New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Wednesday, October 24, 2018
*What made Eli Apple attractive as a guy you wanted to acquire? *
"There were a few things. Obviously in the evaluation process coming out of college we were real familiar with them. I think we have a pretty good handle on the players that have come out of there (Ohio State). Having a chance to visit once the draft's taken place about a player, it's not uncommon that we would visit with certain players on a roster about guys they might've played with in college or maybe with prior to (on) another NFL team. We felt good on the information. We like the skillset and we're excited to work with them. He got in last night."
*What has made the connection between Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen so productive for the Vikings? *
"First off without knowing specifically, we had a chance to coach Adam at the Pro Bowl and I think you have a great skillset, someone who has exceptional transition, great route-running (ability), savvy, can run. You just see him getting better and better and then obviously Kirk's a guy that can get the ball down the field and they do a number of things that make it challenging to cover him. So you start with the real talented player and a quarterback that has the arm to feed it to him."
*Minnesota is ranked first in third down defense, have you been able to identify why they have been so successful there? *
"I don't feel like they have allowed a conversion in the last three weeks maybe or 15 straight (drives). Mike's (Zimmer) done a fantastic job and they always present challenging looks with their pressure packages and they give you a lot of things to handle. So they are first in the NFL. Perennially, they've been one of the better down defenses in all the years he's been there and it'll be an important part of the gameplan for this week."
How quickly do you think Eli Apple can adapt and contribute on the field?
"We'll see. We'll be working at it today, getting (him) practice snaps today and we'll see where he's at and make sure we have a plan in place that includes him and we'll see how quickly (he) transitions."
How much did you talk to some of the Ohio State teammates of his on the team about Eli before the organization made the decision to trade for him?
"Yes, I was just alluding to that. That's one of the things that you do typically if you have some players you know well enough and you trust their opinion and obviously we have a number of guys from Ohio State here."
How hard is it when you make the trade you guys have made to weight draft picks against players especially when you had already traded some draft picks away to draft Marcus Davenport and acquire Teddy Bridgewater prior to this deal?
"I think you look at it closely for the for the value and you look at it closely for what you think a player's value should be. We felt we felt strong enough that a four was something that was worth our while."
*What are the Vikings doing to get the production out of Danielle Hunter that they are receiving with 7.5 sacks? *
"They stress your front a couple different ways. They stress your front when they walk two guys up in the A gap or the A and B gaps and they thin you out as an offensive line. The running backs have to be involved in the protection (and) the five offensive linemen have to be involved. So one of the challenges if you're not careful especially when you're there playing there with the crowd noise, you're just a half count late off the snap and they're on an edge already. Those two things aren't good news. I have (snap) count late and they're already on your edge. So I would start there"
How much do you pay attention to what happened with Eli Apple at his last stop or are you really not concerned with that? How much does it help that he has familiarity with all the Ohio State players?
"I'm excited to have him. I don't know anything about the Giants and the internal workings of that organization now. It's been however many years since I left, but I do know a lot about ours and we look forward to having him."
While they haven't said if he will play or not, Everson Griffen is returning to the team this week. What does he bring?
"(A) Real talented pass rusher, a talented run player. One of their better defensive players. It is an important part of what they've done defensively, so (now they have) another real good defensive end."
Are you preparing with the expectation that he'll play?
"Yeah, we would always take that approach. The ends that are playing right now are playing extremely well and so we'll go into it with that same approach."
Are you concerned that you currently don't have a first, third and fourth round draft pick in 2019?
"My concern right now's the defensive ends and the first down (and) third down defense, all of the things that are right here in front of us this week. We'll find a way to get a draft pick or two back. That's easy to do. So I'm not concerned with that to answer your question right now. Obviously we value the draft picks and we feel like it was an opportunity to make our team better."
There's been a spike in two-point attempts and fourth down attempts in the game around the league. Is there anything in your analytics research that has made some of those attempts seem like a smarter approach in recent years.?
"No none. There's some things we hold true to. (In) low scoring games, we'll look at that chart in the third quarter. High scoring games we want look at it (when) we're in the fourth quarter. Once (in a game) this year, the chart suggested two and yet it was high-scoring, we were in the third quarter. Then at the end of games relative to going for the win or not, I think a lot goes into that decision. How's your team playing? How are they holding up? How's your health? Where is the momentum? How much time left? All those things factor in, but I've seen some more overtime games I feel like than we've seen lately and obviously some of those decisions come up then."
What about the fourth down tries and the decision-making process around that?
"That is entirely different, totally different. So fourth down, then it's what do we need. If it is for a half a yard, I feel like we can get a half a yard. (There might be) an opportunity maybe to set the tone early. But it is guarded still. You still have to be smart with it. I think we've been pretty consistent during our time here depending on where we're at on the field."
How does their offense look now with Kirk Cousins in it?
"I would say look Kirk's a guy that plays with a lot of confidence. He's gotten the ball down the field maybe a little bit more than last year. There's a handful of changes obviously, the coordinator Pat (Shurmur) now is (head) coach in New York. Tony Soprano, their line coach passed away in the offseason and you have a new quarterback. So you get some different things maybe than you saw from last year's team and yet you're still getting a team that's been real efficient. They're having success getting the ball down the field. We talked about (Adam) Thielen already, (Stefon) Diggs. I think they stress you. The tight end (Kyle Rudolph) as well."
How did you feel that Cameron Tom did in his first action?
"We thought he did well coming in and receiving his first action. I was proud of him. He is strong and now there are a few things that we will clean up. But I was I was proud of how he played."
Could you discuss how you were trying to upgrade the secondary with the trade?
"We felt like it was in our best interest. We felt like it was going to help us this year."