New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
How much does playoff experience matter? Do you feel that the experience of someone like Drew Brees, makes up for the overall youth of your team?
"I think playing in big games matter. The experience of doing that, a lot of these younger players kind of played in this BCS series, it is that same type of environment. Certainly Carolina has a team with a lot of experience with just two years ago being in the Super Bowl and I think we have a handful of players (with playoff experience). But I think it can be a factor and yet I think the preparation and the attention to detail, those type of things are most significant."
You have nine players from the 2013 playoff team? Can you talk about changing up the roster continually and having a mix?
"It happens with intention in the offseason where there's turnover and teams change from year to year, you guys know that. It's moreso now that ever. Then what's also interesting is to track in-season change, in-season roster change as a player goes to IR another player comes up and another player goes to IR, another player comes up. And the practice squad. There's a moving unit there and if you just said 'hey it's 53 roster and it's 11 practice squad because we receive the exemption with the London game and the London player (Alex Jenkins). And then you started at the beginning of the year and you actually charted week by week the 53 and then week by week that practice squad, you begin to see that the numbers would be more in the 70's or 80's on the active at one point or another and the practice squad'. I think that's somewhat common and even leading up to this playoff game. Everyone's listening thinking do I want to take on that project (laughter)."
With all the turnover on defense the last few years, how do you weight the benefits of getting guys who haven't gone through the struggles with the negative of having to get new players up to speed?
"That's a good question because we discuss that probably a lot. The player in the building or the player outside the building and that's the comparison a lot of times. Is he in here on our practice squad or is he not in here? Can he help in the kicking game? That would be a pretty typical Monday or Tuesday discussion with some roster spots."
With the knowledge of Carolina, do you have to keep guard of them doing some things differently the third time around?
"I know we know as a staff as we're watching film and particularly watching film of ourselves, I know every bit of film and every hour we spend watching film, Luke Kuechly's watching the same film as diligently. You have to have plays that begin looking like something you've done, and that are something different (at the same time). In other words, if you line up in a similar formation two or three times, even in a game, he's that in-tune and is such a good communicator to (Thomas) Davis and to Shaq (Thompson), he'll yawn at some of your formations if you don't create some disguise and backfield depth. Every iota of your formation has to be looked at clearly, so that he's not leaning one direction or another."
How does prior experience of players help in the preparation of the coaching staff?
"You lean on some of your experience. You lean on your leaders. We're routine-driven so we got assigned a Sunday game, it's an afternoon game. Players are in here today on Wednesday and it's that time of the year where things elevate. The sense of urgency, the clock's ticking, here we go and yet there are parts to what you've done that remain, (and you) keep intact. But I think once the flow of the game gets started you understand that the prior two games really have no meaning on this one. This starts a different (game). The teams are different. Both teams are different than they were in the prior two games."
How significant an addition for this game for Carolina is Greg Olsen who didn't play in the Week 13 game?
"You're talking about one of the better tight ends in the game. Not having him is significant and having him is huge. I think he's smart. He's tough. He blocks for the run. He enjoys competing and quite honestly, he does so many little things well in regards to zone or man that (on) third down or red zone, pick a situation, it's just significant."
Now being in the playoffs are there any traits of Alvin Kamara that remind you of some others in your offensive systems?
"That is a good question. He runs so differently than some of the others that I have coached. He is unique that way. His feet really do not leave the ground. He has some patience to his decision-making. He has this deceptive quickness when he hits a hole. I cannot say that there's someone that comes to mind when it comes to his running style. Even the kick return is set up in a way and blocked very well. Mike (Westhoff) and those guys have done a nice job and when he hits it at the right time, mind you that official on the sideline is running just as fast as him and I made sure he heard that from me when you were feeling pretty good, there's a sideline judge right there that look like he was gaining on you. But I think it is a fluid motion that there is not a lot of wasted movement. I don't know that I can recall. You might have to give me a few days here.
Drew said that his balance was similar to Pierre Thomas and explosion similar to Reggie Bush? Is that fair?
"No, it's different. There is an explosive element to it. I understand that Pierre was hard to knock off his feet. There's a run at Carolina that if you can get to the coaches end zone copy he scores late in the fourth and I'm talking about Alvin now. Look at the coaches tape. Look at the end zone version of the coaches tape. When you watch him get hit in the end zone, it shuts off and you can't tell if he went down or not. Then you go back to the wide angle and watch it because you think that there's no way that he's not knocked over and he finds a way to keep his balance. Pierre had good vision that way. But they're just two different players here. Three different players really."
In your opinion is Alvin Kamara the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year?
"Number one, my opinion doesn't matter when it comes to the awards. I certainly think he's made a case with his game. I couldn't tell you who the competition is even. I know there's a bunch of good, young rookies in this class. I'm glad we got the ones we got. That'll all take care of itself."