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Saints transcripts: Sean Payton conference call with local media | Monday, Jan. 10

Head coach looks back on the 2021-22 season 

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton
Conference call with local media
Monday, Jan. 10, 2022

Is there overriding characteristic that you would place on this team, whether it be resilience or whatever now that you look back at it?
"Yeah, I think so, I think that's something that you find out about really when guys have adversity, it's one of the things we look for when we're putting a team together, the makeup and toughness and grit, if you will. And I think it serves you well, not necessarily when you're winning, but it serves you well when you have to overcome some adversity. And I think clearly, that would be a trait I would describe of this team."

What are the conversations you have after a season that ended not making the playoffs versus the last four years where it's been a loss in the playoffs?
"Now, alright, I think Malcolm Jenkins said something yesterday and it resonated and it's true, he's experienced it. These things end the same way, they end in the locker room with players packing. They end with the team meeting, they end with we're going to forward you the schedules via email, once we receive a better idea of the offseason. They end with players getting exit physicals, they end with players, having some offseason surgeries done, clean up work done or significant surgeries done. They end with evaluations by the coaching staffs on the individual players throughout the year and so that cycle begins. I mean, that's the best way to describe it. Look what was unique yesterday is that typically what I just described, follows a loss and so what was unique yesterday is, man, you're getting ready for this week, you're playing Atlanta, of course, in the division, need to win this game, need to play well and we do that. And then you come in and you watch the finish of a game and then I said this last night to my wife, I said, God for a second there, it feels like we lost. And so I know why it feels that way. But that's the difference relative to the past 24 or 48 hours."

How did you know this team grit and resilient players?
"I think it's demonstrated, I think people have behavior patterns and you lose a tough game, you come back and get ready to play. I thought we lost a tough game week two, and then went on the road at New England and won one. You relocate (Ida) and you see it with players, you see with coaches. You know it's a long season, so coming back to work after a tough loss, you can't wait to play the next game and you work harder. And so it's something you see, it becomes easier to see the more you're in this thing a long time. You can identify it with players, coaches, you can identify it with a lot of different employees."

How tough is it to keep guys from drifting either mentally or physically when you're going through a process like this or you're losing your five games in a row and to get them to bounce back and finish out the way they did?
"Yeah, look, I think that leans on leadership, you know, both from within the team, from the coaching staff that leads on the next plan. It gets back to the ingredients, it's back to getting the right type of people in the building because if you don't have that, then what we're talking about becomes impossible."

I know there's not always carryover from one year to another, but I always remember, during those 7-9 seasons, when you pointed to that one photo on the sideline and sort of the energy of the young players you had brought in. Do you get a similar vibe that you are building around a good core here and that can carry over?
"Listen, I think the core, I think we've been building around a real good core since '17. If you really look closely at some of the older players prior, that draft class, man, I think there's a lot of guys here. I mean, shoot, I don't know how many wins in the last call it four years, five years, but I think these guys have won a lot of games."

I know there's always change. Do you anticipate any of your coaches getting interviews, considering the success y'all have had recently?
"Yeah, look, I think that comes with success. And I think it's a positive thing. Hopefully that happens again for guys to get opportunities, but I think that's part of the deal. And there's certainly change every year."

Is there anything that's sticking with you as you look back on the season, like a stretch of games, or one game in particular, or anything?
"No, look, there's a handful of things you can that you can look at. What's that?"

Well, just anything that gnaws at you?
"Oh, there's always a lot of things that gnaw at me, but no, it's not one specific thing. Not anything that just grinds. I mean, there's a handful of things relative to the course of the season and it just it is what it is."

Early in free agency or in the offseason, last year, you publicly said you wanted to bring Jameis Winston back, do you know yet what the plan is, as far as that goes for this offsesaon?
"Listen, we literally just finished meeting with our players. And so none of those discussions or evaluations or any of that would have taken place yet. Those will begin to take place in the next three weeks, four weeks."

Do you know anything more about Taysom Hill's injury?
"Yeah, it's a Lisfranc. He actually had one, he just was up here we were talking. He had one before in his right foot so when he planted, because I didn't see how it happened, but when he planted with his left foot he felt something. My take is they will have to do a surgery. That's what I heard today. So it's a lisfranc. They'll repair that area and then do a smaller surgery to remove the hardware after it's healed."

Did any of that come with any sort of projected timetable?
"No, listen, it's not going to impact his offseason. I wouldn't go through timetables right now. You asked what the injury was and I'm telling you it's a Lisfranc."

The quarterback position was obviously a huge story of the offseason. In 17 games, you actually saw all four quarterbacks start at least one game. Just curious what your biggest takeaways are on how that position and how that situation developed and then heading into the offseason?
"I think it is way too early to even answer that. A lot of guys receive an opportunity to play not just a quarterback. Again, we have a whole month ahead of us here where we are going to be sitting down going through each position. We just finished playing yesterday."

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