New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, January 4, 2018
Looking at the Panthers, they've had some big wins and some tough losses. What would you explain for that up and down?
"They just won 11 games. I think despite injury, I think they've played real well. They play the Patriots on the road, they get a win. It's the NFL. I'd have a hard time saying they've been inconsistent. Obviously, we'd be the same way in our losses. We didn't play well enough last weekend. Early in the season we struggled and out in Los Angeles. I think part of it is injury. All of a sudden, you lose a couple key players like they have and then getting them back. If you study this team the last two months, which is what we're facing, they've done a real good job and kind of weathered some of the injury bugs."
The NFL as you mentioned is forever about the next man up, but the last three games what do you think you have been missing without Trey Hendrickson in the lineup while he has been sidelined?
"It's a combination. It's (the loss of Alex) Okafor. It's Hendrickson. It's a handful of those guys. Trey's one of those guys that plays with a high motor. He has some strength and flexibility to rush outside and inside. I think he had a real good training camp. Hopefully he's back for this game. I know that will help us and help in that rotation."
What are some of the coaching points to be able to handle the turnover due to injuries on the offensive line this season week after week and still be successful?
"One thing is having versatility at the tackle position. It's not often you have a guy like Andrus (Peat) that can be a guard but can go to tackle. We were fortunate to draft (Ryan) Ramczyk when we did and then that's really paid off. Because, when you start the season with (Zach) Strief and Terron (Armstead hurt) and then you're playing a good portion of your games with a rookie who has done a real good job. He's played over at left and played at right and Peat (who has played tackle). Having four (starting-caliber) tackles to start the season I think has allowed some of that flexibility."
What are some of the positive traits you see from Dan Roushar as being in charge of that group?
"He's a good teacher number one, that's first and foremost. I think he communicates well. I think he's passionate about what he does. He's been doing it a long time. He's doing a great job with those guys."
In terms of Luke Kuechly how can you see his intelligence on the field?
"You can see it in how he shades, how he stacks, how he aligns. You can see it in his communication. Clearly those are the same traits you saw when (Jonathan) Vilma was here all the time. Like you break the huddle and right away his eyes are focused where they need to be, strength call, alignment, then immediately if he has any indication to what he thinks (an offense might do, he makes adjustments). Especially when you watch the end zone copy (of tape), his awareness as to what might be happening, you would say one of the number one allies for good defensive football is formation, (and) play recognition. For example, every time they're in strong right slot, it's this, this or this. It's not everything. It's the process of quickly deducting and that's something he does very well."