New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Wednesday, September 19, 2018
What went into the strategy at the linebacker rotation shifting from week one to week two with the snaps and does it give you what you saw maybe in week two a better a feeling of how to go forward with your group that sees defensive snaps?
"I think it's a good question and I would say early in the season one of the challenges is sorting through the snaps in the exact roles for that position and I'm kind of going through the same thing relative to some of the receiver snaps. Hopefully quicker than later, it'll begin to become clear and it's not like it's an ongoing competition. We're always competing, but it's trying to package your personnel groupings that you think give you the best chance to win. You saw a little difference from week one to week two. Some of that might be predicated on the type of team we're going to see. I do think it's something that is not uncommon at the start of a season as teams begin to start play where you're trying to figure out the balance of what you're doing with your tight ends (for example), specifically, to a couple positions."
What's the difference when you are so used to having say your middle linebacker on the field every down and it seems like from one play to another you could have a different kind of linebacker out there. What is the challenge of going with that situation?
"We're playing so much of the games in the substituted sets. Let's go in reverse order and start with your nickel package and assign a certain percentage at least to that. The very normal or typical way would be the sam and the nickel rotate on and off between base and sub (packages). I don't think it's a big jump if your mike in the base becomes the person who's rotating with a nickel and sub, but I would also say that it probably is less the norm."
You mentioned the receivers. Is Tre'Quan Smith, a guy that you've noticed has been able to make improvements and adjustments pretty quickly?
"He is playing well and what I mean by that practicing well, (in) training camp. We have to find ways to get him more touches. He is handling our installation. He knows what we are doing gameplan wise and I think he is ready to prove that. A lot of that just comes by some a: design, b: opportunities where the coverage or the play design puts the ball towards him. That's one of the things that we have to keep building on."
What have you guys been doing to get the running game back to what we are used to seeing in 2017?
"It'll be an important part of this week's game on the road. Obviously this past week, when we rushed it better in the latter part of the game, it helped us all offensively. Prior to that we missed a ton of opportunities, just scoring opportunities. So as you go through and update with your players where we're at and keys to what we think are important in winning and losing – that certainly sits one at the top."
How have you guys handled the communication device with the linebackers going in and out?
"It is pretty easy. This past week for instance, A.J. (Klein), it is who is on the field in all the packages. So if he is on the field at sam moving to mike and sub, he has the helmet. The week prior we left it on the mike, so it's really a pretty simple."
Does Atlanta look significantly different than in years past or are they pretty much the same? Especially defensively without Deion Jones and Keanu Neal?
"Those are two real good players and extremely competitive guys. Guys that we have gotten to know even in our division and coaching at the Pro Bowl. I think to Dan's (Quinn) credit and Marquand (Manuel) and those guys on their staff, they coach a real high energy defense. When you watch them pursue and get to the ball I mean they'll play a lot of single safety it's the same package from a design standpoint that we've seen on film. And I think that players need to understand the coverage structure both in the running game and the passing game. But I think those are two good players. When you watch them though they played Carolina very well last week."
Having coached Deion Jones in the Pro Bowl and sitting down and talking with him, what type of player is he?
"He is extremely instinctive. He is a great individual. He is all the things you look for. His makeup (is outstanding). He has tremendous acceleration to the ball and is able to beat – it's really tough for that lineman trying to get up to that second level. He has those instincts to be a half step ahead of those blocks. So when you put his speed together, his ability to tackle, take the ball away, he's a fantastic player."
When you mention wanting to get more production out of your receivers like Tre'Quan Smith, how much of that is a function of Drew Brees having a relationship already with Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr.? How much of a factor is it for him already having that time on task with those guys?
"Relative to Tre'Quan, I don't think that applies that much. They've spent a ton of time training even in the summer where Drew had him out in California. Part of it is just here we are two weeks in and some of the things we've done relative to the first two weeks. I think that you're going to see those numbers change some. And I think historically, offensively with Drew a lot of different guys have been involved in the passing game and I think that will be the same case this year."