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Transcript: Head Coach Sean Payton weekly conference call - January 2, 2020

Sean Payton speaks to media prior to the Saints Wildcard playoff matchup against the Vikings

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, January 2, 2020

How effective are the Vikings on play action plays?
"These pieces fit together. I think, number one, they do a great job in their running game. They get to the edge, obviously they are extremely talented at running back. The type of season (Dalvin) Cook has had it's been real impressive. When they move you defensively and then they come off of that with a heavy play action, that's a challenge. Those wide zone teams that do a good job of setting up patterns down the field, that can not only give the quarterback an extra half a second to throw it, but they can give the route, an extra five to 10 yards to get into your defense, which can be challenging."

What do you remember about Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara in the 2017 Draft and I guess how does his availability change the offense for them?
"Well, I think it's substantial. I think anytime you have the production of a guy like that and we've seen it with runners throughout the season. I think it is very important. He has extremely good balance. He's a strong runner and has outstanding speed. You watch countless 15 to 25 yard gains by him and that's hard to do."

How crucial was Teddy Bridgewater's stretch to the playoff seeding of this team and during the stretch that Drew Brees was out do you think that he kind of shaped the character of the team?
"I just think week three, four, five, six, seven that you can't plan for something like that. And then what took place was we began to gain that confidence even more defensively. We began to feel like (we can continue to win games) and most importantly, we held serve while Drew was getting healthy and if you a split those games or when half of them, lose half of them. It's a whole different type of year and I just think he was part of that and I think that was kind of a pivotal point for our team to figure out, Hey, how can we handle this adversity? And not one person was going to just become Drew Brees, but everyone had to pick up the specifics and we had to find a way to win each one of those weeks. I think directly towards Teddy, he was prepared, ready for the opportunity. It has been a while and yet what I mean for him, it's him getting back on the horse here in the regular season. And all of a sudden winning, getting better, winning again, winning again and each week his confidence (increased), I just think it was an important part of what became a 13-win season and the importance of having a number two that can do that."

How much do you get involved recruiting undrafted free agents after the draft?
"Pretty much we're in a big room, with probably 28 people in there and it's kind of broken down into groups and groups are (for example) working on three or four people, working on the offensive linemen, generally the O-line coach and his assistant and then a scout and then a personnel guy. And then the receivers (are) over (in another area going through a similar process) and this is going on and so I'm kind of the baton, trying to get on the phone with guys that are close or the guys that we prioritized initially. Yeah, it's hard to (describe), I would like to film that two hours after the draft because it's a pretty interesting (setup)."

Was Shy Tuttle on the top of the priority undrafted free agent list?
"Yes, definitely. We had a handful and he was one of them. It's hard to find interior linemen offensively and defensively, because there just aren't that many body types."

How did you feel like the rookie class performed overall this season?
"I think well and you just have to look at the contributions we're receiving from each of these guys. C.J.'s (Gardner-Johnson) is on the field a ton now. When you are able to pick up a (Shy) Tuttle and a Deonte Harris, aside from your selections, those are significant, but I think overall real well. (Erik) McCoy (second round), obviously we did not have a one. I think we hit on a handful of players."

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