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Saints transcripts: Taysom Hill, Kwon Alexander and Christian Ringo media availability| Wednesday, Jan. 5

Players look ahead to Week 18 matchup against Atlanta

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Taysom Hill
Virtual Media Availability
Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Does Sunday's game at Atlanta feel any different than a playoff game?
"Yeah, I guess it is a unique scenario in that sense because it is the regular season still and we've been in these games before. Shoot, obviously, last week's game (against Carolina) was a must-win game and we treated that like a playoff game. This week has more of a playoff feel for us, knowing if we don't win that we are for sure going home. Our mindset is the same."

What did Thomas Morstead mean to this franchise from your perspective?
"Yeah, of course I am looking forward to seeing him (on Sunday). I think you can look at all of the accomplishments he had on the field as a punter. I know this dates back to his rookie year, but with the onside kick in the Super Bowl, I'm aware of his history here as a Saint. I can tell you Thomas, from a locker room standpoint, was a better man and better teammate. He is a great husband. He is a guy that once I got into the league, I looked up to. He was able to find the balance of being a professional but also being a great husband and great father. So, he has definitely been missed here. I have been so happy for him and the success that he's had, first in New York, and now with Atlanta. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing him."

How has Sean Payton changed his offensive philosophy to win games in a different way from past Saints teams?
"Yeah, that is a good question. I think one of the things to me, obviously I do not have a lot of experience or exposure with coaches in other franchises around the league, but I think one of the things that really separates Coach Payton, and his staff is that they know their personnel, their strengths, and their weaknesses. They coach to our personnel. Every week at the start of the week, I think they have a clear vision for what it's going to take to win the football game. We talk about that from the start of the week, 'Here's the deal, this is what we're going to do' or 'This is a game where we need to score this many points might win the game' or 'We might need to score more points this game.' He puts guys in the right situations and calls the plays that are for the right game. This season, more than any other season I have been a part of you can see that. We've had more personnel change this season and those guys continue to change and stay up later and later to put guys in the right spot and figure out ways that we can win each game."

Have you seen Coach Payton been more conservative with his play calling this year?
"Yeah, I think it's a fair question. I think this year more than any, we've had this conversation in the past, but I think our defense has been so good this season that I think the other side of that is offensively, we try not to put them in bad situations. We try to take care of the ball. We talk early in the week and say punting is not necessarily a bad thing. You can play the field position game. I think last week (vs. Carolina) was a prime example of that, as you look at starting field position to where punting isn't necessarily a bad thing. You pin them back and let our defense make a good stand, and now we have good field position. Maybe that (aggressiveness) has been dialed back a little bit in the nature that you're talking about, but I think Coach (Payton) has a really good feel for what our strengths our and then playing to those strengths. I think this year, we've had so many great team efforts and team wins. Sean just understands what that takes each week."

How much has Atlanta's defense changed under the new coaching regime with Arthur Smith?
"Yeah, it's obviously a different scheme. It may be a little more shell and disguise that way with the new staff, but we're familiar with their personnel. I have a lot of respect for this team and this defense. We've played them a lot throughout the years, and they have a lot of good football players. Atlanta is a team that plays us well. They're a good divisional opponent. This is one of those games where you have to be ready to play all four quarters and be ready to be in it the whole time."

What do you think this Saints coaching staff has done to keep spirits and confidence up despite all of the challenges this season?
"I think we talked about that with how Sean's (Payton) handled this season, but it all starts there. Sean created the expectation of and created a clear vision for what it's going to take to win each game. Look, we have obviously overcome a lot of adversity this year with all of the injuries, displacement to Dallas (during Hurricane Ida), and all that stuff. I'll say the staff hasn't created excuses for anybody, certainly not for themselves. Our expectation is to win every game that we play. Then, I would say that coach also has a really good understanding of where the locker room is at. When we were losing in the middle of the season; I feel like he gave us more time off and gave us a little more walk-through reps than we would normally have in that time of the season. He just changed things up to try to continue to take care of our guys and motivate people even when that was an unfamiliar feeling the past few years (five-game losing streak). Now we are in a position where we have a chance to be in the postseason. Our mindset is winning this one on Sunday."

Will you be paying attention to the Rams vs. 49ers game on Sunday?
"Yeah, I mean, look, we're approaching this game on Sunday like it's a playoff game. That's what we can control. Now, I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be peeking at the scoreboards when they come across on Sunday to see what that score is. So, everyone will be aware of it. We're aware of the situation and what needs to happen. But that will not distract anybody from doing what we have to do to put our best foot forward on the field and do what it takes to win."

