New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call With Local Media
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Did the trade with New England come up rather quickly or is it something that had been in the works for a while?
* *"I would say fairly quickly. We have been looking for some depth at the tight end position, and at the same time we felt like we had a handful of young defensive linemen. Having had a chance to practice with these guys, I am sure that both teams were familiar with the other player. It was really a matter (that was taken care of) over two and a half days."
Did the fact that Akiem (Hicks) was not content with his role, and giving him a change of scenery, did that play a factor in the trade?
* *"No, not at all. I spoke to Akiem yesterday and he has been fantastic as a teammate and as a guy that works. I mean that. We had good visits up in the office, talking about the position, the offseason and the weight that we wanted him at. He has been fantastic to coach. It was really a decision just based on the younger players that we were wanting to get more work with. I think it has a chance to be a real good fit for him, and vice versa. I think that that part of it was really the main focal point or the main reason for the trade. "
Did the development of any one of those guys in particular make this a little bit easier?
* *"Well, Bobby Richardson is one player that we feel like is beginning to get good snaps. Obviously, (Tyeler) Davison is a player that is getting more work at the nose (tackle position). You start adding it up, there are two or three of these players, (Kaleb) Eulls and (Ashaad) Mabry, that have all found a niche and a role. There was a little bit of depth there. We were able to get a tight end that we're familiar with and we understand the strengths and weakness he has, and kind of have a vision for how he will be used."
How did Drew (Brees) look yesterday and where do things stand now? Has anything changed today?
"He went through all of practice and did well. He threw the ball different than a week ago at this time. After Wednesday, I thought that his progress has been good. We'll keep evaluating it day-to-day. ."
Is there any way that you can elaborate more on the vision with the tight end (Michael Hoomanawanui)? I actually recall him when he played you guys in 2013, he was pretty productive that day.
"There are certain things that we do with Ben (Watson) and Josh (Hill), but we've never had (only) two tight ends on the roster for this point and time, so there is a little uneasiness with that in that if there is a nick during the game and all of a sudden, there is certain personnel groups, and you always have your jumbo packages and I understand that, but I feel like with Michael, there is some versatility that you see with him at the F. He is well-versed in blocking, whether it is pass protection (or run blocking). He is someone that gets comfortable in zone and has an idea of where and how to settle in zone. He has been in a real good passing offense. He is not a guy that you are going to put out there and isolate for the one-on-one matchups necessarily in man, but I do see him being a player that can handle the Y and the F role in our goal line or short yardage sets. I see him being able to handle snaps in some of our heavier sets. I know he is a good teammate. He is respected in the locker room. The vision is very clear."
How long do you think it takes to incorporate a player like that when you make a trade? Is it as simple as just bringing him in and expecting him to play this week?
"There are two things that factor into that – the position and then the player. When the trade took place, immediately you're looking for the first flight in. There was a flight that was leaving a half an hour from the time that we were on the phone talking, which was going to be impossible to make. He'll get in this morning and we'll have a chance to work with him on a limited basis today. (We'll do) some film study. I know that he is a quick learner. There is a chance that he'll be up this weekend. If not, clearly he'll be ready for next weekend. If you flip that around, maybe by the position, a defensive linemen might have one or two roles and it could be quicker. Generally, within a week."
I wanted to ask you about Marcus Murphy; from a coaching standpoint how do you balance his punt return for a touchdown with the muffed punt that he had right before?
"I think part of you has to trust your instinct in the evaluation. As a player coming out of college, his ball security was very good. Part of it is (that this is) the second or third game of his NFL career, and he mishandles one. You want to make sure that it is not a quicker or instant evaluation. You know that he just needs a shot of confidence. We say this all the time – confidence is born out of an action done on the field in a game when it counts and when it matters. I think that return touchdown the other day, for a young player, is something. You're trusting your gut to see it happen. It is no different from the quarterback early on who, in his first or second year is getting his first start, sails a few passes over the head or throws an interception. Aside from just working the fundamentals and technique of catching the football, part of it is calming down and saying 'listen, you do this, and not only do it but do it well.' That is kind of what went into the decision right after that happened. It was almost like you are mad and saying 'you have to do it again.' How many times do you get the second chance? Generally, you do pretty well when one golf shot is out of bounds and you get the second chance."
What are some of the things that you think Brandin Cooks does well on shorter, intermediate routes, and going over the middle?
"He is sudden. That's the first thing that comes to mind. He doesn't major in that, yet sometimes he'll operate inside just to get him off of one of their better players. Last week was a good example because of the matchup that we were getting. By bringing him inside, you can get him off of one of those corners that's covering him. Typically, I see him as an outside player, but his ability to change direction and get out of a break quickly help him separate."
How have you seen Stephone Anthony come along through the first three weeks?
"Well, there is a lot on his plate. He is handling it (with) his preparation and work ethic. There are a few plays that you look at. I think that from week-to-week the one thing that you see is that you don't see him repeating the same types of mistakes. I think he is progressing nicely. He had a good practice yesterday."
In the past you have relied on a bunch of explosive plays which have been a big part of the offense. Do you think that with the personnel that you have this year that the vision is a little different, and that is a reliant more on the intermediate throws and the yards after the catch?
"I hope not. We just finished talking about those numbers specifically. We're putting up (stats) after three games, and that kind of thing. You're going to have to have more explosive plays because the odds of just constantly having these 10-12 play drives (are low). You need to be efficient at doing that and yet there has got to be the ability to (have big plays), and it doesn't necessarily mean just in the passing game. They come in the running game as well. We've got to keep finding ways to give those plays opportunities, if you will. During the week we're thinking about not only how do we get the ball down the field but how do we get the back down the field. There are a few different things that go into that. Hopefully we can get better in that area."
How do you balance a sense of urgency with the record of this team, and yet keeping it light to where it is not total panic around the locker room, especially with the young group that you haven't had a lot of time with?
"It is not total panic. That wouldn't be a good description or comparison at all. There is a picture that was taken during the game last week, and the photo says everything. I saw the photo the next morning and it gets you fired up. We've got a good group that are grinding, preparing, and that gets you fired up to go to work. You see these guys and the expression on everyone's face, you go back and you look at that play in the coach's video, you see the bench and you know you're in your final drive. These guys understand that it is a business, they understand the importance of wins and losses. They also understand, most importantly, the process Wednesday through Friday, and preparing leading up to the game. I am pleased with how these guys are handling their job. We have to keep finding ways to not repeat things that keep you from winning."
(Hau'oli) Kikaha said after the game that with so many rookies, they haven't experienced a win in the NFL game just yet, and that they still have to learn how to win at this level. Is that something that you have addressed during the week?
"It doesn't come in a smoothie, a pill or anything like that. I think the first step, that we were just discussing, is certain things that keep you from winning. The other stuff will take care of itself."