New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call With New Orleans Media - Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Since the first Atlanta game, what kind of improvement have you seen from your secondary in the last two months?
"Gradually, I think we've gotten better in that area. I think when you play a team like this and you have a guy like (Calvin) Ridley opposite of Julio (Jones) and a guy like (Mohamed) Sanu inside. This is one of the more dangerous offenses relative to a quarterback getting the ball down the field, receivers that can stretch the field, and you have to be on point. If you're third, if you're a cloud player, sky player, there can be no gray area. So on a short week here we've got to get ready for that."
Are you prepping as if Deion Jones would play?
He's had success against you? What are the traits that have led to that?
"He's had a lot of success. He has real good instincts and it's the traits you look for in a Mike linebacker. He can run. He can key and diagnose. He plays the pass awfully well. He can cover. But most importantly you can stack him in a position, look at your formation, look your set, get a half step lead on a block coming from inside, and understand schemes and I think that's something that, shoot, any time you have a player like that who's missed (time), that's tough, but he's an outstanding player."
When you looked at the film from Sunday's game, what stood out about Tre'Quan Smith's performance?
"I thought he played well. He made some tough catches in traffic and handled the press coverage. Just his consistency."
What have you been getting out of Keith Kirkwood the last two games?
"We've got a lot of confidence in what he's done. He's a guy that had a real good camp. He's strong. He has a real good catch radius and he can run. So we just keep working with him, but he's not a stranger. He's just been on the practice squad so he's received a lot of work and he's extremely smart."
Is it tough to try to work a guy like Brandon Marshall into the fold with a short week ahead of you?
"We just keep going through the process and we'll put him up when he's ready and this week may be that week. We'll look at (him) closely. The key is each week what we're going to do from a plan standpoint and then how does someone fit in the plan. So that's the thing we're looking at in a short period of time."
Are you seeing something different from Sheldon Rankins this year or is he just having more success?
"I think he's playing better. I think he's playing at a higher level. I think he's had a little bit better rush plan and you're seeing that. You're seeing penetration, push, and you're seeing a guy that has taken an incremental step as a three technique and, man, it's exciting to watch."
When you look at the success of Drew Brees and the run game, is that kind of a chicken and egg situation where they are having success because of each other?
"I know this, we talk about this all the time, two really good allies to good quarterback play is good defense and a run game. When you are able to do those two things then, there is a certain amount of pressure that is relieved from the position as opposed to you are giving up a ton of points each week and you have to stress as a quarterback to keep up. I just think he is playing at such a strong level. He is so mindful of our team goals. (He pays attention to) Ball security and yet, his decision making-process and location has been outstanding. He's getting the ball down the field. (I am) Just proud of how he's playing and certainly it's not surprising."
As a play-caller, when you have a quarterback like Drew (Brees) that's so hot and competent right now, does it affect how you call plays?
"I would say at times you get into a role and you feel like I haven't seen the ball hit the ground and you feel like, man, let's not complicate this. This guy is seeing things and throwing things and we're separating. Protection is important as long as he's not getting hit and I thought that was a key part last week. There was a concern with their front and our guys battled and did a good job. So certainly you pay attention to that."
I know you're buried in Falcons, but what we saw last night in the Chiefs-Rams (game) and what's going on around the league. Are we a golden age of offense right now and quarterback play or do you think there are other reasons for these incredible offenses that we're seeing and the quarterback play and the completion percentages that are so high around the league? What are the factors you think behind all that?
"There's a handful of teams that appear to be operating at a high level like that and I am sure there's a number of things. Rules have changed over the years. That has benefited the offense. Some of these quarterbacks are further along coming out of college because of their experience throwing the football. In the evaluation process, the challenge is separating these guys that have thrown for a lot of yards in a wide open offense, but do they have the ability to do that at the NFL level and, obviously, a player like (Patrick) Mahomes does. (Drew) Brees came from a spread offense or a team that threw the ball a lot when it was not necessarily popular to do that. He has the athleticism, the fortitude, the work, all the other makeups that you're looking for. I would say there is elements to what teams are doing. Ultimately, at some point, you have to be in the pocket on third down and throw the football. I think it is the newest, but I don't think it is new. We had the Rams for years. If you went back for even further you had the run and shoot. You go back to the (Houston) Oilers. You go back to the San Antonio Gunslingers in the other league (USFL). So I think it's just a matter of what a team is doing philosophically. We're trying to do what we think fits our team the best. But certainly it's fun to see other offenses."
The completion percentage around the league is way high for a quarterback? What do you think accounts for that?
"I think a lot of that is the rules that have changed."