New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Thursday, October 4, 2018
What's made the Washington defense so good so far this season?
"A couple things you see on tape, they have not given up the big play, they have limited the explosive (plays). I think they are playing the run awfully well. They are affecting the passer. I think they're their sub rush is really good and so you're seeing quarterbacks under duress. Their numbers both in the running game and the passing game are real strong and then the thing we always talk about flipside is they're playing a complementary game of football and this is a team that is one of the top six seven teams in time of possession on offense. When you get the time of possession that they're getting offensively and then you're playing the way they are defensively, relative to the run and pressuring the quarterback and also eliminating the big plays, that formula works."
How has Alex Smith looked in that offense so far, is it pretty similar to how Kansas City used him?
"Yes and yet the offense is different. It's not specific to Kansas City. He's still operating extremely efficiently. The one thing you see is his ability hadn't changed at all being able to move in the pocket flush to the pocket make a play to the right, to the left. Not only in the pocket, but outside the pocket he's dangerous. Clearly, he has a command as to what they're trying to do, whether they're in the (shot)gun or under center. I think he's playing real well."
How important is it to be flexible enough to allow players to do the things that they do well and not kind of force them into doing something you know maybe is done just because that's why it's always been done?
"There are certain things that there's a lot more flexibility involved and there's certain things where now it has to be this way because and there's usually good reason. But I think as a coach we're always trying to look at ways that help our players. A lot of it depends on what we're doing within the framework of the scheme."
How do you think Chris Thompson will play against you, since he got injured in your previous matchup?
"He's certainly someone you have to pay attention to. I haven't seen a ton of the film yet. He's a player that I think they'll look to get him touches. Obviously Adrian's (Peterson) receiving touches, he's receiving carries. They do two things, under center there's a certain running attack and then in the (shot)gun there's a certain running attack and just like we had you're going to see more than one back for them. One of the keys in this game is our ability to to handle their run game. I think they are rushing the ball very well."
In last week's game on Alvin Kamara's long touchdown run, Tre'Quan (Smith) threw a really nice block on the safety. Is that the kind of thing you guys emphasize to your receivers?
"Absolutely. Every week we'll look at every touchdown play in the league. It starts on the one-yard line and then it just goes backwards. At some point it ends depending on the game and the team. But when you see long touchdown runs, rarely is there not a receiver involved that makes it happen. In other words, you have to find a way to block the support. That is a good safety (Landon Collins) we are talking about for the Giants. And so the play was blocked well inside and 'Trey' put himself in a perfect position. You do not have to kill this guy, in other words you have to stay square on him and give the back a two-way go. It was textbook."
We talked a lot about turnovers last week. Obviously, you guys did a better job against the Giants in forcing two fumbles and not turning the ball over at all. But Washington has only given up three turnovers so far. Why have they been good at limiting those?
"They've been stingy. They're real good with the football. Alex (Smith) is real sharp with the football. He protects it in the pocket well and I think the ball security from the skill people has been good. It's a small sample size. We're three weeks in, but certainly it stands out."
D.A. (Dennis Allen) said last Friday that there have been times this year when Marcus Williams is maybe trying to do a little too much. Did you see him improve in that regard last week and would you agree with that assessment?
"I thought he played well last week. I think he is one of our better defensive players. He's smart and he's someone naturally the ball comes to. So I think when you get into some plans and there's movement and change of strength, the communication is something we're constantly working on and we have to be able to work on so that we're all on the same page. But I think he played real well this past game."
Kurt Coleman's snaps have gone down each week. How would you evaluate what he's doing?
"Well, his snaps went down last week because of base versus sub and how we're playing Vonn (Bell). A lot of that really is dictated by the Giants being a base eleven personnel team. So he's doing real well. We always have a buffalo package in and I consider him our starting strong safety. The opponent you play each week though varies as to what they want to do deployment wise and last week I think was clearly a result of that."
Was A.J. Klein still working his way back from that injury last season in the preseason and have you seen him gradually improve with what he has shown on tape the past couple games?
"Yes. I think it's a process. In training camp, he still wasn't 100 percent and then it's began to come back in the last four weeks. I think if you asked him, I think he's gradually feeling more and more in playing shape and I think you see it in his play."
When the offense is already averaging over 400 yards and almost 30 points a game, in terms of just results or how he effects the game, why is Mark Ingram's return significant?
"It's significant in a number of ways. In pass pro(tection), in the balance that we have, the things that allows us to do with Alvin is a receiver at times and also there's a wear and tear on one player. We talked all offseason about how this first month was going to be without Mark. The idea was for us to kind of keep those touches in a similar area, the playing time in a similar area and of course we weren't able to do that. In other words, his numbers did increase, and yet there's a wear and tear that takes place with that. When you're looking at a six-week season, we look at it as having two outstanding running backs and I think they complemented each other extremely well."
In the punt-return game, are you still looking at maybe looking at (Alvin) Kamara), Ted (Ginn) back there? Is anybody else besides those two?
"Well we've got the group that's training back there. Kamara, Ginn, Austin Carr. I think there's Boston Scott is working back there on our practice squad developing. a handful of guys."