games with the Rams, they've sort of morphed into more of a running team, especially with C.J. Anderson and now that they've got (Todd) Gurley back, they've kept it on the ground. I wonder what the challenge is for preparing for a team that might look a little different than the first time around?
“I think studying that team closely as we have, and they’re a team we look at each week. Sean (McVay) and those guys do a great job. But I think they've been a running team. Now, make no mistake about it, last week's game was super-impressive. But I think when you study their wide zone, you study their punch play, and you study some of the things they like to do out of those formations, I think all of it sets up and complements what they want to do in the play-action passing game and then lastly, in the dropback passing game. But I do think the addition of C.J. (Anderson) was late coming in and they’re are team like us that had a week of rest. That Cowboy run front, up until last week has been pretty impressive all season, so that made it that much more special when you really know how well Dallas had defended the run.” 

How about on the other side of the ball with Ndamukong Suh for the Rams? I know you guys were really interested in him in the offseason.
“What about him?” 

How much does he affect the game and how much of a presence does he bring on that side of the ball?
“He has a tremendous presence. He's a real good football player. He’s explosive. He has size. He's smart. Those are some of the challenges he presents.” 

I assume you do not see many teams with two guys in the middle of the defense that are as disruptive as Suh and Aaron Donald. Has that been the case with them this year?
“Well, without having seen all the tape yet, they are two – (Aaron) Donald of course is having an amazing season. That's one of the challenges with this front. And it's one of the reasons they assembled the front the way they did. Inside, they give you edge problems. They can run. So we'll get on the tape here." 

You guys struggled a bit with Fletcher Cox yesterday. Is there anything you can do over the course of the week to get the guys ready for this matchup?
“We'll see. That's what we'll be working on, right? As soon as possible.” 

When you look back at the last five Super Bowls, all number one seeds won them. We saw this is one and two seeds in both the championship games. Does it underscore just the importance and the value of that seeding, getting that week’s rest, getting right, healthy?
“Well history would tell us – recent history would point to that and then overall I think there are certain spots you want to start at the Derby. There's some spots no one's ever won from at the Derby. All right. But then there's some spots that are more favorable and I think probably seeding’s similar. It's not the absolute. And certainly we've seen teams win from a lot of different spots. Fifth seed, fourth seed, and so for us our focus is taking advantage of playing another game at home. Taking advantage of the crowd noise and trying to put our best foot forward. Trying to play better than we did yesterday and clean up some of the mistakes and then go from there. We're probably not as far along relative to seeding as it pertains to Super Bowl winners.” 

Marshon (Lattimore) didn't have the same stats this year as his rookie season, but how much did he help the defense this year and then obviously yesterday?
“He has been a big help, (a) big plus as to what he does. He is a long player. He has good instincts. Yesterday, in a playoff game, he had two interceptions and (that) ended up being the difference.”

How has Taylor Stallworth progressed as the season’s gone on?
“He's doing well. He's played each in each of the games. We kind of rotate our guys in there and he's doing a good job.” 

You saw some dime packages yesterday. How does that kind of affect how you guys attack?
“They play a lot of dime. They played a lot of dime in the week’s prior game (against Chicago). They played a lot of dime last year in the Super Bowl. It’s one of the – you’re talking about the defense for Philadelphia, right? That’s part of what they do.”

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