New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Monday, October 11, 2021
How did you feel about the win after watching the tape?
"I felt good. I mentioned after the game from an offensive perspective, they got into some heavy fronts, they played a lot of man to man. It wasn't going to be a zone game. Generally speaking, when that happens, you're one going to hit some big plays and that's exactly what happened. They played a few snaps of some single safety, three deep, for under match or some quarters. But for the most part, we received a lot of heavy fronts. We thought that would be the case, especially with the injury at linebacker and then, defensively we knew containing their quarterback and some of the RPOs they give him (Taylor Heinicke) were going to be the key. So obviously, in the kicking game, Blake (Gillikin) was outstanding. It was a good win, a good road win."
How limited was your play calling after Taysom Hill and Deonte Harris both left the game?
"There are some plays, when you have an injury to a player, there are some plays that you're just not going to call because it might have been just the focal point of that player. And then there's a good portion of your offense where Deonte's backup, whether it's Kenny Stills, or one of the other receivers is learning that package. The tight ends are the Fs are learning some of the stuff Taysom is doing. But there are a few plays that you just take a sharpie through."
What was the sort of plan behind Bradley Roby's and Paulson Adebo's usage at cornerback yesterday?
"We felt when we traded for him he was going to be a good addition for us. How do we get him on the field? And obviously, Paulson's (Adebo) playing well, but it's a good challenge for us to sort out defensively. Keep those guys actively involved in not only the base defense, but other personnel packages."
Was there a specific plan for Bradley Roby?
"I know DA (Dennis Allen) and I were talking with him that there were some situations, where we wanted to see him and I'm sure we'll continue to be smart in how we use all those guys. Paulson's been playing well and at the start of the season, it was a position that we were not concerned with, but from a depth standpoint, it was something that we felt we needed to address and I think the good news is we have."
Have you been able to see or talk with Taysom Hill today?
"Yeah, we won't cover any injuries. I think that's where you're going. He's doing well."
When you say you have to take a sharpie to it was that a high percentage of plays where you just couldn't call it?
"I think probably there's seven or eight plays, there's a handful of the quarterback run/slash/pass packages that we would carry each week with Taysom (Hill). And there were two or three plays that Deonte (Harris) had gotten to work on during the week. Those are the ones that came to mind right away."
Where do you stand with your kicker situation right now?
"That's a good question, a fair question. Hopefully Wil (Lutz) is close to getting back and I think he is. In the meantime, we'll make sure we evaluate each of our options and all of our options. And the good news is we have an additional week to do that."
How do you evaluate Pete Werner's process as a rookie?
"He's doing well, he's smart, has good instincts. There's things that come up in a game that maybe that he hadn't seen as much as at the college game. But he's one of those guys that functionally can correct a mistake and then not let it repeat and it's good to see his progress."
How do you balance putting Alvin Kamara as a punt returner, while also making sure to limit the hits he takes?
"Yeah, I think it's your instincts and your gut relative to how that game is going and I think that we've utilized Alvin as a kick returner before with success, as a punt returner before (as well). But all that being said, it's the bigger number, last week, we didn't throw him a pass, the sky was falling, but you're still looking at overall just how's he handling the football? Obviously yesterday he was tremendously impactful with what he was doing. And I was very comfortable with him returning punts."
What's the schedule like now for you all the next over the next week or so?
"Well, there's three or four different groups. Players, the injured players will be here receiving rehab (and) recovery, we'll do some self-scout as a staff. The non-vaccinated players, which are few, will stay right here. And the other players will have a good majority of this week (off). Obviously, we have an additional day because we don't play until the following Monday night. So it's jumping ahead on Seattle looking at ourselves and then really spending a lot of time with these guys that are in recovery and rehab and hopefully getting a number of the starters back in the next game or two."
Did you get a chance to see Dan Campbell's reaction to another tough last yesterday to the Vikings?
"Yeah, I did."
What is it about him that, obviously, this means a lot to every coach, but is that him wearing his emotions on his sleeve?
"I think it's that and then shoot, they lost a game with no time left on the longest field goal in the history of the NFL that hit the crossbar and bounced over. They've lost some tough games and one of the challenges when you're a first time coach is you implement a certain way of doing things and early on whenever there's change, there's an initial buy in and I'm sure he and all of those guys feel a little bit frustrated. But there's never been a more competitive, more caring person. And I just had the good fortune of being around him for the most part of his career, both as a player and as a coach.
Have you reached out to him lately?
"Listen, yeah, nothing for an article. But yeah, he and I, he's someone that I stay in touch with."
Adam Trautman's role feels like it has been heavily blocking the first few weeks. Is that a product of some of the injuries to offense and playing more conservative in nature? Is that something that needs to be expanding? Obviously, he had a big play and a couple of nice catches yesterday.
"Yeah, look, the tight end is someone who blocks and catches and so we have to continue to find opportunities for him. Certainly both in the passing game and finding those situations where he is blocking is obviously much easier. But he is playing well. He had a good choice route yesterday. Good release, and he has pretty good football savvy, and I think that goes a long way."
You talk all the time about the game, there not being like an imperfect pocket in the NFL anymore, at least very rarely. Is there a skill to negotiating the pocket, the muddiness of it or is that just instinctive? Can you coach it?
