New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Having seen this Rams defensive line for a while now and how it has changed this year, what problems does it cause?
"It presents a ton of problems. First off, the talent when you're talking about some of the top tackles and ends in the business, that that in itself is difficult. And then when you put it with an outstanding scheme, then you really have a challenge. We're going to work hard this week as best we can to simulate the movement. But guys like (Aaron) Donald, and (Ndamukong) Suh, and (Michael) Brockers and these guys, they do a great job just putting your putting your guards and putting your tackles on edges."
Can you talk about the acquisition by the Rams of outside linebacker Dante Fowler and what he brings?
"He's an outstanding pass rusher and it's an aggressive move as they approach the trade deadline to add another piece to the puzzle. Now preparing for him, I think in a short week or a week where he's just coming over, certainly we'll expect to see him in sub-rush packages."
What are the challenges of going up against a Wade Phillips defense? I imagine you've done it a lot in your career.
"They play with great energy. They are going to be on point with their assignment and technique. You're going to have to beat man-to-man or match type coverage. They play some fire-zone coverage looks, but most often whoever you are tight end, running back, receiver, there's going to be someone playing you in coverage. So you're not going to have a lot of zone windows to throw footballs. It's going to be the ability to separate."
What is the significance of last year's game and what you can gleam from that for this year's game in your preparation?
"We don't talk about it a lot, but it sits on the cut-ups. So every time you're watching film, like yesterday we're watching play-action, run, we're watching empty (sets). Any of the cut-ups you're looking at, it is included in the cut-ups. And so it is a reminder very quickly of how that game got away from us early on field positionwise. There's a turnover in there. There's a (40-yard) punt return in there and then all of a sudden we're playing from behind on the road. The one thing we try to do…we're eight weeks in, depending on the team, is we'll look in our cut-up base and we'll put all of this year's games (in) of course, and we'll have most of last year's games. So when there's not been a coordinator change, you'll have a lot of that to look at. But clearly, the reminder for us from the game would be in the film study. That will happen all week. Tonight we'll look at third down. We'll see our third down numbers from that game. The following day will be red zone. So the game itself hasn't been brought up. There are a lot of new faces, but certainly how it unfolded is a reminder."
Is it tougher dealing with a physical back like Todd Gurley when the Rams play in an offense that could be considered a spread by some?
"Well, they're really not spread. They're in 11 personnel and they're playing in bunch and they're playing in snug, tight splits. It's been something Sean's (McVay) done a great job with. They will create a little bit of quick movement and then shift and get set and maybe get some pre-snap information relative to what they think you're doing and then get to some advantage plays. I think that there's a ton of guys there. Aaron Kromer is coaching the offensive line, along with his son. Aaron's been here, Bill Johnson. There are just a lot of ties within the framework of the staffs, but I think they're running the zone scheme and the punch scheme as well as anyone. Every week when we finish our game, we'll have all the touchdowns from the week before. We'll study not just the opponent, but we'll look at what's going on in the league. It's a reminder every week when you put that tape on you know here's Gurley from 28 yards, here is Gurley from 30 yards, here's Gurley catching a screen for a touchdown. He's an outstanding player both in the running game and passing game and I think the design, along with his skillset, has been a great fit."
Are the Rams a team you watch maybe when you aren't even directly preparing to get things from them??
"Yeah absolutely. Absolutely. They're a must-watch team. There's about seven of those but certainly that would be one."
How is Eli Apple looking in Week Two of preparation after being here with the team for seven days?
"In his first week out, I think he did some good things and yet he struggled at times with some things. So, I think this transition now from the first week to his second week, I thought I was pleased at times with some of his play and yet, it wasn't up to I'm sure his potential. This is going to be important. His technique got off a little bit in the game against the Vikings. We're going to have to know how to play these bunches, these snugs, these reduced splits, and be able to handle this passing game that can get vertical and also get horizontal across the field. They'll get tested this week."
As a playcaller, how do you weigh the pros and cons of putting something in new offensively each week, against sticking with your bread and butter?
"That's a good question. The thing that I think is important, is if you can get to a concept that's related to your bread and butter and present it to your players in such a fashion and just talk about, 'Hey, we're going to tweak it a little bit.' But when the installation's finished and when you've gone through the walk through snaps and practice snaps, it's not like a complete foreign language. It's something they feel comfortable with and they understand that we're trying to adjust it for this reason. A lot of times you have looks – you have video looks where you can show them. 'See, take a peek at this.' And you show them a picture, picture if we do (that). And so we try not to come up with a lot of new inventions. (It) Might be formation, might be personnel grouping. But I think there's a balance there of things that they know well. So none of us want to be at a karaoke bar at 1a.m. and having to sing the words to a song we're clueless about."
How often do you put in something new each week, is it rare?
"No. There's little wrinkles. There's things that come up in the red zone (and) third down. But how do we tie it into what we know and that's the blend. So we will have things. Rare would be me being at a karaoke bar (laughter)."
When you look at your offense and Sean McVay's, how do you get excited about planning for a young offensive mind like that?
"When you see a team coming in here unbeaten, and you know they are in the NFC, and you recognize the significance of the game (you can see what they've accomplished as a team). I am a huge fan of Sean's and I have gotten to know him and have a ton of respect for what he has done going on his second year, especially, with what he had when he went in there. That has been an amazing turnaround. But I look at it more from a team perspective. And I look at it more from, 'Man, this is the next challenge.' Three weeks ago, we were looking at on the road(in) Baltimore. Then the following week it was the Vikings. The following week – and so we just stare (at the present opponent), in this city, at the pothole in front of us. That is the one we have to worry about. Not the ones that are there coming up beyond that. And this one sits square in the middle of the street. And it's (an) important game."
Will you be able to watch any of the LSU-Alabama game on television or will you be prepping for meetings?
"We'll be at the hotel in meetings."