New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Thursday, January 3, 2019
I don't know how much contact you've been able to have with Mrs. (Gayle) Benson during the season, but do you have any thoughts on her first year of sole ownership?
"I was asked this at the start of the season and shortly after Mr. (Tom) Benson's death. I think that she's been fantastic with the transition. She's been tremendously supportive of our team and always available. And that requires a lot of travel, so it's been impressive."
Is there any difference in management styles?
"No. Listen, I think that one of the things that Mr. B (Tom Benson) did extremely well and you see Mrs. (Gayle) Benson doing, is hiring and employing the right people and letting them do their jobs. But she's been tremendously supportive of our challenges. And I think that it's been, I would say for the most part, very seamless. And I mean and that's really a credit to her."
How would you describe Mark Ingram's personality?
"How would I describe his personality? I think he's very competitive. I think he has a good smile to him and (is) someone who gets along with all of his teammates."
How important is it to have guys like Craig Robertson and (Chris) Banjo on the team just energy guys like that?
"It starts with performance. It is a performance-based business and you need to have guys that can do multiple things. Those two players specifically do multiple things well. Craig can play a handful of positions in the kicking game. He can start at linebacker. It's back to 46 players on the gameday roster and the challenges that presents. And so then when you put that with their makeup, and how they approach their daily job, you know that's invaluable to what a team is then. Because they bring that enthusiasm, that competitive fire to what they do and they're real good leaders."
Can you explain to someone like me who's never played offensive line or never studied it, never coached it what makes Ryan Ramczyk good over at right tackle?
"Well, you'd say there's a skillset involved. Let's start with the physical traits, the style, the length, the height. You have to have a certain amount of length with your arms. If you're short-armed then typically the defensive ends (are) making first contact with you, you're not making first contact with them. So there's a stature required. He's very intelligent, and then I would say balance and athleticism on his feet. So when you when you match his intelligence and then you put it with the physical skillset in his traits that he has – there's my 30 seconds for your question."
There's this kind of quiet demeanor that he has?
"That is neither here nor there, meaning that is his demeanor. There have been many successful at the position with the opposite demeanor. That's just that just happens to be his demeanor at right tackle. It can vary. That would be the case with any position, right?"
You guys have had so much success over the years sort of throwing to the open guy quote on quote. What's allowed Michael Thomas to be a guy that catches 125 passes in a season. Is that something you wouldn't have necessarily envisioned?
"We don't start the season with the vision for anyone like that. It started with obviously the game at home against Tampa Bay that he had a lot of targets and receptions on. He's been a big part of what we do offensively, but there's some weeks maybe that we anticipate him having more throws and he doesn't get (them). Other weeks maybe it's just hard to predict. So I wouldn't have known he was at that specific number until you just mentioned it. It's a result. We're trying to focus on winning and the other things are byproducts of it."
Are there certain guys though that you know no matter who's covering him even if he's doubled you would throw to them no matter what?
"No. No one's getting doubled completely where you're just forcing throws to him. Now our job during the week is to try to figure out how to take the double off of him or how to slow down that. There's been some games where, Cleveland at the end of that game, the Eagles game this year, other guys are going to have to make some plays then, but we don't just drop back and throw the ball indiscriminately to a player."
You've talked about Keith Kirkwood in the past being able to play all the positions or at least learning all the positions, but the where do you think he thrives as a receiver?
"He's got strong hands in traffic. I think he's real smart. He's got a good catch radius and I think those are some things that stand out and he can block. I think for a young player he has really good awareness and we're talking about (Keith) Kirkwood. Tre'Quan (Smith's) has some of those same traits. Now I feel like his production's dropped a little bit and it's going to be important we get him going."
Why does the offense work better when Smith has had more success or why do you think Tre'Quan is an important part of the offense?
"You just have to have consistency at the other spots or they can force you to throw it to where you're inconsistent."
Were you able to appreciate from afar what the Colts this year had to do to make the playoffs and is that was gratifying as a coach in any way?
"Absolutely. I think Frank (Reich) has done a tremendous job. There's a ton of good stories there obviously with the quarterback (Andrew Luck) who had a significant injury and was somewhat concerned whether he'd be able to play again. We saw so many good years early on. We've seen them on film this week and a couple of times in a crossover study. It's an entirely different team. That offensive line is playing outstanding. To see how they started and then playing obviously the last game on the road last week and getting that win it's been impressive. You do root for teams and people like that."