New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Post-Practice Media Availability - Friday, September 7, 2018
How anxious or excited are you for the start of the regular season?
"I think naturally when it's week one of the regular season your players, coaches, you're excited to get going. You spend a lot of time covering all the little details – things that can come up in your first game. A lot of it are the things that are specific to this team we're playing in Tampa Bay. They look(ed) real good in the pre-season. Obviously, it's a divisional opponent, so both teams are familiar with each other's personnel for the most part, to some degree the scheme. It'll come down to the little things.
Most people noticed how great the offensive line was last year, but do you think offensive lines no matter what are sort of always underappreciated?
"The first thing for the fan is they follow the football and it's generally away from where the offensive line is playing. I think more and more with the coverage we have though and the in-depth coverage when you get to all the analysis that's done with television shows (line play is receiving more attention). I think when you start seeing a team have success offensively, it generally starts with that position group. I think it permeates your team really when you have a good offensive line. So we have experience returning, that's important. We'll play a good defensive front, so we'll have a good challenge on our hands."
Does it add anything to an opener when it's a division team as opposed to somebody else?
"Yes, to some degree. Someone asked me if it is worth double. I do not think – we have 16 games to play, certainly in the division (it counts significantly). I think the players compartmentalize. I know we do and we focus on this game. It's a divisional game, if it wasn't we focus on non-divisional game. Nonetheless, it's still an opportunity to get your first win."
Edge rusher was obviously a big priority for you guys this offseason too. Did you take a long look at the guys they ended up signing as well?
"Absolutely. The first step after the season's evaluating your own roster and then we get in to free agency. We discuss players that we think might come available and then you shift a little bit more to the draft. Those are some good football players, obviously, from New York (Jason Pierre-Paul) and Philadelphia (Vinny Curry). They have addressed their front and you can see it when you watch them play."
Is there ever any carryover from one year to the next good or bad, or is it just usually every year is it's own thing?
"I think so. There's too much change, schedules (are) different,(and) players are different. I think that it's a mistake if you feel ever like you're going to just pick up where you left off. Certainly, there's some experience now with players that maybe were in their first year last year. But nonetheless, it gets down to execution and paying attention to the little things."
Is chemistry for the slot receiver, is that even more important inside where there might be adjustments made than the outside?
"I think in general, when you talk about chemistry, timing, and the understanding of what you can expect within the framework of a route. It is critical at tight end, obviously. When you're playing inside, you're dealing with different coverage looks. Yes, I would say I don't know that it's that much more important than the timing you must have with the tight end or even a running back, but there are a lot of variables."
Have you done anything to prepare the younger players for the crowd noise?
"Yes, we've spent most of our defensive periods this week with the crowd noise. Typically, each week we are using it either when we are on offense because we are on the road, or when we're on defense at home. That's important for our fans. We need it to be deafening. And I thought as the year went on last year it got better. It got really good towards the end of the year, but hopefully we can start right from the get go Sunday."
Is that one thing where maybe there is carryover from last year, just the fans still being excited?
"I think our fans have always been passionate. We feel like we've got one of the best fan bases in football. It's unique relative to the region, when you look at all the SEC football played in this area. We're really the only team that gives us Mississippi, gives us Alabama, gives as part of Florida, Louisiana. So we feed off that and that's important."
Where is Cam Meredith in the transition process?
"He's doing well. He's doing real well. Healthy. He obviously missed some time at the beginning, but were excited with how he's moving."