New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Opening Statement:"Just real quick, an update on roster moves: we waived linebacker Martez Wilson, we signed Ryan Griffin from the practice squad to the active roster, and we brought in Kyle Knox as an outside linebacker to our practice squad. (We are) In to our normal schedule here this week, we had an extra day on Wednesday, today, and again the emphasis was spent on first and second down. Any questions?"
Looking back, what were the reasons to hire Doug Marrone and why make him the offensive coordinator at that time?
"A couple of things. At that time, much like you would a roster, we had begun to create kind of a depth chart of coaches that we had an interest in. There were a handful that I had worked with and knew, Curtis Johnson, Greg McMahon, Joe Vitt, guys that I had experience being on a staff with. Number one, we needed a coordinator, we needed someone with experience coaching the offensive line. Sometimes there is a fit, it's not too unusual. The challenge at that time was we were shortly removed from (Hurricane) Katrina and trying to find coaches with families to come into the region was sometimes difficult. That initial staff, a lot of those guys came with promotions, we weren't winning many jump balls, if you will, in the hiring process. We had a handful of attempts at hiring guys. Doug was someone that I had met before, and he was still under contract with the (New York) Jets, and finally was able to get out of his contract. I had a chance to interview him and felt really, really comfortable with his expertise and his ability to teach. That initial staff was pretty special and he is someone that I've stayed in close touch with throughout the years when he went to Syracuse and now to Buffalo. He is doing a good job there."
How had you met him before he was hired?
"I met him in Dallas once, in combines and Senior Bowls and some of those things where the league is together, and I got to know him a little bit. During the interview process, a lot more."
Do you look forward to coaching against a friend?
"Look, it just goes with being in the league longer. I think, anymore, each week there is always connections. Next week it will be Rob (Ryan) and Rex (Ryan). The week after that, I don't know who we play but there will be a tie there, I'm sure. I think it is pretty common once you have been in the league a while. It is nice to have guys that were on that initial staff, like Doug or Dennis Allen, to get opportunities as head coaches. That is something that I am excited about and the organization feels good about. He did a great job while he was here."
You won the Super Bowl with that offensive line. What impact did he have on that group?
"He was involved with getting Jonathan Goodwin here, because he had been with him on the Jets. We had a lot of transition in that first year if you look at the starting offensive line in 2006 compared to the year before we got here, there were a lot of new faces. Jahri (Evans) was getting ready to play as a rookie, there were quite a bit of changes. He did a real good job."
What would you say has contributed to the reduced about of touchdown catches for the wide receivers?
"We've said going in, we made an emphasis on improving number one, our redzone offense. There is, formationally, times where the plays happen maybe outside of the redzone. Jimmy (Graham) and Darren Sproles have had real good production. I don't know if there is any one thing that you would point at. A lot of times, teams are playing more coverage down there, brackets, double on the outside players. When that happens, a guy like Travaris Cadet ends up getting an underneath escape route for a touchdown. That would be the first thing that comes to mind. We are here at six games. Normally you might have more than that, but I think overall just being more efficient and monitoring what we are doing well and what we can improve on are the key things."
Could you fill us in on your plans for the run game?
"I think this, I think during the bye week one of the things we talked about was just more of a consistency and not having the minus runs. I thought in the second half of the New England game, we ran it better. Part of that is me, and being patient with it, and it is something we will continue to do. Buffalo plays a few looks defensively though, they are in a base 34 front, they get in an under front, they jump into a bear defense and then they play nickel sometimes to some of your base personnel. That just presents, from a communications standpoint, a few different things that we've got to be on the same page with. We want to be, and we have been, a team that is in multiple personnel groupings. I think it's important that, even though you may have tendencies, that you have the ability to run the ball from both your base and your nickel and I think that we will want to be able to do that in this game."
When you are running the ball well, do you worry that you lose some of that rhythm going into a bye week?
