New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders
Video call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, November 12, 2020
We're eight games into the season and I know you've been on Super Bowl teams before in the past. Are there some similarities in this Saints team and some of those other Super Bowl teams you've been on?
"Definitely. And we're starting to find our way. (It is) Too early to even be talking about the Super Bowl. We still got eight games left and are trying to keep the number one seed, right. But, that is the reason why I came here. I came here to win a championship. And I knew this was the making of a championship team. We started off, rough. But as of lately, it seems like everything's starting to click. We are starting to get everybody back healthy. We're starting to be fully united in terms of just the whole squad out there. And I think last week's performance set the bar for how good we can be. So, we've got to stay there."
As an offense you guys are, I believe have the second best starting average position for your drives. And, kind of an obvious question, but how does that help the offense, you know, getting more favorable field position?
"Oh, man, it feels good when you look out there and the ball's at the 45 yard line. That is like, you know if you go 40 yards, you've got an opportunity for a field goal. And then you're closer to the scoring points. And when you look in the huddle and you've got Drew Brees. And you've got all the talent that we've got, with O-line and Alvin Kamara. And you know, Michael Thomas out there, it felt like we were more than capable of doing it. So, if we can just keep that, that'll be good. I remember '15 when I won a Super Bowl, like, Gary Kubiak was like, big on field position. And field position is huge. And so, if you can win the field position battle and capitalize on it, that's a recipe for success. And so, we've have to maintain that."
How much has the special teams unit here, you know, kind of maybe quietly contributed to that?
"Definitely. We have an all-pro returner, in Deonte Harris. And he's dangerous, right. Like he's one of those guys where, when they're punting to him, you're looking like, alright, like this could go to the house at any moment. And so, when you've got a guy like that back there, the sky's the limit. And thank God, he's on our team."
The last home game they allowed some fans. And this one it is going up to 6,000 (fans). I'm just curious atmospherically and just even competitively, is there any difference for you guys having some people in the stadium as opposed to it being empty?
"I think I've grown to like, be used to it, right. At first, it was weird. But now like, I'm used to it. But when we went out to Tampa, I'll tell you, like having fans in the stands, like, it felt weird. With the crowd noise and trying to hear everything, it was just different. I don't know if I liked it or not. But, just having fans I think just with crowd noise. And just semi feeling that, that high from the fans, it felt good. So, hopefully we can have the same this weekend."
In San Fran with (Kyle) Shanahan, he's kind of a creative coach with how he uses his personnel and his groupings and everything. And then, Sean (Payton) does that stuff too. Are there any similarities you see, just in their approach and how they design an offense?
"Yeah, they both call plays that work. And how they hit you, you never know how they are going to hit you. Kyle (Shanahan), how he schemes up this run game. I've never seen nobody scheme up the run game how Kyle schemes it up. And just the plays he called and the way he goes about his business. He was literally born to be an NFL head coach, if you look at his background. And Sean Payton comes up under Bill Parcells. And very smart, very calculated, very on the top of things in terms of predicting what the defense is going to do and putting us in good situations. And so, both of them are exceptionally great coaches. And I'm fortunate to be able to play for guys like them."
Obviously, you are going to still prepare the same way this week. But, with it being the 49ers, does it feel a little different going up against the team that used to play for?
"Truthfully like, they're all blind faces. That's just how I feel like, I know the 49ers are coming in here. But for me, like I just want to win. I enjoyed my time over there though. Everybody in that building, I can say, from the cooks, from everybody, to the janitors. Man, I loved everybody in that building, because every day that I walked in there, they hit me with so much positive energy. And it starts with Kyle (Shanahan). Kyle sets the tone. He's a very positive dude, but he also is about working. And the same amount of work that we put in, we have fun as well. But we worked our butts off. So, I enjoy being over there. But, you know, I texted Wes Welker, me and him were texting probably like two or three weeks ago. And I told him, we're about to kick y'all ass (laughter). And he kind of laughed back. But, I want to kick their ass (laughter) and then after the game we can hug it out. But this is going to be fun, right. Just to play against guys who I was on the same team as last year. And you know, and go at it and compete. And that's what it's about."
What's stood out to you about the Saints culture since you got here. Has it been any different or similar to anywhere else you've been? How do you think Kwon Alexander fits in here?
"I think Kwon fits in here very well. He's a team-first player. He works his butt off. He makes his plays. He does his job. He repeats it the next day. He's what I call a low-maintainence guy, you don't have to put a lot of time into him. You know he's going to do the right thing. We're blessed to have him, looking forward to seeing how he fits into our defense and I know he's going to bring the energy. He's an energetic player. That's a good pickup for us."
What do you remember about this same matchup last year, especially given your standout performance?
"I've played so much football. It's not a game I think about all the time. One thing I do remember about that is that we did need that game and I remember how extremely focused I was. I remember leaving San Fran we were gone for two weeks, we spent time in Florida because we had two games pretty much on the east coast. We played at Baltimore and lost to Baltimore and then after that game I remember we went to Florida and were hanging out there. There was a sense of urgency that we needed that game. I just had the feeling it was going to be the battle for the number one seed. After that game it felt so great leaving New Orleans with a win and going back to San Fran knowing that we probably secured the number one seed. Obviously we had a couple more games to play against Seattle, but at that time, that was the factor."
Are you waiting for Sean Payton to put in a pass play for you like Kyle Shanahan did in that game?
"We'll see. We might have some tricks up our sleeve (laughter). We'll see."
What was your personal reaction when you heard the Saints traded for Kwon Alexander?
"One thing about me, when I first got here, I thought I was new. I feel like I adjusted well. Me and Mike (Thomas) have grown close. Me and Tre'Quan (Smith) have grown close. Me and Curtis Johnson have grown close. Everyone on the team, me and Cam Jordan. This is a team with good players, but also even better people. I wasn't really excited for our team. I was happy for Kwon to be able to come over and join this team and be a part of something where I think we can win it all. To have him is huge for us, just having his energy and positivity around."
Is there anything about Marquez Callaway that stands out to you behind the scenes maybe his approach in the classroom?
"Yes, he's a young dude that makes plays. Every time you see him he's making a play. He showcased it in training camp. I've seen him catch a 15-yard pass and take it to the house and he's dangerous. He can be a home run hitter. It hasn't shown yet. But he has that capability. He's only going to get better and better for him. Because he's so young. He pays attention, wants to be great and I respect guys like that and enjoy being around guys like that."
What do you remember about the Superdome environment in the game last year?
"It was electrifying. It was a lot of San Francisco fans in there too. That dome was rocking but everytime I come to the dome it's rocking. That was part of the reason why I wanted to play in New Orleans. I said I wanted to play in front of that crowd. It was electrifying, so hopefully I'll be able to see that at some point. That game was crazy. That game was the greatest game I played in and I've played in Super Bowls, but with two offensive-minded head coaches going at it like it was Madden. It was unbelievable to be a part of and watch."