New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton - Conference Call With New Orleans Media - Sunday, November 25, 2018
Why do you think Ezekiel Elliott has been playing so well recently?
"I think he's a good player. He carries his pads well, has good vision, he's patient when he runs the football. I think the better question is why didn't he start as fast as (the level which) he's playing now. I think their line has played better in the last three weeks. Defensively, they've gotten takeaways. Their numbers in the last three weeks are impressive."
Does Amari Cooper add anything to that Dallas pass offense?
"Absolutely. Number one he's a real strong target, great route runner, detailed, former first round pick, a heck of a player that I think is going to fit in well to what they're doing. You saw that last week."
On the flip side, what has worked so well for your run defense this year that you've been able to do that consistently through the season?
"Generally, if you're playing good run defense it's all 11, getting everyone to the football. This will be a challenge this week with the way they run the ball and their ability to not only give it to (Ezekiel) Elliott, but their ability with the quarterback and some of the designed runs, so we'll have to be on point this week. Generally that means everyone's tackling. It can't just mean eight or ten and I think that's been the case."
Can you talk about what has helped to make it a plug and play situation for players filling in with injuries?
"We are constantly training and developing the roster. I think that's our job. It's the player's job to be ready if the opportunity comes up. Hopefully guys can get healthy, the guys that have been nicked up. That's kind of the nature of our game."
Dallas has the number four scoring defense in the NFL right now. What has contributed to that?
"They're playing extremely well. They run extremely well. Their front gets after the quarterback. I think that their back end is really good relative to their scheme and what they're doing. I think they're well-coached and I think that they're playing with real good passion. It's one of the better defenses we've seen on film."
How has Dan Arnold made that transition to tight end?
"He's doing well. In that room, he's someone that works hard every day. He has the size and some of the traits you are looking for, measurable. He's a tireless worker. It was good to see him have some success the other day. That's the kind of game that will help with his confidence."
Was that what you kind of saw from him when you made the decision to transition him from wide receiver to tight end?
"Yes, he was big for a receiver, yet he came in here and made a good impression, then he got injured He was basically on Reserve/Injured for the rest of that year and then into the offseason, continued to rehab. We felt moving him to tight end would allow him to keep his weight on and get a little stronger and we felt like he can make that switch. He's done a really good job that way."
What stands out on Leighton Vander Esch on film?
"Number one, he's a gifted athlete. Number two, he's real smart. All the things you look for relative to the position, he has those traits. He has length. He can run. He keys, diagnoses and does a great job with his eyes, recognizing plays. He's having a tremendous year."