How do you compartmentalize focusing on your game Sunday vs. Atlanta but also be aware of the Rams vs. 49ers game?
"Look, I don't foresee it being an issue. We're going to continue to go out there and put our best foot forward. We're all professionals here and I really just don't see that being an issue. We've been in, not this experience before, but last season or a couple previous seasons ago where we watched scores and this team won, so we moved up to the two-seed to earn a bye. I remember being on the field seeing that score. I think that's a realistic thing and is aware of what needs to happen, but I think more than anything, everyone is aware we need to win this game. There will be no distraction from that game."

How close do you feel this team is to achieving its goals offensively?
"At the end of the day, and this is what we were talking about earlier with Coach Payton and his staff, they have this idea of what it is going to take to win each game. As I look at statistics and everything else offensively, I think the number one goal has been to win each game. Sometimes that required one thing from the offense and sometimes that required something else. Overall, I would say we are looking at the wins and the losses. So, I'm not getting caught up in the statistics of where we're at offensively the last few weeks or over the course of this season. I think with that being said, as I sit back and watch film over the previous weeks with the games that we've had, I think that I see there's just little things that kill drives that prevent us from putting points on the board. Again, I go back to your point, and I do say that yes, we are close to where we want to be, we just have to eliminate those little issues that kill drives. If that's the case, then we'll be putting a lot of points on the board, our third down conversions will be better, and we'll put ourselves in a better position to win."

How much do you attribute still being in the playoff race to the leadership among the players within the locker room?
"I think it goes hand-in-hand. You know, I think Sean deserves a lot of credit as we've talked about, but in terms of the locker room and being with the guys, our captains this year deserve so many accolades and so much credit as well. They keep guys motivated, they don't allow people to slack off or get discouraged, and so forth. I think it starts at the top, but man our locker room has been really great throughout the years. This year has been no different than previous years. Our captains have been great."

New Orleans Saints Linebacker Kwon Alexander
Virtual Availability With Local Media
Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Did you get a chance to watch the LSU game?
"Yeah, I watched a couple (quarters) until halftime, went to sleep before the third quarter, but it was kind of crazy, you know, we had no quarterback. We had a quarterback they just put him in, but he did decent. I heard he threw three touchdowns, so that's impressive, when you haven't been out there with all that pressure, so that was nice (to see)."

Why do you think the defense has been so good in the red zone this season?
"We just been locked down man, to tell you the truth. We've been locked in on the details and all the small things and just knowing how each other play and working off each other. So we just been playing fast and just trying to shorten our mistakes and we've been doing it."

What's different about defended in the red zone in particular?
"No, we just locked in or everything, like in practice you just got to know what's coming, you got to watch film, you got to know what formations and all that and we already be locked and most of the time we'll be calling the plays anyways. So once you watch film and stuff like that everything gets easier for you."

When Cameron Jordan or whether anybody else is playing really well, how do y'all feed off of that defensively and elevate everybody's game?
"We just feed off each other, for real, Cam is playing legendary for sure. He's been going crazy, but we all play together. You know, once you play together everybody can get going and start doing their thing, you know, and that's what we've been doing. We've just has holding everybody accountable and everybody's just been stepping up and playing big."

Did you notice the Falcons operating faster to try and reduce the pressure on the quarterback?
"Yeah, we have been seeing that, we've seen them trying to not hold the ball and get it out quicker. We watched all that and we're going to try to get pressure on him and that's the main goal is to try to get pressure on him and make big plays and that's what we're going to do."

What do you make of the way they use Cordarrelle Patterson in their offense?
"Oh yeah, they just move around in different spots, he's a playmaker, he was at receiver, he plays running back, he's been doing a lot. He's been having a legendary season himself, so we got to find a way to stop him, stop all the key players and try to find a way to get this win."

New Orleans Saints Defensive Tackle Christian Ringo
Media Availability
Friday, January 5, 2022

How have the last weeks been for you?
"Everything has been good. Same old, same old. Just taking it one day at a time, trying to help this organization win."

Did you have any COVID-19 symptoms?
"Yes ma'am, I was really, really sick this time."

When did you feel like you were back in football shape after your COVID-19 symptoms went away?
"I'd say sometime last week after that first practice. I think we first started practicing last Thursday, that's when I started feeling a little better."

What are your thoughts on how the defensive line has played the last few weeks?
"I think we have been playing pretty decent. We have been making some plays, but we are definitely striving for more. We always look at each other and say we need more. So, whatever we can do to help the team, that's what we're going to do."

What has made this team so good defensively in the red zone?
"Attention to detail, just locking in on our jobs. You know, just executing. It's as simple as that."

How big of a role does Dennis Allen play in getting the defensive personnel the details they need?
"He plays a large role. He makes sure we stay focused and know what we are doing. He plays a very large role.

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