New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
*What can George Johnson bring you guys now that you have him on the roster? *"We think he's a veteran player that can play the run and the pass. He gives us some depth in a rotation there. We worked him out here I want to say three weeks ago, maybe a little further back than that, but we are familiar with the player and we have a pretty clear vision for how we want to use him."
You've talked about Michael Thomas*' competitiveness and his work ethic, how else has he evolved as a second-year player? *"Just formational, where he goes has expanded and then I would say the volume, with regards to what he does when he goes there. In his first year, we tried to get him set at one position and move him around some, but he's someone that I think has gotten better in that area and we have to keep finding ways to target him. He's been really productive not only with the catch and the catch point, but after the catch."
*Is he a guy who excels in one-on-one and man-to-man situations? *"I think so. He has stature and size. He's strong at the line of scrimmage. There's a lot of traits that he has, that when you talk about man-to-man technique make it something that he's comfortable with."
With some of the stuff Terron Armstead*'s fought through to play, what does it say to him and his toughness? *Looking at the offseason, the amount of time he spends on recovery, whether it's strengthening the upper body or lower body, whether it was the shoulder (injury) he was recovering from, he loves playing. It's extremely, extremely important to him and I think ultimately that respect of the locker room is important to every player and that clearly he'd be one of our leaders in that area."
Michael Mauti is your team's Ed Block Courage Award winner this year. Can you give us your thoughts on him and his comeback?"It's been remarkable. I think it's the only time a player's had a condition he's had, with three offseason surgeries to come back and play. When you look at before and after photos of his weight and where he was at, it's a credit to him. When he went through (the surgeries and recovery), this whole offseason periodically I'd receive an update and a photo and then in the summer, workout videos. He was relentless. It's the way he's approached life. In my time here, we have had a lot of great candidates or guys who have won that award certainly. Mike joins a list of those players. I cannot recall anyone who had as many votes that he did amongst the total percentage. It was overwhelming."
*What challenges are you guys seeing from the Jets? *"Number one, they have a real strong front. They do a real good job of tackling. I think they're long (defensive line). Pressuring the quarterback, you receive some different pressure looks. The two young safeties are playing exceptionally well. Offensively, Johnny's (Morton) done a great job there. They're a patient offense and yet they'll take their shots down the field. They are extremely well-coached. I've known Todd (Bowles) for years and I think when you watch each game they've played this year, they are a much different team than many of the pundits thought they were. That's to their credit."
*Referencing John Morton there, how many similarities do you see to the offense here to what they are doing? *"We were all together, so we were learning from each other. I think there's certain things we'll see on film that we'll call out (things he's running). But like any good coordinator, you adapt a little bit to the personnel you specifically have there. His personnel, anywhere you go, is different from where you came from. Johnny thinks that way. I think they have gotten the ball down the field and had some success and big wins. I think a lot of it is shaped around the people in their building"
*The Jets are turning to Bryce Petty following Josh McCown suffering a season-ending hand injury. What are the challenges of facing a guy who hasn't seen a lot of regular season experience and what tape do you go to, preparing for him? *"The tape's there. The games he's played in, the preseason (games), any of the games he's played in our league. The college tape's there. Obviously you don't have the same vocabulary you may have with another player. He's athletic. He can run when the pocket breaks down. He can scramble and flush and make yards with his feet. He can beat you with his arm when he scrambles, but we have to study what we do have and pay attention to the situations as an offense as they handle third down, red zone or those types of things."
Drew Brees is on pace to set the record again for completion percentage. What have you seen that's allowed him to have that?"I would say the commitment to the details and what we do each week. That's been something that hasn't changed since he's been here. He's taken care of himself, his preparation and all of the above. Maybe complement that with our ability to be a little bit more balanced."
*There was a question about Michael Thomas earlier, but he's on pace to become only the second guy to have 90 catches in each of his first two seasons, can you talk about that? *"He's picked it up quick and he's working hard. At this stage of the season to be honest with you, we're paying attention to what our team's on pace to do, not what Drew or Mike or Cam (Jordan)…All of those things come with success and certainly we're going to lean on all of these guys in their own way. Mike's done a real good job handling information, the variations we've talked about. He's an impactful player, but I think that the focal point as we get ready to play this Jets team is working on this win, this game."