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Quotes from Sean Payton's Thursday review

Sean Payton spoke with the media after practice on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, October 16, 2014

What has gone into Drew Brees only being sacked four times this year?

"There are a lot of things that go into it.  I think you start with the guys up front (offensive line).  I think the clock in his head; he (Drew Brees) is doing a good job of getting the ball out in rhythm.  I think it is just as important that the receivers are separating early.  That was one of the things in the offseason as well, is continuing that timing and the ability to change up protections occasionally, not just on first down but also on third down.  There are a handful of things and obviously that will be an important element in this game."

How much of a player's past do you know when they are coming in for a tryout?  And how do you balance when to take a chance on someone like him (Khiry Robinson)?

"Each player is different.  In his case, he came in as a free agent tryout.  We signed him then and then went through the spring.  There is no exact science but I think we treat each case separately.  We look closely at it.  The formula has been good for us."

Anything about his makeup or that you have seen in him that he has really been able to take advantage of?

"He has been absolutely fantastic, 100 percent focused.  He has been a good teammate and he's everything we would have hoped for and more both on and off the field."

If you are able to pick up another teams hand signals, is there an advantage?

"It's overrated. It is like the Brady Bunch when they had the playbook.  I think what isn't is the snap count, the timing, those are things now I would say in the last two years have become easier for defenses because look we can go to a file and pretty much get everyone's snap count because we are mic-ing the centers for the networks.  That information in the last two years has been a lot more readily available."

What have you seen from Golden Tate?

"He is explosive.  He has strong hands.  I would say he is very good transitionally.  He can move.  He has good feet.  You can see the way he likes to compete on film.  Sometimes that is harder to see but with him he enjoys playing.  You can see that on tape."

What have you seen from Joseph Morgan and how is he progressing?

"He is doing well.  One of the challenges that we have is depth right now.  Guys are healthy.  Both he and Nick (Toon) are young talented players that we like a lot and are both working out really good.  It has just been hard to find those game day spots."

Do you feel like maybe he could help you stretch the field?

"We would put him in if we felt that way.  We are trying to play the best guys."

Morgan did play earlier and more than Robert Meachem in that first game?

"He's (Joseph Morgan) a guy that I would say was here every day in the last 365 days. The (knee) injury he had was significant.  To his credit his rehab went outstanding.  He played a number of snaps in the Atlanta game.  He gives us a lot of that deep speed much like Robert does.  He is a good blocker.  At that time Kenny (Stills) was down and so it was just trying to manage the numbers.  We've had five receivers up before.  We've had four for the most part.  We will see how this week goes."

Has Robert Meachem been a big part of the run game success this year?

"I think for us to run the ball and to do it effectively in our league you are going to have to block the support, the secondary shell somehow.  If you're not blocking that well then the safeties are good enough in this league, the corners are good enough in this league to really minimize your game.  I think that has improved and yet it is still something that still needs to continue to improve."

Do you think that has been a big part of the success of this run game?

"I think it all goes hand-in-hand.  I think the guys up front are doing a good job.  We've been an emphasis in the offseason and certain type of schemes.  We carry it over week to week.  I think all of those things, I do not know that it is one of those things, but I think all of those things have been a reason or part of a reason (for the success)."

How challenging is Matt Stafford?

"He has exceptional arm strength.  He's a guy that is very confident and you can see that.  I think he is a good leader.  He gets rid of the ball.  He has good size, (and) good pocket awareness.  There are plays in each game that I have watched where he is flushed and all of a sudden he has gained four yards.  So he can run.  I do not know that you would start with saying that he's a scrambler but he has good athleticism and speed.  I think with Joe (Lombardi) there (as offensive coordinator) you can see the work that they put in the offseason.  You can see a lot of it on film."

How much can the defense build off the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay?

"I think it is important.  I think it is important because look, the number one thing we have to be is better than next week.  We don't have to be perfect but we have to be better the next week.  We are in a race, I've said this before, to improve and that is the one thing that coming off that game, this bye week that we are looking to do again this weekend."

