New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
How do you think dealing with the crowd noise is going to be in Minnesota?
“I think anytime you go on the road especially in a playoff atmosphere in an indoor environment, I think it’s one of those challenges you have to work hard at all during the week, the focus both in the run game and the passing game, how you motion, when you choose to move guys around. It’s going to require the poise and attention to detail during the week.”
You guys haven’t had many false start penalties this year, I think you have the fewest in the league. Is there any other obvious discipline or focus? Is there any particular reason for that?
“That is a good question. One road game that was a neutral, when you think about London that was kind of a not too loud (environment). I think out in L.A., it is not a loud place. Some of the venues we play (aren’t as loud). But this will be the loudest, clearly the loudest environment we play in this year.”
Do you have to change your approach at all with a guy like Xavier Rhodes on their defense?
“When you say change your approach, I think what you have to do is look closely at your formations. You line a guy up way outside the numbers and he’s a tremendous corner. He’s someone that can get his hands on you. He’s real physical at the line of scrimmage, playing with a lot of confidence. I think you have to be smart when you’re throwing in that direction and you have to understand his leverage and what coverage they’re playing behind it.”
Your offensive line has been really good this year, proven to be really versatile but what were some of the struggles maybe in that first game obviously having to deal with (Zach) Strief’s injury and (Terron) Armstead not playing?
“When you fall behind and you get in that game where it’s a little bit more one-dimensional, that becomes hard especially there. I thought the other thing that hurt us is that we settled for field goals in some early drives, really much like Carolina did in this past game against us. We had scoring opportunities and weren’t able to take advantage of (them). Defensively and offensively, they did a ton of good things to beat us.”
Speaking of field goals, can you reflect a little bit on Wil Lutz and obviously he’s coming off making a good kick in this last game and his progression up until now from the time you got him?
“He is playing well. He is kicking well. We get to see more of it maybe than you do. The concern when you’re attempting a field goal at that length is two-fold, the flight is going to be different which means it is more prone for a block. And if you do not capitalize on it, the field position (becomes unfavorable). I thought he had some good hits last week in practice. We watch him kick each day. You can kind of see how the ball is taking off his foot. That was a great kick.”
They had Sam Bradford at quarterback last time now they have Case Keenum, what have you guys seen out of them in 15 games or so?
“He is playing well. You can see him getting the ball to a lot of different guys. These guys I think have done a great job on offense. I think they are playing a game really that suits both sides of the ball. When you start looking at their statistics, they are getting the ball down the field so they are getting their chuck plays. They are (ranked in the) top 10 in rushing. Scoring the same way. I think they have done a great job with play action. But the thing that is impressive about him, not only on the spot but off the spot, is his location when he is moving. We followed, it just seems like all we’ve seen prior to studying this week was Vikings tape because they had played the Falcons, they had played Carolina. We were just watching a lot of their tape over the last month and it has been impressive. Those guys have done a really good job and coaches have done a great job with them.”
What do you think of Kyle Rudolph?
“I think he’s a tremendous talent. I think he’s a big part of what they do. I think again, watching where this quarterback goes and how he targets players. I think he gives you someone through the defense. I think he’s someone that can get on a safety or linebacker and give you problems.”
Are he and (Greg) Olsen similar or different?
“I would say similar in that they are very important to their team. And yet there are some different styles to how they play.”
When you look at the Vikings defense, especially on third down, how have they been so successful defending on third down?“
I think a couple of things. Number one, you’re getting a real good pass rush so the time to throw is quicker. Number two, you have an extremely talented back end, the corners as well as the safeties. Then I would say a pressure package that causes you problems with linebackers up in the A-gaps, slot pressure, strong safety blitz. You start factoring those things in and then you take a good scheme with real good players, great players and then you end up with the number one defense in the league. In other words, Zim’s (Mike Zimmer) coached that package for a long time now and created havoc with people and now all of a sudden you have Pro Bowl safeties, Pro Bowl corners, you have a pass rush and it’s pretty much the formula when you talk about a great defense. It is the talent. It’s the coaching. All those facets.”
What kind of role does Harrison Smith play just in that defense?
“He’s everywhere. He’s a great tackler. He plays in the back end, back half, back quarter, middle third. He’ll play down. Those safeties are asked to do a lot.”
Did you get a chance to hear the song about your locker room dance, and if so what’d you think about it?
“No, I’ve heard just a snippet about it last night just about 1:30 a.m. when we were taking a break. I wasn’t able to hear it all. I was overwhelmed. (Zach) Strief named a beer after me (and I get) a song in the same two weeks.”
In what ways have you seen Marshon Lattimore grow since that first game?
“Just the playing reps, formations, technique. All the things a young player gets that can only get with experience. He’s receiving the chance to get out there and defend a reduced split, defend a wide split, defend a stack, a bunch, a motion to a stack, play cloud, play off. All those things that come with all the oddball formations in our league.”
What kind of challenge does this duo of receivers present?
“They’re talented. One’s (Adam Thielen) going to the Pro Bowl. The other guy (Stefon Diggs) takes the top coverage, he’s fantastic himself. They do a real good job of finding ways to get them open. The quarterback (Case Keenum) is playing real well.
I wanted to circle back to kickers and the psychology of kicking. How do you view Wil Lutz in that light?
“I think it is the same psychology you have if you are a receiver and corner or quarterback. You have to feel confident. Confidence comes from behavior demonstrated. You have to have that routine. Although it seems to focus around one swing. I think it’s that mentality you have to go out there and put a freaking arrow through them. I think sometimes that breaks guys. But I think in his case, it’s definitely an asset.”