Saints players and coaches celebrate the division win over Tampa Bay.
New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans
Monday, December 26, 2016
Has the significance of the 1,000-yard rusher changed at all as the league goes towards more passing?
"I don't know if it's changed at all. I think depending on what offense the team employs and how he gets it. I think it can vary. I think the runner you're probably seeing (now is) more runners with the receiving and the rushing yards. Whatever those benchmarks are, but I think there's other numbers yards per carry, scoring. There are a handful of other numbers that are probably just as relative and yet it's still significant from the standpoint of availability."
Do these last couple games optimize the character of this locker room?
"We have a good locker room. I like (it) from a work standpoint and how we prepare and how guys get ready. I think that's been outstanding and after this final regular season game we have to look to make the changes we need to make to improve our team and our roster in all areas, but I think from the standpoint of bringing in the right kind of people. I think that's critical in today's game and I think we've been able to do that."
What has stood out to you about Mark Ingram's performance this year?
"I think he's run very physically. I mean I can think of games, San Francisco specifically was a good bounceback game for him, but even the other day when we started the game against Tampa Bay, you saw the pad level and you saw the aggression and I think he's been healthy and I think that you've seen it now. He's had a very consistent type of season and that's a credit to how he's worked and how he's rehabbed also."
How important is that for your top back to be willing to do that?
"Well, I was referencing the offseason rehabilitation coming back and getting ready for this year, but I think when you play that positon you're going to have some type of nick or injury or something that's bothering you that you're able to play through and then sometimes you have an injury that won't allow you and I think everyone would say in our locker room would consider Mark (Ingram as) someone who's definitely tough both physically and mentally tough."
How significant is the difference between 8-8 and 7-9, especially because of the last couple of years?
"I look more closely at just the game itself and winning is significant always. The final record still represents something that's not good enough and hasn't gotten us into the postseason, and yet it is an opportunity to win another game."
Can you talk about how Dennis Allen has put his stamp on this defense; in what ways can you attribute the improvement to this year to what he has brought to the defense?
"First off, structurally and from an organizational standpoint, clearly it is night and day. That has been a positive. Secondly, I would say that we have been better probably since the bye, a little bit more situationally. We have defended the run better. We went through a good stretch of playing good red zone defense, and then depending on the game, maybe weren't as consistent. Considering the injuries we have had, he has done a real good job that way of putting a plan in place that I think suits our players. I think from a communication standpoint and a teaching standpoint, all of those things have been improved."
How tough was it to balance (Jairus Byrd) playing through the injury and what you guys wanted out of him as a player?
"I was talking to someone recently – I mean I sat on the practice field on the very play he got injured his first year here and that is challenging for anyone. But especially someone who is brought in to play a role as significantly as he was. I am encouraged at how he has played the last two months and we were able to see, again, a real good game by him, again, with a couple of interceptions – some of the production that he is capable of giving you."
We have been talking a lot these last couple of weeks about you guys looking at other teams for plays; is that Dontari Poe pass one you are going to be looking into closely?
"It was pretty impressive, wasn't it? As soon as he got the ball, I think every one of us felt that he was plowing it right up inside. We just have to find a big heavy lineman that can throw."