"No. We haven't had any magical answers with the bye week schedule. The first few years we didn't do as well. Andy Reid had won eight or nine in a row at the time and I just remember calling him and asking him simply what's your schedule. His was pretty easy, those guys came in Monday and then they were off for a week. It seemed pretty simple. So we've kind of followed that. I think it still comes back to that week after, like right now, Monday's practice and today, making sure that their conditioning level is up to speed and they are in the weight room. I thought they did a good job during the bye of taking care of themselves. We had a handful of that were injured who had to be here for treatment. Generally when you go through a week like that, no news is good news, and I thought they handled the schedule pretty well."
Can you talk about the roster moves yesterday? Martez Wilson is a guy that you were high on…
"Look, at some point, number one Ryan (Griffin) was a guy that we signed as a free agent. We considered drafting him late and he came in and had a real good training camp, so maybe a move like that gets sped up. I think, overall, it was trying to pay attention to production and it was as simple as that. We had a chance to visit yesterday. I know he will have another opportunity and you want to see him do well, I'm talking about Martez. Those are the decisions that are tough often times during the season and you kind of go from there."
What are your thoughts on Buffalo's blitz package and how Mario Williams has adapted to it?
"Well I think they get a lot of pressure from just their base. You know, he plays that weakside/outside linebacker position which can put him right or left based on your formation in the base. In the nickel snaps, he's more to our right and to his left. He's had an exceptional season. He's had sacks from inside. He's had sacks from outside. He's someone who is comfortable on either side of the tackle. So you've seen that production. He's healthy. He's long. Certainly he is a player that you have to account for because he changed the game last week, we saw in the final snaps. He's really playing well. I think collectively as defense they're at the top of the league in pressures and sacks. They're number one in the league in interceptions. Those usually kind of go hand-in-hand often times, if the clock is quick for the quarterback it benefits the back end. That's certainly one of the challenges this week."
Thad Lewis is so young but what do you see out of him?
"Well the one thing you see is leadership and you see a team that believes. They lead the league in rushing and they're doing a good job possessing the football. They've been smart. I think that when you look at their formula right now, they played very well of late. Every game they have played has been within a touchdown, excluding their win against Cleveland. Every other game has come within one possession. I think that they are getting the turnovers. They're hurrying the quarterback. They're running the football well with two good backs. They're getting a lot of plays off, some no huddles, some hurry up. He's very comfortable for someone who hasn't played a lot of snaps. I don't necessarily think you see that on tape and that's a credit to those guys on offense, not only him but the players around him and the coaches. They've done a good job."
Buffalo went into the Miami game kind of beat up. Did you get a sense in it and what they're about playing with a backup quarterback and running back too?
"Yeah, they've got a handful of guys injured, no different than us and a lot of the teams in the league. The played Miami very well. They had some key turnovers. They had an interception for a touchdown. They got the sack fumble late in the game. They're playing with confidence and have played some good opponents."
When Doug Marrone thought about making the move to Buffalo from Syracuse, did he consult in you?
"We spoke briefly and he and I would talk fairly often during the offseason. The challenge a year ago was just contact with coaches but when he was at Syracuse he was someone that I could speak with so we spoke a little bit about it. He had a few opportunities and I think he looked for the one he felt most comfortable with and I think he made a good decision."
I know individual records don't mean as much as wins and losses but Marques Colston is zeroing in on another. Can you just talk a little bit about where he ranks among players you've worked with?
"What one's he zeroing in on?"
Total receiving yards.
"Back to week one, I think one of the best words, he's been very consistent. He's a big target with strong hands. He's someone that quickly knows all of the positions. I don't want to say it comes easy to him but he is very intelligent and can play outside and can play the slot. He's played in a lot of those spots during his career. It's hard to believe he's in year eight, in that initial draft class. He's been very consistent, very reliable, available and he's got a big target area and works extremely hard during the course of the week. The key for a player like that now, not unlike a few of the other players that have that experience is just making sure they don't get too many snaps during the week."
How would you evaluate Kenny Stills and Nick Toon at receiver?
"They're doing well. Trying to get them all reps is a challenge but they both have adjusted. They understand the offense and I think they're doing well."
What are your early impressions of Vilma since he's been back on the practice field?
"He's moving around fine and it'll be hard to tell just after two practices."