New Orleans Saints Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
What is the best Christmas gift you have ever received?
"Oh, man. Probably last year, my wife got me a like, I forgot what the thing is called. But, it's like a portable game thing that I can take, literally, it comes with a TV. I can put my PlayStation in there and I can just carry it, like when we go on vacation and stuff. And I can still play Call of Duty and Madden and kick it when I want to relax away from the kids a little bit. So yeah, I think that's definitely the best. And probably like, thinking when I was younger, my dad had bought me a pair of baby blue Jordans. And I've never forgotten that gift. Probably, one of my favorite gifts of all time."
Well, first of all, which pair of Jordans?
"It was 11s."
Drew (Brees) and Mike (Thomas) have only played 10 quarters together, you've obviously missed some time this season. Do you feel like, and this might be weird to ask in late December, but do you feel you guys are still possibly forming your identity or just scratching the surface of what you can do as an offense?
"Yeah, you know, I don't really spend too much time thinking about that. I just, you know, I try to think about just winning games. You know, I think the ceiling, right, for us, if Sean Payton wants to open it up, the ceiling could be high. Just because I know what I'm capable of doing, I know what Mike (Thomas) is capable of doing and I know what Drew's (Brees) is capable of doing. So, you know, obviously, the ceilings can be high. But, at the end of the day, I go and not worrying about my stats, not worried about nothing but just trying to be a good one on this team, keep everybody alike, keep everybody, you know, making sure that they understand how blessed we are to even play this game. And, but at the same time, we're trying to work towards a common goal, to try to bring a championship to New Orleans. So, I try not to worry about too much stuff other than that."
Did you always have that perspective? Or is that something that you've gained as you've gotten older and deeper into your career?
"If you would've called me like, five, six years ago, I'd come on the media and be like, hey, you need to give me the ball. Like, I need the ball. Like, I'm trying to, yeah, I'm trying to go to the Pro Bowl, I'm trying, you know. And I guess, you know, with time you start to see. Yeah, and I was always about trying to win the Super Bowls, too. But it was more just trying to, and it wasn't so much that I wanted, I just wanted to show the world my talents, because I felt like I worked so hard. And it's still the same thing now, but it's just, I'm not going to go out and force it. It's one of those things that I'm just going to let my tape speak for itself and let somebody else speak for me. But you know, but yeah, I'm enjoying my time here."
Your touchdown reception against Philadelphia. Can you just give me I guess a degree of difficulty on that, and talk me through the play if you would?
"It's crazy because like when I had done it, I didn't even notice that it was like a difficult catch. Like I just caught it. And then when I went back and watched the replay of it, I was like, damn, like that was actually a really good catch and caught it with one hand. But, I was just so in the moment of just trying to cut the deficit, to try to cut the deficit and try to get out with a win. But you know, it was a play that we've had in for like two weeks. It was literally a boot play, in which Taysom (Hill) acted like we were running a naked to the right and tried to get the safety to bite. And me, my job was to pretty much sell the corner, I'm running a corner route on normal naked rules and then just striking back all the way across the field. Taysom just lobbed it up and gave me an opportunity and I just tried to capitalize on that."
I know you guys usually have that like 24 hour rule. But I know, I also heard a lot of guys talking about taking this loss and learning from it and kind of using it as like a stepping stone to get back out. So do you have to like, I don't know, hold on to this one a little bit longer than you normally would?
"I think like, we were on a nine-game winning streak. And so, you step back and it's a feeling that, you know, we're not used to. And then, we had the number one seed and we lost the number one seed. So, that kind of affects you a little bit more as well. But it's one of those things you just got to get over. I can tell you this, one thing about this team is that it don't matter if we got the number one seed or not. Wherever we go, they're going to have to give us their best shot in order to beat us. And so, yeah, the number one seed, it sounds good. You get to play in New Orleans. And you know, be in New Orleans, home field advantage. But, at the end of the day, like when playoffs start, it don't matter. A football field is 100 yards, certain amount wide. You got 11 players on the field, we got to go out and try to win a game. Nothing happens with like, the COVID, protocols, like fans, it's really no different. There's no crowd noise, nothing crazy, that's going to, like, take you out of the element, besides the fact that you got to travel."
Obviously, this is your first year on the team. Do you see any correlation between the culture of the locker room and organization and the depth that we've kind of seen develop on the field? Whether it's guys wanting to come and play there, real talented guys wanting to be a part of this team or accepting the roles they're given. That kind of thing?
