New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Thursday, November 6, 2014
What do you think about the growth of their safety, Eric Reid, who played at LSU?
"It's been quick. He was a prospect everyone knew about and saw in a very good light. He's a great tackler, which is an important skill set if you play safety. But you see his range, you see his ball skills. So, no one can really predict how that first year goes but for him, I would say that he transitioned immediately and has been everything as advertised, and a real good selection."
Was he somebody you all considered?
"Absolutely. I'd have to go back, but we'd been to the workout – no different than (Odell) Beckham (Jr.) this year. You're close to that program and you have a great feel for the players there. Absolutely (he was considered)."
So it was like a 1A and 1B with him and Kenny (Vaccaro)?
"I'd have to go back and look at the order, but I just know this, that we had real high grades on him."
When you draft a player like Jahri Evans, what are your expectations of him and can a player exceed best-case scenario projections? And has he?
"One of the challenges with a smaller school is the level of competition. So there's got to be a few things that, hopefully, you see. You have to see him dominate. In other words, if we just put the tape on and we said, 'Try to find the player we're looking at.' All of us here would be able to identify, in a matter of a quarter, who that prospect would be. Now, to predict that he's going to come in and start his rookie year, to predict he's going to go on and become a (Pro Bowler and All-Pro), those are things that, obviously, if we knew then what we know now, he's selected in the first or second round. But I would say that it's really important to him and there's this other intangible that you can't put a measure on, and it's how competitive, how much drive a player has even when he's paid. And I think you check all those boxes with Jahri."
You often talk about seeing something on TV, a play, that you incorporated or you learned. Does that ever apply to coaching techniques, dealing with players, dealing with people?
"The flexibility of looking at things differently and not being set in your ways. You have to be up to speed with nutrition, up to speed with strength and conditioning, up to speed with leadership, up to speed with you know, and I think you are never really stopped in that process where it is final. I think it exists. Shoot I was on the phone with Bill Parcells today for a half an hour on two different topics. I think the teachers are the same way, that's what we are."
Sometimes do you feel like you need to be a psych major?
"No I think a lot of times if you trust your gut and I think it is no different in our profession if it is in other businesses in regards to management, delegating and accountability and all of those things for functional structure and organizational success. I think there are a lot of similarities."
How often do you have those chats with Bill Parcells?
"Pretty weekly yeah. His book is out. We could pull up some old press conferences. He enjoyed that process. He really did. He pays close attention to the game. There is a number of his ex-coaches that are scattered throughout the league, general managers, he has had a lot of hands on a lot of people's careers. But with him it would be quite often."
Would it be accurate that Kenny Stills took over the duties for Lance Moore?
"Certainly the playing time, it is always a challenge. We have depth at that position and trying to package receivers. Towards the latter part of Lance's (Moore) career he was getting a ton of the sub work. In the early part of Lance's career you saw him in the base. I would say there are some similarities. I think Lance is an exceptional route runner. He has real strong hands in traffic. He has great change in direction. He has a real good awareness of man and zone coverage. Those were things that rarely did he do something on the field that surprised the quarterback or his coaches. I think Kenny (Stills) has a lot of those attributes. And so now he's had a chance to really work behind Lance and with him and there are elements that are similar and yet there's other areas where maybe he's not in the same position."
Speaking to Kenny Stills, it seemed like it was under the impression that Coach and Drew Brees are asking him to be more like Lance Moore last year. Is that something that he has maybe taken on himself?
"The key is what we are asking him to do in each skill set. He's got similar attributes so if there is a play that is Lance's play because of the way he transitions, it probably would be a play we would run with Kenny. There would be some similarities there."
What does it say about LSU's job of recruiting to have all of these guys like Eric Reid?
"Outstanding. Les (Miles) and his staff, their tradition there, number one they've done a great job of putting a circle around this state: that has not always been the case, but there is a ton of football talent here, and that's not easy to do. That part of what they have to do in regards to recruiting I don't envy, because that's year-round now, the text messages, the internet, the commitments, the de-commitments, all of those things, those are challenging. But I would say every year we go up there with the pro day and you know the competition they are playing, you know the conference they're in, you know they're being coached extremely hard and very well, so these guys come in ready. Some of them are more successful than others, but it's obviously one of the places that you have to be at every year."
Corey White at one point said that he wasn't very comfortable in that outside cornerback and now he's feeling a lot more confident. Can you talk about the progress he has made?
"I think there is a growth. He's played, when you look at the snaps a year ago, more inside and yet he had to play a year ago due to some injuries. Then, as coaches, you become more and more familiar with what are the strengths and weaknesses and what do they do very well or what are the challenges and so I think that each week you are looking for those steps where you see the balls contested during the week. One of the big deals with any really, really good corner is, man, they prepare off the field; receiver splits, formation sets, and half the battle is anticipating based on film study, splits and route trees. It sounds pretty overwhelming and yet you can narrow down to this is what they run inside the numbers, this is what they run when they are single by themselves, this is what they run when they are the widest, and then you can begin to pare down what you are defending and that allows you to play better."
Can players, especially in that position, develop more getting that game experience?
"It's not just corner, but yeah. Listen, do corners grow as they play? Absolutely. Absolutely, because it's hard to simulate some of the stuff on the practice field, what you're seeing. So it's a process. Short memory, it's on to the next play, that's the nature of that position. Contesting the throws, understanding what the coverage is and how we're trying to play it, and hopefully we continue to grow in that way and improve."
Obviously confidence matters everywhere, but do you almost have to be supremely confident to play that position?
"Look, all sorts of temperament play that position. No different than the left tackle, who early in his career might be struggling, at some point you have to do it and it's only when you do it that you begin to feel to confident so they begin to go hand in hand. Quarterback. But that position, obviously, with one mistake the result is more glaring. The right guard's technique on a certain protection, it might be brought up by an announcer but a corner, if that's where the ball is going, it's easier to see for everyone watching."
What is the length of Joe Morgan's suspension?
"It's not season-ending, let's leave it at that."
Was it a team…
"We are just going to leave it at that. Yes, it's a team thing."
You've talked about the volume of film you have on an opponent, and what they have on you. As you get deeper into the season does the element of surprise go down and does the execution have to go up?
"The element of surprise comes with a special play, maybe. At the end of the day you have a bank of information, and with a staff like San Francisco, no different than us, there is not only this year but last year. There are a lot of things that you would say have carried over defensively, and offensively, and those are signs of a successful team. In other words, week to week these are some of the things. Now it's about how you want to formation them or how you want to disguise them, but I think the same thing would apply with us. Now it's understanding some of the nuances. Just because there is carryover in what they do and what we do, it's imperative to players that haven't been a part of either program understand that too. There are new players that weren't here last year, or 2012, or the 2011 playoff season. Making sure that you're paying attention to all of those situations, third down, redzone, your protections, all of that."