New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Post-Practice Media Availability - Friday, September 21, 2018
*What did you see from P.J. Williams this summer? *
"He had a good camp. We feel like we are deeper at that position than we have been in maybe the last two or three years. So he is doing well. That group in general has experience. Not only experience, but they've played well."
What does Matt Ryan do well to avoid the pass rush?
"First off, they do a great job of changing the launch point. So it's not always a dropback pass, they really extend some of their play actions to where he's way outside the pocket and much deeper. He has a quick release. And I also think his experience lends himself to be able to see a defense, know what's being taken away and when he is protected. So knowing where to go quickly, which the elite quarterbacks have that ability to do, he throws it quick. They do a good job of mixing their intermediate routes, quick down the field routes. So you have to defend a handful of launch points and then the timing and tempo of the route can change."
A lot of quarterbacks will change positions right when they come into the league, but how unique is it that Taysom Hill's transition has happened after he was already in the league?
"It is unusual. 'A', we were able to get him with a (waiver) claim (from Green Bay) and then his skillset is unique. It's not the first time and yet it's not often. He's smart and he's embraced the role. He has a handful of things on his plate that he's involved in."
Has the road game preparation changed for you over the years?
"Good question. I imagine there have been subtle changes and (it's) hard for me to then pinpoint one specific (change). Obviously, the first road game to this team dealing with the crowd noise for some of the newer players or our younger players, your snap count is different. And I think understanding the momentum swings that can take place when you are on the road (is important). And how you have to play a game sometimes differently than you normally would. As far as the travel, the difference in the preseason of course is all those games were night games. So it is 12:00 noon our time (kickoff), (a) 1:00 Eastern time game. We will leave tomorrow after a walkthrough. But I think most importantly it's the communication. And so the challenges our defense has had maybe at home shift over to the offensive side of the ball."
What kind of advantages do you guys get on offense when Michael Thomas moves into the slot?
"I think in some cases you can get more access. In other words, depending on if you are getting man or zone. More than anything you are trying to minimize predictability. He plays 'X' and yet for him to show up over on the strongside, or show up in the slot can offset some of the tendencies maybe of him always being in one spot. So, as he's become more and more adept to what we're doing, his route tree has expanded because there are certain routes in the slot that you might run that you wouldn't run out wide. So the route variables. And then also what you're trying to do versus a certain coverage. Those would be some specific ones."
You have been a part of some other rivalries in the league in the NFC East, what makes this one different?
"I don't know. I've said this before, I feel like in the divisions the way they're set up now with four teams per division, I feel it kind of exists within the division. Whether it's Carolina, Atlanta, or Tampa Bay. I think regionally, we're two teams in the southern part of the country. These two teams have played in this division even when it wasn't this division (in the NFC West together from 1970-2001). So there's a longer history of playing twice a year maybe than a couple of the other teams. But that being said, it's a division game and yet it's still worth a unit. It's important to look at every one of these opportunities and understand the significance of starting well and getting a chance to get another win.
How impressive is it that Julio Jones can be a factor on every single drive?
"He's one of the elite players in our league. There are times when defensively you're trying to take him away and sometimes, what happened to Michael Thomas last week with the safety over the top and their man coverage schemes you're counting on some other guys to step up. He is strong. He can run. He is smart. You get him in some different positions. He too plays the X, but you will see him in the slot. You will see him inside of trips. He's an explosive player with a real big catch radius. He's a handful."
Is there a reason that Matt Ryan can go to him repeatedly and have success?
"Yes, look at it if you are in zone coverage that can happen in a lot of times in two-minute situations. That maybe the coverage and there (are) other times if you're in man and he's isolated by himself. So I think it's a confidence level. They have played together for quite a while and he's a big part of their offense."
You mentioned yesterday how the four man fronts are kind of the defensive identities of the division. Does that impact how the offenses play, when all of the defenses come from the 4-3?
"I don't know. I think it is a cyclical and there is times where you might have a division that has a little bit more of a 3-4 flavor to it. There's so much nickel played in our game today that you're going to see a lot of even spacing regardless of whether you're in the division or out of the division. I think that when you asked what some of the trademarks were, I tried to think for a little bit. I think the receivers are big in this division. I think we have had some good defenses. It's been a real competitive division relative to playoffs. Last year, three teams were in (the playoffs). Atlanta was in the Super Bowl recently. Carolina before that (in the) Super Bowl. The personnel is strong in this division and I think if you pick a game, each one of them is tough. Last week, Atlanta vs. Carolina, that's a heated game that was awfully physical and very competitive. Each week, it's a situation where you're going to have to play well especially on the road, to win."
Why is nickel so often a four-man front?
"It is not always. A lot of your even fronts and your traditional nickel look set up in a way where it's nickel and you can deploy a nickel and defend the run and you can get into your nickel defense and defend the pass. You get some odd structure generally, as you get into some of the third down looks. But that can change. So if it's first and ten and nickel, you are going to get these three or four things from each team. It might vary. If it is second or third down, it might be a little different. It might be a nickel package or even a dime package and yet depending on the down and distance, what they are trying to take away can change."
Where there anything Atlanta did to take away Alvin's (Kamara) explosiveness last year in one game basically since he missed most of the first game?
"I think that was just one of those unique plays, on a screen pass where he got dinged (concussion in the first game) and was not able to play and unfortunately that was the first series of the game. They account for him. Sometimes, he will draw nickel (coverage) if we are in a pony (formation) with two backs. If you look at the Carolina film, you can see some of that same defense vs. (Christian) McCaffrey and what they want to do. He will draw Ricardo Allen I am sure at some point in man to man in this game, but no nothing specific. These guys will play their three-deep zone but they'll play quite a bit of management as well."
Do you get a lot of different looks with Alvin?
"Yes. A lot of it depends on who Alvin's in the game with. If Alvin's in the game with three receivers and a tight end, then you get a handful of things. But if he's in the game with another halfback then he's essentially taking over the nickel receiver position. That does not mean he cannot be in the backfield. It just depends on who is on the field with him."