"I think it's both. I think you can improve on that. It's not like, ah, because the pocket does move a little. You're referencing I know Andrus (Peat's) play where we kind of get stepped as we're throwing it, you'd like not to have as much push, me the coach would like to have him in the right shoes so he's not slipping there. A ton of things go on with each play, but to your question, that the pocket's ever changing in our league, in other words throughout the course of the game, and you have to be able to negotiate it, climb it, feel it. Those two players last night were good examples when you just watch the game, how much subtle movement. I'm not talking about flushing outside of it, I'm just talking about within it. I think that's something that is necessary."
What goes into deciding when a cornerback like Marshon (Lattimore) is going to shadow a guy? I mean, is it when it's distinctive that one receiver is a more dangerous threat than the others?
"I think it's a good start. And then I think oftentimes it's the type of receiver as well that goes into it. Marshon's got great length. He certainly is up for any challenge. So it is targets, but it's also stature and then where we see that receiver aligning."
Then in general, Marshon (Lattimore) has done great things. You guys gave him a big contract extension at the beginning of the year. He didn't really have a ton to prove to you, but has he really impressed you with how well he's playing this season, locked in early this season?
"Look, I think he had a good game. I think it was a big part of our win. There were a number of things, but he had one of his better games this year obviously in seeing the production he had on the ball."
The Washington defenders said you all quick snapped them on that long ball to Deonte Harris. Is that a pre-snap thing? Is that something Jameis (Winston) sees and how does that play out?
"No, we go into the third down meetings, and look, we'll have a few plays maybe where we'll will run a second down play and then go back on the ball. And then we'll have a few plays that we want to run with a super-fast cadence. And that was one of those super-fast like just, it's sometimes beats crowd noise, Jeff (Duncan), and then other times, it's hard to do. It's hard to do that with receivers and wide splits. Sometimes it's driven by the type of formation you're in and so you'll have a tag where everyone knows when you break the huddle, this thing's going to be like, boom, it's gone. It can catch a defense where the pressure comes late if their pressuring which they were on that play. Guys have to quickly get into their coverage. There's no disguise. So when you're playing on the road, you just sit up there in trips or doubles and you go through your cadence, you let the crowd cheer, you let the defense (get set). It's a changeup to any and all of that."
Alvin Kamara was explaining the Hail Mary last night and unless we misheard him, he said something like us, 'if you ask Sean, he would explain that it was right on the sidewalk?' Is that the term he used?
"Yeah. So if you took the numbers, you see the numbers painted on the field, and if you pretend the numbers just continued into the end zone, that is the sidewalk. And there is a lot that goes into - obviously you need to have fortune to throw one up in the air and catch it. But it is not random - go down there, just get open you know. And so there are a series of things that have to take place. If they press the point receiver, which they did on that play, then we switch the release. Those three travel knowing that the ball is going to land in a perfect world on the sidewalk in the end zone. So that would be the numbers if you look at the tape is if they continued into the end zone the split end receiver, Marquez (Callaway) is going to join the group. There are four locations and the most important part of a hail mary's when the eyes begin to turn back and locate the football, and that generally happens between the ten and eight-yard line. The mistake sometimes is the receivers are on the five and they begin to look – it is too late. You have to be tracking this ball and have a landmark, and so what I think what Alvin was referencing, the landmark of the sidewalk into the end zone, that would be the coaching point."
How many of those have you connected on in your career?
"Here, two? We had an OPI on one (with Jimmy Graham). Terrence Copper caught one like I said, halftime before we went in in Atlanta. You lose track. When you get one though it's rewarding because you're always practicing it and you're talking about the attention to detail. And the most important thing are just the landmarks, and then the quarterback being able to - there's generally a second or third hitch, or escape, or a flush so that the receivers can get further down the field and then the ball thrown. Jameis (Winston) was able to do that. There was a climb, and then an escape from the pocket, and then once that happens, you know that there's going to be a better chance from a timing standpoint. So he was outstanding and then the landmarks were good and if you watch Marquez, he's tracking it, probably his eyes turn at the 11-yard line I'm going to say because he's coming from a little bit further away."
Marquez has been so interesting this year, he probably hasn't had the volume of receptions that maybe we anticipated, but the adjustments he's made on some of the catches, even dating back to the preseason I mean is that a real special talent he has?
"Yes. It's a strength of his to high-point balls and turn and yeah, I think he has strong hands in traffic. I think that's accurate."
When you've got about a half a dozen or more starters or prominent players who were injured, what would you say you've learned over the course of your career that a coach has to do the various things to give yourself the best chance to succeed in spite of all that kind of missing prominent personnel?
"I think the first thing is attitude. I just I hate being around you know this idea of well we're you know, with the excuse already built in. I think that can be extremely contagious in a negative way. And then obviously your job is to prepare and teach, and then your job then is to look at who you have, and then and try to put them in the best positions to be successful. I mean I just think that that's what we're paid to do. And in this league there's no utopia there's no (situation where) everyone is healthy this week. It is just ever-changing and you hope your number is at the right time are reduced rather than increased. But I think it's important each week, and we talk about it sometimes it seems like a cliché, but man they're all of these guys, the guys that are on the active roster, the guys may be on a practice squad, they're going to play. They have to be ready to play and if they're not progressing where you don't have a vision, then you need to turn that part of the roster and keep looking for guys that you feel like can help you if the time comes."