New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call With New Orleans Media - Wednesday, January 2, 2019
You told us this week you would be working on your own team not worrying about the opponent, but what are the challenges this week of having this unkown that you are preparing for?
"I don't see that being a challenge, I think the thing that we just talked about is really focusing on our technique, our situational football, be it third down or red zone, backed up, short yardage. There's plenty to do. There's several goals with the week. You want to recover. You want to get ample rest. You want to clean up some things that you think you can improve on. That's what we'll start doing."
Is it normal for a team over the course of a season for the fundamentals to need to be tuned up here and there?
"It's normal for you to daily work on that. You never just stop working on fundamentals."
Is there a level of how much physically you do this week? Do you dial back physically and do more mental things?
"I think you can (be physical). You balance what you want to and are trying to accomplish and kind of go from there."
At this stage of the season with the bye week obviously, how do you manage the offensive line given the physical nature of the position and the number of snaps those guys take part in? "I think it's beneficial to a lot of positions. I think it still gets back to trying to utilize this week the best way you can and certainly get your players healthy that have been nicked up. It can vary by team and where you're at when you end the year."
*Have you granted any coaching interview requests for your assistants? *
"I wouldn't release any of that to you guys right now."
Do you recall anytime in your career where you think that a season completion rate would have approached 75 percent. Would you have thought it was unrealistic and how do you view Drew Brees' regular season 74.4 completion percentage in the context of how football has developed and how his career has gone?
"I'm assuming when you asked that Brett (Martel), you weren't asking me if I threw for 74 or 75 percent (laughter). That was a stretch. Honestly, it's a high mark. I can't recall being with a quarterback or an offense, where he's (the quarterback) completing balls at that high number. I think it's exceptional and I don't think you take it for granted. That efficiency is impressive."
*Are there any factors that go into it that you not automatically think since there are a lot of talented quarterbacks out there who haven't approached that? *
"Let's start with ability and arm talent, because those are similar, right? Arm talent and ability, those go into physical skillsets. I would say his accuracy is exceptional. Then the methodical approach, the amount of time he puts into the situations, those things factor in, but it's been impressive."
Can you talk about the mix in the locker room with veterans like Drew and Jermon Bushrod mixed with younger players like Alvin Kamara, Marshon Lattimore and Ryan Ramczyk and how that might be a good mix. How does that work and do they help each other and benefit each other?
"Every team's made up of veteran players and rookies, so I think it's pretty normal. I say that where you might have veteran leadership or veteran leaders at the tight end position, linebacker position, corner or safety, (mixed) with younger players, I think it's pretty common. In fact, every team has that. I think it becomes more important relative to who they are and what they value. I think it still and always will be a team game, rather to accomplishing individual goals and I think that they've handled that pare of it well this year."
I know you are emphasizing the team goals and I wanted your thoughts and Drew Brees as an MVP candidate?
"I just went through being asked this question last week though and so this is something I have no control over, zero. When I say this in a humble way, I don't even think about that topic because that's someone else deciding that. Absolutely is he worthy and do I have a bias? Absolutely. Yet, there's a different group of people that are going to decide that. Our focus is on the things that we can control. I don't mean to be short or cut you off, but the five minutes engaging in conversation for us that aren't involved, that's for you guys. Last week I said the same thing. He's having a fantastic season."
I know you're a historian of the game and appreciate that part of it and I was just getting your thoughts on it.
"Absolutely, but to chime in and have a quote nationally about his candidacy…He definitely is playing at an extremely high level and yet he would tell you today his focus is on what we have ahead of us."