New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with Local Media
Monday, December 28, 2015
How did Andrus Peat look at right tackle and was it one of his better performances?
"Yes, I think it is and I think he handled it well. One of the challenges he has been faced with is he has worked at left tackle, worked at left guard, played left guard and then over to right tackle and I've said this before and I think it's important to say it again. We see Andrus as a tackle and he's smart. I think he played well yesterday probably one of his better games this season. At a position that certainty he is more comfortable with and fit for."
How important was it for a guy like Bobby Richardson just chases a play like that?
"Well he is pretty athletic. There is that moment where the ball is deflected and it just hangs in the air and credit him for obviously having the awareness and then being able to make the catch was a significant turnover for us and it was a bang bang play by Delvin (Breaux). The angle I had during the game was kind of down the sidelines looking back and seeing the receiver and seeing the deflection and then basically seeing the back of Richardson make the play so it was an important play in that game and it could have just been the deflection, but to get the turnover off of it."
What are some of the things Brandin Cooks can do this year that he couldn't do last year?
"I think in his second year and really his first full year as a starter there are a ton of little things. He obviously is someone who works on the details and spends a lot of time with Drew (Brees) perfecting the looks within each route and then there are other time for instance on a long yardage situation where he just took the proper stem and just ran by a corner. The execution of the route was perfect and then the throw to be able to keep Brandin in stride is the difference between a long completion or a touchdown pass. The timing of that play was very good. I think he is versatile and I think we found at times moving him either from the X to the Z and sometimes just putting him in motion or just shifting him to try to get him off of one corner maybe onto another has helped us."
Why do you think these reports about you keep happening?
"Well they happen on Sunday because that is an important news day and there basically twitter statements and I can't control those so I know it's competitive and when you look at Sunday morning that's when you see a lot of it and not just in regards to me whether it's injury news or any type of news that seems to be the beginning of the NFL week or news cycle. I've said it before and again there is nothing that I can do to control it."
Would you like to see any of those questions resolved?
"Yes, all of that will take care of itself."
Does it frustrate you more when the reports involve yourself?
"Yes, honestly when you do this long enough you really focus on the ones that can really affect your team and our focus each week is in our preparation. I thought this past week the staff worked their tails off late after a Monday night game and we were here Wednesday till quarter to three in the morning trying to come up with the best plan possible and you learn each year it's become a little bit more aggressive in regards to those reports and you can't control them so you really just work your best to put the best plan in place and that is the best way to approach it. You go crazy trying to pay attention to it all."
How important is perception to a successful offseason?
"Well look I think perception is important and I think how you finish the season is important. I've said this before I like this locker room and like the way they work. Our day to day approach and their ability to come off a win or tough loss and get on to the next work week so I think Drew (Brees) said it yesterday. This is what we do and your pride and putting out a good product and having a win. I mean you work so long and to put the hours in the players and coaches and everyone involved do. The taste in your mouth if you don't have success is terrible so to play like we did yesterday and come away with a good win especially for our fans at home that's important and awfully important."
How would perception affect your offseason specifically?
"Well I don't know that that is perception. I think that is reality in regards to looking at the tape and how guys are doing and overall and the meetings that take place following the season with regard to the upcoming offseason. I think the grades on how players do and how our positon groups do as coaches all of those things are what's on film."
How much do you think free agents care about where they think the franchise is going?
"I don't think there is any gray area about where we are going as a franchise. I think that we've had great stability with ownership and leadership here from the top down and I think it's been a plus for us not a detriment."
Do you see any role change for Jeff Ireland and your role as far as personnel decisions?
"Any of that stuff that we decide as an organization will communicate, but certainly not in the middle of the season or the tail end we wouldn't discuss (that) or announce right now."
When you made decisions regarding Tim Hightower were any of those decisions based on what a great story he is?
"No, I think the nuts and bolts with the signing of Tim in the offseason it comes up in every offseason for teams is your looking at a player who wants an opportunity, who at one time excelled at his position and be it from injury usually from an injury had setbacks and there is very little risk and a lot to possibly gain if he is able to return to full strength and so in Tim's case we viewed it that way. He was obviously very well-regarded as a running back at Arizona and Washington before the injury and then having a chance in the offseason program to get to know him and see how important it was to him you don't root for guys, but certainly you understand and appreciate his demeanor and work ethic and even at the start of the season we had to release him and then re-sign him. He has had a long path and yet every step of the way man he is intent on getting better and the way he prepares. I mean if you ask the players that play with him he is a constant pro and I mean he has had a good finish now and I think that he has gotten stronger and I think to be away from it as a runner and to get back in the preseason snaps (it took time to get it back). I said the finish to the Redskin game was awfully important for him at a time when the game was really over he was receiving some of his first carries in a regular season NFL game in a couple of years. I thought that was important step for him and he has just only impressed since then and I think the world of him and certainly respect the fight he has (gone through) to get back on the field."
With a bigger focus being put on concussions, what has been your approach as a parent of a child who plays football? What would you pass along to other parents who maybe have that concern for their child?
"2012, the year I coached my son's sixth-grade team, I was probably asked that question 20 or 30 times by different parents. It might start off with what type of helmet do you recommend or do you feel like there is a greater risk. For younger kids, and having watched and coached my son's team, I think that the risk is minimal. I think the rewards for children playing that sport are great. I think no different than in soccer or in baseball, in youth sports, those things (are things) that each parent tries to look at. Obviously, as a coach at that level, you're mindful of the safety and rules of the game, and then how to make it a better experience. I remember specifically that the goal that we had as coaches, was to make sure that the following year every one of our players wanted to play again, that they enjoyed the experience and that we were going to be smart. With the attention drawn to that injury and that type of risk, those are the right questions. In my own opinion, it is not until later that it becomes a little bit more challenging of a decision to make. At that age, I feel like the benefits are fantastic and I can't recall seeing or being a part of (an injury like that). I was a pop warner player since nine years old and all of the way through, (and now I'm) seeing my son go through that experience. They'll be some players get injured, get the wind knocked out of them, an occasional broken bone, but I think overall, the safety at that age is pretty strong."
What do you mean when you say not until later? Maybe high school football?
"Those are decisions for athletes. We're all educated, obviously, with regards to protocol. Your question was dealing with youth football. The contact goes up (at an older age). The benefits of high school football, I feel strongly about, as I do about college. I'd go all of the way through professionally. I think that we're more aware. I think the game is safer than it has been. I think the protocols that are now being put in place or have been in place, are for the betterment of the game."
The National Football League is designed for parity; the longer you're in the league, do you still see that being true? What, in your mind, separates the most successful franchises from those that aren't?
"I would agree with your opening statement, in regards to the draft and the salary cap. That gives teams, each offseason, a chance to improve their roster or maybe improve their team and be able to compete quicker than maybe other sports. I think the unique thing about professional sports is that they are privately owned so there are 32 different ways of running a team. Obviously, dealing with the salary cap, acquiring talent and trying to stay ahead of the game with the younger players. I think we are seeing more younger players play quicker now than ever. All of those things are the things that you strive for as an organization and as a team. Not speaking for other teams but I think the key is staying on top of the procurement of talent, and bringing in the right type of players and building a culture that provides them a chance to be successful."