New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton
Friday, Dec. 10, 2021
Are you OK with Taysom Hill's overall health to start at quarterback Sunday?
"Yeah, look, if I wasn't, I wouldn't be playing him. I mean, honestly. You know, we're going to have to throw the ball, mix in the run, all of those things. I think he's had a good week (of practice)."
Do Taysom Hill's throws have the velocity they normally have?
"I haven't felt like I've seen anything different."
Is Taysom Hill's selflessness to play in all the different roles he's played in a rare thing to witness?
"Look, it's unique. You know, I hear this all the time from personnel people or other coaches, they're all looking for a Taysom Hill now. It's unique. Part of that is his athleticism, his size, and his strength. In the division, teams see him twice a year and some of these non-divisional opponents see him for the first time and (he's hard to prepare for). He's powerful at quarterback and obviously in his other positions with some of the things he does. When you throw that with those endearing qualities as far as a teammate, the selflessness to cover a punt or cover a kick. Here's the one thing; when I was watching the preseason tape of him in Green Bay, I've said this before, there was a play, I think it was third down in the second half, the play broke down when they (Packers) were at midfield, maybe the 40-yard line. He stepped up in the pocket and he runs and scores a touchdown on a long run, a 35- or 40-yard run. What was really telling was that within two seconds, the other 10 players were on top (celebrating) with him. Sometimes, if you really pay attention to those things, you can really tell how a player is respected (by his peers). That was just a rookie and that was something that was like 'woah'. It was very notable."
When did you first figure out Taysom Hill's hybrid role?
"How'd that happen? Well, we claimed him (from Green Bay) as a quarterback. He came in as a quarterback. We had a week four or week five game where we had some injuries. Our inactives prior to Covid-19 were a little more defined. So, we had three healthy players that could be on special teams. When that happens usually, we asked if there was anyone that could help on special teams. I turned to Mike (Westhoff) and said, 'Can Taysom help us in the kicking game?' Mike was like, 'Yeah, I'll take him.' That was the first game where he covered kicks. Fox was calling the game and I remember telling (Troy) Aikman about him covering kicks. After that, his role kind of evolved to that (hybrid role). We saw the speed and saw (the athleticism). Part of that first game was the result of the injuries and grabbing a healthy inactive player that could help in the kicking game."
Did Taysom Hill have any hesitation about helping out at other positions besides quarterback?
"No. Shoot, he was a rookie at that time. He was a rookie, free agent. This gets back to his traits. He said, 'Yeah, I'd love to do that.'"
Can you talk about your first game ever calling plays against the Jets in 1999?
"No, that was against the New York Giants. It was a Sunday, (Bill) Parcells was the head coach and (Bill) Belichick was the defensive coordinator. Coach (Jim) Fassel, the late Coach Fassel, had lost his father that week. I think that's the game you're referring to. That was the first game that I called plays in a regular season game. Obviously, the stadium is different (now). While I was with New York (Giants), we'd play the Jets every preseason and once every four years you wouldn't play them in the preseason because you had them in the regular season game. It would rotate whether it was green or blue in the stadium. The old stadium was Giants Stadium and the Jets played there. It was always (kind of strange). The new one is different, obviously. That's what I remember about that game in 1999."
How much did you miss Alvin Kamara the past five weeks?
"Obviously, you're talking about one of the better running backs in the league. So, yeah, quite a bit. We've had stretches without Alvin (before). A couple years ago, I recall, going up to Chicago. Just as importantly though with a Pro Bowl running back, the two Pro Bowl tackles (Ryan Ramczyk,Terron Armstead) (were also out). That's significant. That's significant. So, you feel that relative to the run or pass game. We've built this team in some ways through the defensive and offensive lines. I'd say we value those picks early. Those are hard players to find in free agency and during the offseason. Certainly, cover corners as well, there's a list of those things. So, when you're looking at those tackles and the interior line, and you're looking at the ends, it's hard sometimes for the eye to watch on television and recognize (the difference) compared to Alvin (not being there) or a corner or middle linebacker or receiver, those are easier to see. Those line positions are something that, this is the first stretch having games with both (Ramczyk and Armstead) out. That's a challenge."
How close was Alvin Kamara to playing against Dallas?
"He was close last week. He was really close (to playing). Obviously, I just felt like I didn't want to set him back. It was a hamstring, not the knee (injury). He's fully healthy this week."
Were the last five weeks the most challenging times you've had calling and designing plays in your career?
"Well, take last week for instance with both tackles down (Armstead, Ramczyk) against a pretty good front, let's look back and make sure we didn't put those two tackles (James Hurst, Jordan Mills) in bad positions. Now, there might be other things that happen, but that's our responsibility (as coaches), I think. So, there's a cause and effect with some of that stuff when you do that. Then, you find out what you're missing. Part of that might be flare control on a pass route or part of it might be because you're nudging or chipping and there's certain runs, you're not running because of the guys there instead of Ryan (Ramczyk) or Terron (Armstead). Yeah, I would say so. Meetings are longer, you're thinking about how we win games with this group."
How do the Covid testing rules work?
"I don't want to answer that exactly. It'd be two negative tests. I would acquiesce to Shone (Gipson) or I can find out for you. I think it has to be two negative tests the day before. The negative test that's taken on a Saturday, we're finding out at 3 AM on Sunday the result, give or take because of the courier and that set up."
Are there certain throws that become more difficult for Taysom due to his injuries?
"I think you'd have to ask (Taysom). He's looked sharp. At the start of the week there was an 80% chance of rain (in New York). It's down to less than 5%, high 40s, 12 mph winds. There will be a favorable wind in this stadium, meaning you'll see kickoffs going out of the end zone in one direction and an unfavorable wind in the other endzone if it's 12 mph. It's nothing like what we saw on Monday night (in Buffalo). That was extreme. Those elements impact the passer and obviously anything on your throwing hand you have to get adjusted to. Really, I say this, I haven't asked him. I've just watched, and it's looked good. He's smart enough to play with any kind of splint he needs. His practice today was sharp. It was really sharp and yet, I'm sure there's something different about (his grip) than normal, but yeah."
How much has Taysom's grip on the ball changed with his splint?
"I don't think we're changing the overall grip; you know, I think how it feels in his hand. When I see the completions going to the right location, I don't ask about the golf swing. I ask about it when I don't see it going to the right location."
How much does the weather impact the gameplan?
"It's hard to play in those extreme conditions where everyone knows you're running (the ball). It's also hard when you watch a game on television to really appreciate, not so much the temperature, but the wind. You don't see the wind on television. You just hear the announcers and take their word for it, but you don't see the wind. Yeah, when I got injured in Tampa in 2011 on the sideline. It was one of those Tibia plateau fractures where your body goes into shock and you get a shot and you're woozy sitting down on the bench, it was about 80 degrees outside, was kind of warm. It was week four or five. We were going right to left when Jimmy Graham caught a slant. Anyway, I was kind of out of it, I tried calling the game from the bench watching on the scoreboard. When the quarter changed, I looked at Pete (Carmichael) and told him, 'you're going to have to call plays.' I felt this like, hard wind, right to left. I told (Carmichael), 'stay away from the shot plays, I feel like we're in the thick of the wind here.' You guys know Pete now, he's been here for sixteen years. He told me, 'we're alright with the wind coach. I think it's the sideline fan.' I looked up at every flag in the stadium and all of them were still. I knew I had to go in the locker room after that. I said, 'alright, we're good.' That was classic Pete Carmichael. Almost apologizing for correcting me."