New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with Local Media
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Can you talk about the acquisition of Phillip Hunt and Chris Owens? Is that just a depth move for now or is there a role they will be playing in the short-term?
"I think, right now, they would be depth moves. We have a little flexibility to do that."
With regards to Chris Owens, is there anything you can share about the corresponding move?
"Here is the thing, I don't want to give you that information until the transactions come out because there are a couple of different ways we can go there and I would only have time to visit with the player once we decide to go that direction."
But you can confirm Chris Owens is being signed?
"Yes, I can."
Houston ranks among the best in third down defense and your offense ranks among the best on third down. What has been key to your success, and what makes them so good at defending on third down?
"Let's start with the success they've had, they're number one in the league on third down defense. I think there are two things that play a part in that. I think they rush the passer extremely well. They have a handful of looks and a number of guys that can win one-on-one battles. When you watch a whole season's worth of third down (plays), which we did last night and yesterday, you're watching every third-and-two to three, four to six, seven to ten, literally every snap, and then in to last season to make sure that there are no pressures that you haven't seen, its apparent that if they're not sacking the quarterback they are forcing him to throw quicker then he wants to. Then, couple that with a real good secondary with experienced players, corners that are sudden with good ball skills. Those two combined are keys to being real good in any type of pass defense. Third down pass defense because it's a passing down. Then I would say for, there are some similarities. Obviously we have to be able to protect. I think our guys do a great job, Drew (Brees) does a great job of understanding the scheme, where we're going with the football. We've had some balance, we've run the ball maybe a little bit more with some success. Last week I think the first third down of the game was a toss to (Mark) Ingram. Having that consistency offensively, the ability to give the quarterback that extra half of a second to throw, and the receivers being able to separate against man to man. That's an important matchup in this game. We're currently right at the top, if not number one, and can we stay on the field on third down. When you watch their game two weeks ago against Cincinnati you would say that the one thing that stood out is Houston on defense was really outstanding in getting off the field against them on third down. It was unusual for Cincinnati because they are so good offensively."
In regards to third down, a lot of that is forcing third and long situations…
"Yeah. I think that obviously it ties in with your early down efficiency. They have gotten opponents into the seven to ten (yard) category. We always can tell when we put the cutups on because it is sorted for us as to how we look at it on our sheet. Short yardage is third and one, third and two to three, four to six, seven to ten. So we look at the categories and we get to the seven to ten and Johnny (Morton) or Pete (Carmichael) will say 'well, there are 48 of these' and you're like 'wow'. Those early down efficiencies are obviously important."
When Dennis Allen and Bill Johnson came on staff, did they come together or did one vouch for the other?
"When they came, I'm going back to 2006, we had a grease board in one of our offices of our team. On the other side of the wall we have a grease board and we have a depth chart of coaches that we're trying to hire. Dennis is at Atlanta and he is under contract. I call up Jim Mora and I'm trying to get him a position full-time from a quality control position which he held with Atlanta. It still requires permission, in other words Jim can just say no, I'm not going to give you permission. At the same time, Dennis has an opportunity to interview with Tampa Bay and Jon Gruden. The defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was there. They had a secondary job open and it's the one that he wanted, obviously, because that has been his background and he played in the secondary and in Atlanta he was helping with the defensive line. I had an assistant defensive line job open. It's January post-Katrina and so there are not a lot of people from out of state looking to come here. He clearly saw the one job, and I said well come in and interview so he came and interviewed. I knew he wanted to take a peek at the Tampa thing. I also knew that there was a good chance that Jim Mora Jr. might give us permission, may not give it to Tampa Bay. I wasn't sure of that. Sure enough a couple of days later Dennis called back took the position with us. He came initially as Assistant Defensive Line and it was a separate hire from Bill Johnson. Bill doesn't come that year, Bill is in Atlanta and our initial d-line coach that year was Marion Hobby. It's not going to be until a year or two later that we hire Bill, and Dennis has already been here. They had worked together back at Texas A&M where Dennis was a player."
Coach Ingalls mentioned that Andrus Peat received some work at guard. Is that checking out his versatility or has he earned a chance to try to get on the field somewhere?
"We kind of got going last week with him playing the left tackle spot and Terron (Armstead) felt good enough at the end of the week to play. Just looking at where can we get him on the field and get him work. He has reps now at guard, reps at tackle. I still see the player, I see him as a good football player. His week last week was outstanding. I think it was challenging last week where he kind of had the mindset that he was going to get to play and start and then at the end of the week Terron felt good enough and wanted to go. We will see where we put him with this game, but I like the way that he is progressing a lot."
Is there anything in particular that you saw from the time that training camp ended until now?
"I think it has been a gradual progression, a confidence level, he's got fantastic athleticism. I think it's just getting comfortable with what we're doing and demonstrating it and he's been able to do that."
The Texans ran a little bit of Wildcat on offense. How much does that throw a wrench in setting up a defensive gameplan?
"You have to defend what you're seeing, so that adds an element. There were two parts to what they did from a wildcat formation. They had just a running back accepting the snap and running the football and then they had a receiver accepting the snap in a run-read mode so there are two elements that you saw. Each present a different challenge when the quarterback isn't the one getting the football. We've just got to be prepare for some oddball sets when it happens, and what we want to do, and then be able to play sound football. As a wrinkle, you have to prepare for that."
The top 100 Saints fan photos through the the team's bye week. Photos by Michael C. Hebert (New Orleans Saints photos)