New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Can you talk about Jalen Saunders and the punt return game?
"There was one two weeks ago I think maybe he had a chance to, but really we are kind of looking forward to that opportunity for the return. We haven't had number one a ton of opportunities and against Baltimore we got a couple directional (punts) towards the sidelines opposite the boundary so I think that, sooner rather than later we are going to have a chance to see him catch a punt. He is very comfortable I would say. His technique is real good. I think he has the things necessary, the explosion so hopefully we get a chance to see it this weekend."
Does Kenny Stills run any different routes or played any different positions in the wake of Brandin Cooks' injury?
"No he is pretty much playing the Z. He is playing some sub-X. I think Nick Toon probably has seen more snaps because of Brandin's (Cooks) injury."
The Saints have won 5-6 games that John Jenkins has started. How important is that the fact that the team is able to win when he has had to step up?
"I think just with regards to him, I think we received really good production last year we felt like from a first-year player. He has worked hard. We talked earlier about getting passed the injury this year. I do not know that anyone in the building would have been able to point to the statistic of when he has started games. But none the less I think that certainly he's a player that we feel like is, even when he wasn't officially running out the tunnel as a starter, he was playing a lot of snaps. He has handled that well."
When you are plugging in a defensive lineman, is it similar to plugging in an offensive lineman?
"Typically you would say, if you looked around the league, more than just for defensive lineman, there is generally a rotation because there are situations in what you want to do, run or pass, whereas in the offensive line it is not like on third down we bring in our pass protection. They are different in that way and yet having someone with experience that can step in and play but the difference being that he would every week be playing anywhere from 15 to 26 snaps in a rotation. Now all of a sudden his snaps are more because he is starting. The challenge for a young offensive lineman is you might not play weeks 1-5 and all of a sudden the next two weeks you are starting and here it is. So there is a little bit of a difference that way."
How rewarding it is to you that four of your five 2013 draft picks started last week?
"I think every team would feel this way, certainly we do, the draft is critical with the salary cap. Those players being able to come in and transition and play well and yet that being said they have to earn that right and earn that playing time. But that is significant. I'm not really paying attention to it. I think it is important because you are hopefully identifying players through the selection process that you think fit and obviously you are never 100 percent right. There are times where it doesn't work out but I think that's good."
Does it take that second year for it to come to fruition?
"Sometimes, it varies. Sometimes guys are able to come in and pick it up right away and be acclimated and sometimes the process might take longer. A lot of it depends on the player and the position."
Do you find the players are more prepared today than maybe in years past?
"I don't know. I think there are certain positions that are more apt to transition (quicker) into our league because of the style of play collegiately and then there are some other positions that may take longer because of the style of play. It is harder to evaluate some inside linebacker positions because a lot of times maybe what you are seeing is a lot of spread offenses and now you are trying to envision how he would take on a two back run or how he might handle, but I think that the pass protectors you are getting a quicker evaluation of. A lot of it is by position."
When you play a team twice are there certain things you caution against the second time or is the message pretty much the same?
"I think both teams know each other well starting with the personnel. In this case I would say that there's a handful of players that are starting that were not in the game a month ago or however long it was. But I also think when you watch the prior game more closely at man, we were fortunate here let's make sure we clean this up whether it is in coverage or whether it was a pass play where they might have had a sack where you were able to get the ball off. So there are a ton of things when you watch the tape on the prior game that you want to correct because you know that they can repeat themselves in this game. Philosophically I think no team is going to completely change from what they try to do with regards to scheme. There will be some wrinkles that come on third down or red zone and it is about playing fast and understanding defenses that we are seeing and understanding the offenses we are seeing and protecting the football."
Did you change anything in your philosophy for the number of times you are going to call the run?
"That is a good point because we had just come off the Green Bay game and I remember getting on the bus and us feeling like we rushed the ball for whatever the production was and yet those were hard earned yards (we gained). That is a credit to the front we are playing because this is a very talented group linebacker-wise, down linemen-wise but with that being said for us we felt like getting away completely from it even when we played some other teams that are strong at that unit I think that it helps the defense, the time of possession, keeping them off the field and then you do not know at what point all of a sudden some of those two or three yard gains in the second half have a little bit of attrition that takes place. We try to as best we can but then there are times where you get into a game and you are usually falling behind where you get a little bit more one dimensional. It is something that I have tried to do or pay attention to even this whole season, not necessarily just Carolina, just make sure that there is not a set number, it is more of making sure that there are some teeth to the play action passing game. I think it benefits those guys up front. It helps them in their pass protection."
And that is more this year than in years past?
"Not in years past, just one of the points of emphasis coming off of last season. I felt like last probably three or four weeks of last season that really occurred if you are looking at Carolina back at home here, the playoffs at Philly and even in Seattle. I felt like we started running the ball better, more efficiently and it carried over to a point of emphasis this year."
With Terron Armstead stepping up as a rookie last year, did that have anything to do with the improvement in the run game?
"I don't know that that changed for us rushing the football necessarily was him coming in. Certainly he has done a very good job but I think that we started having a little bit more balance and we started and certainly it starts with me giving those guys the opportunities. But we started having more balance and little bit more efficiency and I think that his immediate impact probably came more on pass protection and yet he is very athletic in the running game."
Is that something that has come more naturally to you as a play caller?
"Just going back to 2006 we ran the ball real well. Obviously we had Deuce (McAllister) and we had a handful of different running backs and the offensive line was different. In 2009 I think we ran the ball real well. A lot of it is just sensing how the game is unfolding and how your defense is playing and what you are trying to accomplish. But you certainly are in a little bit more control of the game when you are doing that."