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Transcript: Coach Sean Payton weekly conference call - September 26, 2019

Coach Sean Payton speaks to media prior to Week 4

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, September 26, 2019

When you guys were scouting Harris, do you recall if anyone was like at a game at Assumption or was looking at him that early or was it all sort of pre-draft process where you really did a deep dive on him?
"I think most of it was filmed pre-draft. I have said this before, the film was extremely impressive. Now every time he touched the ball, he was scoring a touchdown. So what was difficult is (evaluating him based on) the level of competition. But nonetheless, you asked yourself, well, does he dominate? And he did. So I can recall watching it and it was almost humorous the success he was having. But that's all he can do. We talk about does he stand out? Certainly if we put the tape on and I didn't say anything to any anybody, and I said, will try to tell me who we're looking at. You would have said, well, who's the returner? And, and that's how it was."

I know Darren Rizzi went and did a workout with him. Did he do that with many returners or he was one of few that Darren actually went and worked out?
"There was a group of like our final five. We did it with long snappers. (Our thought process was) Here's a group of players, let's go try to sort these guys out and see how they catch, see how they move and look, that's helpful. That that was extremely helpful."

And speaking of that, do you ever recall seeing a guy where they would scheme to lateral back to him as often as they did even when teams are trying to kick away from him?
"Again, you are never surprised as to what you see sometimes on tape. You see it all. But if I was there and they were kicking away from them, I would try to lateral it to them as well."

What do you make of the combination I guess of the combined benefits of (Thomas) Morstead punting and (Deonte) Harris returning (and how that) can help you with field position and influence on the outcomes of games?
"We know this, we know that yards can equate to points. That's a fact. When you have yard differential, if you believe a 100 yards equals seven points in and around that number, then that can directly impact winning and losing."

On the Cowboys, I'm sure you saw that Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard each had a hundred yards rushing last game, albeit against a team that's been struggling. What do you make of the way they're using the two backs and the styles of the two guys?
"They're playing awfully well right now. We just went through the numbers. Third down, they're one in the league, defensively they're second in the league. Each category, big play, yards per play, they're running it well, the quarterback's playing well. I think that, look, their design, their talent, all of those things, you can't help but notice the quarterback (Dak Prescott) and the success he's having. That's nothing new for him. He's been successful. But, when you see the combination of running backs and I think just the right amount of veteran presence from a (Randell) Cobb and a (Jason) Witten, a few of those guys, (Travis) Frederick the center is back, that's very important."

How similar or different do you see (Tony) Pollard and (Ezekiel) Elliot being?
"Look, I think it's hard to compare Pollard to Elliot. I think Elliott in his own right has established himself as one of the elite backs. He's versatile, physical, he's fast, he can block, and so Pollard is a guy that has come in as a rookie and obviously has stepped up and played at a high level. I think there is a good combination there and I think that that formula for us has worked and I think it keeps players fresh and able to play a whole season. That's a tough position to play for a year."

The game you guys played against Dallas last year in the Thursday night game, is that pretty typical their defense for them to be as hands on, as physical, and maybe try to keep you off schedule? It kind of reminds me of the daring the officials to throw a flag on every play that they used to say about the Seattle Seahawks when they were in their heyday defensively.
"I think they beat us. It was a tough game for us. We did not get much going. We didn't protect the passer well. (We had) Penalties. They made the plays in the game that they needed to. It was a fairly close game early and then it was a difficult game. It was one that as a team you try to shake off and you get on the next week and it is what it is. I said this yesterday; I think Rod (Marinelli) and those guys do a great job. I think there's an element to how they play and what they do and a belief in their system. And I think that works and you see it on film and there's an enthusiasm about how they play. And I think that's a combination of no confidence, but also talent and a good scheme. So I think that that's why they're a good defense.

With the secondary really quick, all the guys have shown a lot of talent, big plays, and yet maybe the team's pass defense rankings aren't exactly where they'd like it to be right now in terms of yards allowed. How do you see where they're at at this point in this season, going into a game against a team like Dallas?
"We just covered the numbers. We cover them each week. I'd liken it to be in a class with 16 exams and we're looking at their grade and ranking after three weeks. And yet, the grading and ranking is not what's most important. What's most important is winning. And so that being said though, some of these numbers that we discussed can lead to winning or the other way around. Those are the things that we're focused on."

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