Do you pay attention to what offenses are doing in the college game?

"I think that happens more now than it has.  It typically happens in the spring (more) than the winter when you're watching a lot of college film.  But it is very normal for us in season to not necessarily look at an opponent tape but possibly look at two or three offenses if we are on the offensive side of the ball, the same way defensively.  What is trending?  What appears to be something that might fit what we are doing?  Again, that, the statistics and the self-scouting, that is all readily available now.  You point to Baltimore Ravens, select defense and select third down, sort by down and distance and within a minute it is all right there on the screen, much like your music is.  We will do that a lot.  There will be a few teams that you look at and take a peek at and just quickly go through their game."

Is there anything in particular at the college level that stands out to you?

"You always see misdirection.  You'll see formationally ways to run plays.  We're getting a lot more spread (offenses).  We are seeing a lot more spread in high school and so you are starting to see variations of the pistol and all of those things.  Some of which may not be applicable and other things might be."

Is personnel really key with a lot of that stuff?

"The key is does it fit us or not?  In other words, there are some times where you see some things that are effective and it doesn't really fit what we are doing.  But every offseason you're going to see something.  Last year preparing for Philadelphia, I'm going to say it was a Wednesday or Thursday night that Alabama played Oklahoma here in the Sugar Bowl.  Probably about four or three days before we were playing the Eagles and Oklahoma ran some unbalanced short motion reverse.  That wasn't on college film that was on the TV.  We were working on the practice scripts for the next day it was about 9:00 when that happened and we were in a race to see how fast we could get that off the TV feed.  Sure enough we put it in and gained a yard against the Eagles.  That was the extent of that play."

How has the dynamic changed with Rafael Bush taking over for Jairus Byrd?

"Fortunately for us I think in Rafael's case, I think he's a good thinker on the field.  He has experience.  I'd say he's a savvy player.  He has good football awareness.  Now the communication that goes on between he and Kenny (Vaccaro) and the other players from the backend forward, I think that has gone well.  His experience and playing time even a year ago has helped."

When Jimmy Graham isn't able to practice or play when do you hope to get out of the receivers so the offense doesn't sputter?

"Obviously when a player like Jimmy (Graham) doesn't play then you are looking for first the tight end group Ben (Watson) and Josh (Hill) specifically and potentially other players that might fit in a similar role especially on third down or in the red zone.  Whether it is Marques (Colston), but my immediate answer would be well, against Tampa Bay in overtime, Ben (Watson) catches a basic cross in man-to-man in third and I want to say seven or eight, maybe even longer and obviously that would be a play had Jimmy been healthy that he would have been in on.  Our guys are prepared.  They are getting reps and ready to go.  Ben is someone that we have a ton of confidence in as well as Josh."

Can you talk about how Jimmy Graham has an impact on offense whether he is getting the ball in his hands or not?

"I would say the biggest impact when he is on the field is when they play man, in the base or in nickel, when they play man is it a safety that's going to cover him or is it a linebacker. And then what are the formations that can give you indicators where that is happening. I mentioned this after the Tampa game, after his injury I think we saw a higher dose of man coverage than prior to his injury."

Is he a big enough player where it takes multiple people to equal his production?

"I don't know. Listen, when you lose a player, and we are dealing with hypotheticals now, if a player like Calvin (Johnson) or a player like Jimmy (Graham) is unable to play of course there is a change. So the backup in either case is called upon and he's ready, and then others around him maybe pick up more touches depending on play design. I think that we are still optimistic with him."

What is your evaluation of Josh Hill in the run game?
"(He's a) good, young player that was an outstanding free agent find for us. He plays in special teams, can run, has good size and toughness, good blocker, he was an outstanding find. We took his measurables this year when we were evaluating the tight ends in this year's draft. We were looking at all of the numbers, and there is a set list of set, but his measurables were outstanding. He gets drafted if he's at the combine, I think, just based on how he ran, how he jumped, his movement skills, his ball skills. So to his credit he was worked really hard at the position and I feel like he is a good in-line blocker as well."

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