New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Have you seen continued progression from Kenny Stills?
"The first thing that's helped him is he's someone that picks things up quickly. With his skillset, he's a player that can run. It's important the way he's able to get out of cuts. For that first year, he was able to diagnose what we're doing in a pretty short period of time, I think helped him, especially Lance (Moore) and some of the veteran players he has been with. I would say those two things, he's really smart and has the skill set you're looking for."
Can you talk about the return of Khiry Robinson to practice and if his return impacts the playing time of Mark Ingram?
"There are two things. With the first game a player is back, you have to pay close attention to the snaps, but I do not envision it really changing what Mark's been able to do. There will be enough carries in the game and we will be smart about it. With Pierre (Thomas) back, it has helped us with some third downs. He gave us some real good snaps just in the base last week. We will put together a plan that suits those guys well."
Did Khiry have a surgical procedure?
"Yes, he's in a brace right now. Everything's good. He practiced today."
Obviously winning a game helps but what do you need to do to get away from the home struggles you had the last three games?
"I think it gets back to the road question. I think it gets back to playing good football whether you're home or on the road. I think that being able to do a lot of the little things we were able to do successfully last week was good. They understand the game plan so that when gameday comes around you can go 100 miles an hour. That's important. We'll be smart about the workweek in getting them ready to play with their best energy Sunday. Obviously they're playing for a lot."
Are you seeing toughness from this team because of all the adversity they faced earlier in the season?
"There is that mental toughness. This is a league that can humble you quickly and I think that each week you're getting ready to play an opponent and whether you play somebody whether it's away or home, you have to be prepared to play your best football game and if you don't do that, it really doesn't matter who you're playing. I think as we work through the season and get to where we are at now, there is a little bit of thickness in the skin, because you understand about things that don't go your way and looking at it on tape and easy things you can get corrected and you want to make sure it doesn't happen again, the same way as coaches."
You guys made decisions about Pierre Warren and Patrick Robinson going back in the starting lineup a couple weeks ago. Are you happy with those decisions?
"Yes, those guys are doing well. Patrick had one of his better games of the year last week. Pierre, he's now two games in. He's still digesting and getting comfortable with that position. I think there are a lot of things for him with regards to cleaning up and getting better. Nonetheless, the reps are working and you try to get as many looks as you can out on the field, as well as (continuing) preparation."
Psychologically have you seen improvement from Patrick Robinson based on that he had a career-high five passes defensed?
"He played well. I've said it before that at that position, you have to be mentally tough. The very best of players are there. You have matchups each week and you get balls completed. You just have to get back up off the mat and keep competing. He's worked too hard to not respond that way. That's the one thing about him, his offseason and what he's had to overcome. I think that's served him well."
In moving Corey White back inside what have you seen there?
"He's a good tackler. He's played quite a bit for us last year and this year. We have some flexibility there with both he and Patrick"
You talked about how much you liked Luke Kuechly last year. Have you seen him continue to grow?
"They have two guys, that whether they're in base or not, he and (Thomas) Davis is another real good player who is an explosive tackler. The one thing you see with Luke game in and game out, you put the tape on and regardless of who's winning or who's losing, he's something to watch. His leverage is in the right position. Half the plays that are run, he knows the play before it's snapped because of his film study, so it's important to pay attention to splits and pay attention to back alignments so that he's not anticipating things that you're doing, because he has that ability to key and diagnose very quickly."
Do you balance in tape study the game Carolina played against you to their games after that?
"We factor it in. We see the cut ups and see the reports in regards to the analysis and there are some other things you can get. The other thing that you factor in just like with us are personnel changes from the last game and there have really been quite a few for both teams."
Do you think that other teams will be hesitant to use so many resources to stop Jimmy Graham after you adjusted to that strategy at Pittsburgh?
"I think that each week it starts with whether the team's a man team or zone team in principle. I think his attention and last week was an example, his attention week to week remains the same. Getting off the ball there's going to be people even with the defensive end that's in charge of pass rush, when splits tighten up he's going to try to reroute. It's nothing new for Jimmy. The way the progression unfolded last week it's been unusual that he goes through a game and doesn't have a touch, but then these other players are able to have the success. So, I think he understands that, we do too and we'll keep messing around with formations, things that give him a chance to get open in zone or man."
Along that line, have you been encouraged by the way you have been able to spread it around the last couple of weeks?
"It's always been something that when we've been functioning well on offense, it's always been something that has been pretty consistent. It's been a lot of different players. Running backs (are) involved. Drew (Brees) does an excellent job of getting through the progression, (and) getting it to the right player. It's always been something pretty consistent when we're playing well on offense."
Why do you think Cam Newton has struggled to match his earlier production?
"One position a lot always falls on is the QB and if you're playing well on defense and running the football those are two really good allies for the quarterback positon and his production. It can vary week to week. I'm not really specific in regards to each game. I still see a player that obviously has a strong arm, does a real good job of putting (teams) in some tough positions defensively with some of the read option or some of the things you have to defend that you go eight weeks without having to defend and then it's completely different. Their scheme is very good. With (Mike) Tolbert back in the lineup, it gives physicality, a presence. He's always been somebody we felt was a real good player, not only as a blocker and as a receiver, but as someone they use carrying the football."
Has your defense gotten better at anticipating the read option in the last three years?
"You pay more attention to it, but you turn a game on and you'll see someone having success with it. I think it depends on who's running it and who's defending it, but it stresses the defense in a different way."
Do you think it's here to stay or like so many other different offenses, goes in and out?
"I think what's here to stay is obviously the importance of running the football and playing good defense. At some point on third down, you're going to have to be able to complete balls in a pocket at a higher efficiency rate. I'm sure there are elements of it that we'll continue to see different versions of it. It just depends on the team and their goal with it."
Is it more centered around personnel than anything else?
"You see snaps of guys that haven't had that experience. Sometimes the question is are they reading it or just handing it off. It's hard to tell. I think what Cam's (Newton) looking to do and what they're looking to do, you know this, and he certainly is a threat with regards to quarterback runs. We've seen it in the red zone. We've seen it in short yardage. That consistently comes up when you watch the cut-ups. You also have to look out for his ability to run and tackling him is no easy task. He's somebody that where he gets that leaky yardage, what looks like a two-yard run ends up being five. He has that ability."
What's the key to finishing strong down the stretch?
"It starts with this game. You want to build on the way we played this week. That very topic was this morning's highlight and it was the details of everything we do. I think that as we hit this final four game stretch, paying attention to details, correcting mistakes, film study, it's all the little things I think that go into the overall success."
So the December formula is no different than the September formula?
"The only difference is the past experience you had. It's still the little things. Obviously with players that are playing in December, a lot of them weren't playing in December. It's making sure that there's that painstaking detail to every assignment and making sure we know our opponent every week. That's this week's focus, making sure we do all the little things well."