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Transcript - Sean Payton Conference Call 1/1/21 | Week 17 at Panthers

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton addresses local media on Friday, January 1, 2021.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, January 1, 2021

No one has swept the NFC South since realignment in 2002. What does that say about the talent in this division year in and year out?
"Yeah. Look, the first thing is, relative to football, it's not a long period of time. I mean, '02 was the realignment. And I don't know if that's the only division that that's not happened to."

Amie Just: It's the only one.
"Is it? So, look, there's been a lot of back and forth. And every year, you start your goal with winning your division. That's the first goal. I don't know that you ever start your year with, hey, we have to win the division and sweep the division. The goal is to win the division and then work on getting the best possible seed. So look, (getting) this win (in) this game coming up, there are other things that are, I would say more important than having that relative to history."

I know he's been hurt some this season, but just how's it been to have Ty Montgomery around? And what's he been like behind the scenes?
"Good. He's a versatile player. He plays a lot at the receiver position. He can play a lot at the running back, he does a lot of things. And he's someone that has explosiveness. He's good with the ball in his hands after the catch. So he's a guy that gives us special teams snaps as well. He does a lot of things for us."

How has Alex Anzalone handled some of the ups and downs of this year, more specifically, just having reduced snaps on defense after the trade for Kwon Alexander?
"Yeah, listen, he's been great. And when it happened, I talked to him and just said, hey, this is always a long season. Stay focused, continue to improve each week. And he's done that. Fortunately, we have that depth. And we're going to count on him. And he's someone that has played a lot of snaps for us. But, I thought he handled it well."

Do you think maybe he's kind of suited to handling some of these disappointments just because his career, he's had injuries and stuff like that? So he's had to overcome a lot, I guess, the last three years or so?
"Yeah, he's a tough-minded guy. I think he has that grit. All the way back he was a tremendous high school player. You're right, he's had some shoulder problems coming out, the same way, he's constantly fought back and I think that's a credit or testament to him."

He was a fullback in high school at one point, right?
"I feel like all these guys were a running back at one point."

This is your third decade, thinking about it when you first started in 2006. And now three decades into being a Saints coach, how special is that?
"Yeah. Listen, when you say three decades that makes me feel old. I never take for granted, we've had, I think a real functional working environment. And that starts with Mrs. Benson, our ownership, and Mickey (Loomis) and Dennis Lauscha, the assistant coaches and then to the players we're acquiring. In a league where there's a lot of dysfunction, you know, it is hard enough in our league to win and it becomes harder if all the elements aren't in concert. And I never take that for granted. It does not seem that long. It seems like seven or eight years, but obviously it's longer than that."

Do you know if you will have CJ Gardner-Johnson available Sunday?
"Yeah. You're not talking about this Sunday?"

Just with the changing rules and everything I'm just trying to keep up with them.
"Yeah, right now, the way I understand it, it would be hard, I think for this Sunday."

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