New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, November 23, 2017
*What is the hallmark of a Wade Philips defense? *"I would say the coverage scheme would start with man principles. In other words, he does a good job of mixing up his single safety man defense (and) two-man. They play some quarters looks (that) they match. There aren't many spots where you are just sitting down. They do a real good job of matching their coverage to your personnel and contesting throws. I think over the years he's built it from a 3-4 front, played some variations from it. You're seeing even some tweaks this year. I think the technique (is sound). You don't see many mental errors. You see guys knowing what to do and doing it awfully well."
*What do you think has been Dennis Allen's greatest strength as a coordinator? *"I think he's organized. I think he has a good football mind. I think he's someone who's adjusted and adapted a little bit to what we feel like our strengths are, but I think we're teachers and ultimately it's how you communicate."
*How much does this Rams offense change without Robert Woods? *"Obviously he is a significant player in the offense. It's always hard to predict change relative to the next game. Others pick up their touches. That happens when a player goes down, but he's been having a fantastic year and has been a key target for them. Obviously, they'll rely on others and make up for his loss. I don't know that it changes (anything), in regards to what you're getting. Who's getting it (touches) changes."
*What have you seen out of Sammy Watkins compared to the beginning of his career in Buffalo? *"He's a guy that has tremendous speed and can get down the field and get behind you. There are a handful of things they are doing extremely well with him. I think Sean (McVay) and those guys on offense have had outstanding play design creativity. They're changing plays at the line, they are changing plays in the red zone trying to get to some advantageous looks and they are clearly on the same page and they do a good job with their tempo to allow themselves time to do that. I think he's found a niche there and a home there and I'm talking about Sammy."
Can you talk about the depth you guys have been able to develop defensively. You haven't had Nick Fairley, Delvin Breaux and you lost Alex Anzalone fairly early, but you have been in a real good groove and stretch defensively?"
I think we have had the right amount of veterans where we have been able to bring a few guys in during the offseason and certainly in the draft. Those younger players are all playing. When you have a draft (class), there is an uncertainty as to how quickly guys contribute. Fortunately some of these younger guys have played and are starting."
*Mickey Loomis was on Sirius/XM Radio the other evening and he was talking about some of the trials and tribulations of a year ago with injuries and struggles on defense to where your team is now. If you could put a finger on it, when did you know this rookie class would be this special? *"I mean they (the rookies) are playing good football. Let's not put them in Canton yet, but I think at some point during training camp you saw (Alvin) Kamara's skillset in the preseason, the run against San Diego (Chargers). He was catching the ball very well, but you saw him come on as a runner. I think with (Marshon) Lattimore he was healthy during camp and all of a sudden you started seeing the latter part of camp and the preseason the confidence coming. (Ryan) Ramczyk has been steady and we didn't have him during the OTAs and the rookie camp, but his rehab went well and he has a real sharp football mind and a demeanor that I think suits his positon. He has done a fantastic job handling both the left and the right side. I keep going with (Trey) Hendrickson. He's someone right away you saw some things that you felt would correlate with being able to play early. (Alex) Anzalone you mentioned. Al (Quadin) Muhammad is another guy. They have all showed some glimpses. Marcus Williams, right away you saw his ball skills in camp. He's smart and probably midway through camp (you saw growth), but they're (all) still learning and they're still growing and gaining confidence and I think the playing time helps them."
*What makes Todd Gurley difficult to defend? *"He is strong. I think he has tremendous balance and I think he has this burst through a hole that you saw on (his) college tape. Where he can hit it and crease you quickly. He's very comfortable catching the football and he can block the pressures. He checks these boxes and there's not one area where you say he can only catch checkdowns. He is a viable target in the passing game and an extremely explosive runner."
How do you think P.J. Williams has handled the adversity starting then going back to a backup role?
"I think it is pretty common early in your career. You're playing and then you're out with an injury and maybe someone steps in and plays well ahead of you. Fortunately, it's a position where you need four (or) five of these guys each weekend and you're going to count on at least three in your plan probably. I think that he's one of those younger players and I think he's a guy that has experience and understands our defense."