New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton
Conference call with media
Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021
Playing in a home-field advantage has been influential for this team in past years prior to 2020. How much do you look forward to it?
"Obviously, it's been a while, over a year. All last season you're not really playing with any type of fan base that's making any noise, so it's significant, especially when you have a venue like ours where many think it's one of the most difficult places to play. So when that is just all equal around the league, the teams that have the better home-field advantage lose out a little bit more. That's all."
Every year recently your special teams units has gotten hands on kicks and punts, what has the emphasis been there?
"None of that can happen without consistent effort. Are you willing to have that type of effort 14 times with no result, then on 15, receive a result. It can happen and only can happen if you're truly buying, trusting the technique and what's being coached. It's been a credit to those players and Darren (Rizzi) and Phil (Galiano). It's a snap, it's a play. It means something."
How valuable is it to have players like James Hurst around where they can come in and you don't lose much when they step in and play in games at various positions on the offensive line?
"Yes, his experience No. 1, but also his ability and flexibility. He's one of those guys that filled in at guard for us. He's played jumbo for us and he's someone that I think guys have a lot of confidence in and he's earned that."
How have you felt Calvin Throckmorton has played in the last few games?
"He's done well. He's played well. We've been encouraged and I think that from a consistency standpoint (that shows). No. 1, he's a real smart player. He's done a good job."
How do the passing numbers this year fit into maybe the team's philosophy in the past and your philosophy?
"It's what I told our team, when you start looking at someone's grade after one quiz and one homework assignment, that means obviously when you have a game like we had against Carolina, you're going to be able to ask me that question for the next eight weeks. It just is what it is. If you're looking at three game totals, obviously it's not the numbers, but I think more importantly it will (even out) down the stretch. I like how we're protecting the football, we've done a good job of understanding how to win football games two of these first three games and we'll go from there."
You've won two of those games with lower passing numbers, so it's not necessarily a criticism?
"We are in the business of winning. Honestly, it does not have to be aesthetically pleasing either and so it just truly is what it is. But if you have a game like you had against Carolina offensively, that is going to take eight, 10 weeks before you are into some normal numbers if you are even having normal numbers. What was important was the final drive in that game (New England), converting the third downs that we needed, the three takeaways. That was important. We ran the ball effectively, they (Patriots) didn't. That was important. We matched the intensity of the special teams, that was important. Honestly, when I get on the bus I'm not even thinking of how many yards we just threw for. I'm thinking about what were the keys for victory and one of them was, we have to be more effective running the ball than New England."
How does having Marshon Lattimore out there help what you can do defensively with things like pressures?
"He is one of our starters and at cornerback and is one of our really good players. There is a lot that goes into that. I think he led the defense in tackles last week. It's great to have him back."
How has Kenny Stills picked things up? Is there some carryover in terms of knowing the offense from 2013 and 2014?
"He's extremely, extremely smart, so I'm sure there's carryover and nuances that are different, but I think in day two, he had most of it and day three, all of it. It's good to see him getting some work and having some contribution last week. He's an extremely smart player and I think someone that we feel can help us."
With some of the injuries of players, suspension of David Onyemata, is it a matter of holding on with what you have before you can build a full long-term identity?
"You're building your identity each week. I don't think you're waiting to build it for guys to get healthy. This is our league, some teams are healthier than others, some teams aren't, some teams have players that are suspended, some teams don't and honestly no one cares. I say that relative to (for example) you are out of your city for a month. You have to play, you have to go out and perform and it's your job to do that, no side note (of excuses). The minute that you begin looking at it that way, you have created an excuse if you don't have success."