"Yeah, I think Sean Payton, I know coming here to play with Drew Brees and Sean Payton, it's legendary. Who wouldn't want to play with that legendary pair. So for me, like, that's one thing that I've just been appreciating, how they work, how they work together, how well they work. But as far as the culture of this team, everybody knows you go to New Orleans, you're going to win games. And to be a part of that is special."
You're one of the few people on the team that's been on the same field with Patrick Mahomes. Was it's just sort of like watching him play?
"I mean, he's a special player. Every time you think you've got him, you really don't have him and I've been a part of like three games like that where I'm like, yeah, we got him. And then next thing you know, he just does some spectacular stuff you've never seen. Like I think about the Denver game, when we had him. He was just a young guy like he's rolling out to the left, he's got the ball in his right hand and he takes the ball and throws the ball in his left hand to Tyreek Hill on a big third down and that conversion pretty much beat us. Then last year in the Super Bowl we got him and he just drops a dime to Tyreek hill on third and 15. So he's one of the players that you know going in it's going to take all four quarters to beat him because at any moment he can explode on the scene, he could get the blinking like on Madden and then next thing like, it's out of control so you've definitely got to be in a game with him for four straight quarters."
What else stands out about that team, whether it's all of the weapons that they have on offense, on defense, special teams too? You've played against them several times.
"I think just when you speak of the Chiefs, they've just got a legendary team right now from Travis Kelce, a tight end, leading the league in yards from Tyreek Hill to Patrick Mahomes to the Honey Badger (Tyrann Mathieu). They have just got players upon players over there, and they play well, and they play confident, and then they've get Andy Reid who's a great coach in my opinion as well. And so every week, you know that they're going to come ready to play. Like I said, they're a team that you've got to play all four quarters, you cannot let off the gas with you guys. Because at any moment Tyreek Hill can go 80 yards at any moment. Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes could find their groove at any moment. The Honey Badger could change the dynamic of the game and so we have got to be prepared to play four quarters of football no matter what the results are. I do not care if we're winning by 20, 30. We've still got to go at it because we have seen them in the playoffs versus the Texans. The Texans had them, right? The year they won the Super Bowl the Texans had them and next thing you know they came back. So it's going to be a game that we've got to play all four quarters."
When you're looking at their defense, it looks like they've forced a ton of turnovers. Has anything kind of stood out to you when you're watching them?
"They want to play man, they want to get in your face, they're okay with OPIs. I think they're the most penalized secondary in the league the past two years. They want to get in your face, they want to play bump and run and I'm looking forward to that. I feel like I've got an array of releases that I'm looking forward to using and getting open on and playing football because to me, like, man to man is football to me. As of lately, we've had teams come on and play a lot more zone, a lot more cover two on us, but I like teams to play man to man, bump and run. Let's just get in our face, that's what we do, let's go at it."
Kind of piggybacking on the last question, but when you faced him in the Super Bowl, what types of things, I'm sure your schemes are different offensively, but the types of things that they tried to do to get you all out of rhythm?
"I think it's just really man to man and letting Frank Clark and those guys just go to work. Obviously, they try to disrupt the timing of the play by playing man to man. When you've got an offense with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, I think the way that they play defense is smart, right? Because obviously they're going to give up chunk plays, they're going to give up big plays, but if you play a bump and ran man and you know that you're going to put a points then you know that, like, if you plan bump and run man and you've got a quarterback who's not accurate then more than likely they're not going to be able to move the ball and if you go against the quarterback who can, obviously, you can exploit the man to man. But at the same time, I think that they're well balanced team with how they play offense and how they play defense. So I mean, it's a formula that they got them a Super Bowl, so they're not going to change."
Going back to Patrick Mahomes, have you ever seen a guy who can throw so accurately at such weird angles? When you watch him, does that strike you? I mean, his hips and feet sometimes he seems so wrong and then the passes are on the money. Does that strike you?
"Yeah, I've played with a lot of great quarterbacks from Ben (Roethlisberger) to Peyton (Manning) to Drew (Brees) and I've never played with a quarterback like him. The only other quarterback that I've seen that makes weird throws like that, all awkward, was in 2010 when I saw Aaron Rodgers just off back foot throws, just ridiculous, like just dimes on the money. Those two are legendary quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes, obviously, we all know what he's capable of doing. He's the highest paid player in the league. He won the Super Bowl last year. We all know what he's capable of doing, but at the end of the day, I still want to go out and beat him. That's the goal at the end of the day."