New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
What was the thought process that went into claiming Janoris Jenkins?
"We value the player, especially the position. It's always a difficult position to find. He's a guy that I can recall going through the evaluation process when he was a free agent and going to New York. We've played the Giants twice since then (so we've seen him), but he gives us versatility and I think that's important here down the stretch."
In a situation like that, you obviously have to make quick decisions on how you think they'll fit the locker room, the culture. Are you able to do that?
"Absolutely, because the homework was done earlier and then it's a small world here and I think (there are) a lot of good resources for us to help us with that. That would be very common, yes."
I know he's played mostly on the outside, but also played a little in the slot. Is the versatility key or do you know what vision you have for him already?
"We'll see. We think that he does have position flex. He's smart and this is a short week obviously now coming off a Monday game. But, he's in the building and working right now, meeting and doing all the things that everyone else is doing."
Do you see him competing for a starting job?
"We'll just see how it goes."
Did you guys also put in a claim for (Terrell) Suggs. I know you've talked about him in the past?
"Yes we did. Look again, you have a player like that that can rush the passer. I think three or four teams did and Kansas City based on the order was awarded."
This will be the first time you faced Ryan Tannehill since 2013. What's your sense of the arc of his career?
"(We are) kind of familiar with the player and knowing where he's from. We've seen a lot of tape on him. He's playing real well right now. They're 6-2 with him as their starter and they've been impressive relative to the big plays. Every week on a Monday, I'll come in and look at every touchdown scored in the NFL. It'll start on the one yard line. So you see all the goal line plays and the reel will be sorted closest to longest. This reel will go to the two, the five, the 10 and then pretty soon the last play I watch will be the longest touchdown of the weekend. I would say every week I've seen either a long run by their runner (Derrick Henry) for a touchdown, a quick strike play-action pass, they've done a nice job."
I know you've mentioned in the past that a change of scenery is not necessarily a panacea for a player who may not have lived up to expectations, but to what role is that with like a quarterback? Obviously, Drew (Brees) had a change of scenery coming here, but how do you view that?
"Look, there's so much that goes into the fit, the scheme, division. Not any one case is the same as another, but I think a lot of it is finding the right fit relative to what vision does the team, the club, the coaches have. And then, remember when you're at that position, it's still about winning first. I think that's the thing that stands out when you watch them now. When they went on that four game winning streak, they were playing a complementary game offensively and defensively, in the special teams. They were doing all the things necessary to win football games and he was part of that."
The Titans have Derrick Henry, would you say his playing style is rare compared to other running backs in the league today?
"Well, he's a guy that if he gets into your defense, he's has the speed and man a magnificent stiff arm. He has balance, he's strong. We faced a similar type of runner, earlier in the year down in Jacksonville (Leonard Fournette) and so you have to populate the football. Each week he's having the success he's having and that offensive line is playing well. There's a physical nature to how they play and I think that if you let him get into your defense frequently it will be a long day."
How would you explain the increase in offensive production the last few games?
"We're a little healthier, certainly I think we'd like to feel like as the season's gone on and we're constantly working to improve. I mean, look, there were weeks where we won, but we were still weren't on point and that doesn't mean anything's guaranteed this next week. I thought a lot of it is, not just opponent driven, but it's also, where we're at from an experience standpoint and get some of the other guys involved. And this week we'll present a different challenge, a different defense. But that's something that you stay on as coaches to work on. There's so many things offensively that you have to do well to be consistent and I think that's paramount. I think the players around Drew (Brees), the guys painting the picture the tight ends, the running backs, the receivers. How we properly paint the picture within the passing game and then also the ability to run the football. We're working to improve and by no means feel like we've arrived."
Do you it's cool that Deonte Harris an undrafted, Division II return man in his rookie season made the Pro Bowl?
"That's a tremendous recognition and honor. I told them they voted on it prior to his fumble though. It's always a tough part of the year because it comes right in the thick of the season and it's going to be a television show and there's that handful of calls you're making that you're excited about. Then there's a handful of calls, quite honestly, you're disappointed and upset because a player that you feel like is very deserving was either overlooked or undervalued relative to (the others). It's challenging and yet I think everyone in that locker room right now has their sights set on other games than that."
How would you assess Eli Apple's play and does the cornerback position have more ebbs and flows over the course of the season?
"Yeah, I think it's a position that's a challenging position. We play a lot of man coverage. I think Eli has been a real good and real consistent player for us throughout the course of the year. We like his sizes, his length. I think that, we've seen some good offenses and they've got to have a short memory and I think they have to be able to tackle. I think that's important. I think that's why it's a tough position to find."