New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with Local Media
Thursday, October 3, 2019
A lot of the players in the locker room now don't have any recollection of Will Smith, but you probably do. What will go through your mind when his name is added to the Ring of Honor?
"Probably a lot of emotions. He was such a special person, special guy, special player. As good a leader as we've had here in 13 years that I've been around. He was that strong and respected and he was definitely one of the pillars of the success we were able to have and a pleasure to coach. His passing and I say this just (to clarify) his passing has nothing to do with the honor. In other words, if he were alive today and he was being honored, it would be expected and very deserving. I think it just makes it a little bit more emotional."
When you look at Tampa defensively, what are some of the things you've seen from that defense that's made it play better that you or at least play as well as it has?
"I think Todd (Bowles) and his (defensive) staff have done a great job of bringing a scheme that fits the players that are in it. There've been some new additions. There's a confidence they're playing with. It's tough. It's a tough run front. Shoot, they're defending the run better than anyone in the league right now. I think that they're able to get teams in passing situations and now it becomes a little bit more of a one dimensional game. They're challenging. I think typically when you have a unit that's performing real well, it's a combination of talent and a good plan."
What about that run front has made them so good and your opinion?
"It's the type of front they're in. They're going to populate the ball, they're going to give you some pressures. They're going to make it challenging at the line of scrimmage for your quarterback to just go up and call any run. You've got to have a plan in regards to weakside or strongside overload pressures. I think that's just the beginning of it. And then obviously, good players that fit it. I think their tackles are playing exceptionally well inside with Vita Vea and (Ndamukong) Suh, but it's a heavy front and it's a pressure front."
You made some upgrades to the special teams. How would you assess how they've done through the first quarter of the season so far?
"I think we're playing well. I've been real encouraged that the penalties (have) gone away. We've gotten some big returns. I think we're strong at a lot of spots. Our kicker and punter are experienced, exceptionally talented players, and I think (Darren) Rizzi and his staff have done a good job. Be it it's early in the season, I'm pleased."