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Transcript - Sean Payton Conference Call 10/28/20 | Week 8 vs. Bears

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks about evaluating Alvin Kamara in the draft process, facing the Chicago Bears defense, and hurricane preparations during his weekly conference call.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Bears pass defense, what have you seen out of them this season? And what do they do?
"Well, a couple things. I think they're talented on the back end personnel wise, they give you a mixture of schemes, they'll play some quarters look with a press technique, they'll mix up some cover one looks. And I've said this before, they do a real good job of rocking the safeties, and then the rush that complements the coverage. All those things have been good as you watch the tape. They're playing with great technique. You see them break on the ball, they've turned the ball over, they have good ball skills, and they're smart."

You guys have had a pretty lopsided time of possession the last three games, is there a benchmark you're looking for when you enter a game?
"No, look, you want to win the time of possession. Oftentimes, it's the byproduct of executing in the run or the passing game on early downs, but it would be we would go with without saying to say, 'Hey, we want to we want to get to this number.' I think it's more or less something you have to earn in. It's like when someone says we'll just rush the ball 28 times, 30 times in a game and you're going to win. Well, that has to be a byproduct of a time of possession. That has to be a byproduct of finishing on third downs well, or else you don't have the number of snaps to do those things."

Have you have to change much in your schedule with the impending hurricane?
"Yeah, we're going to, after practice, try to get these guys out of here a little earlier, and catch up the film work tomorrow."

With the protocols being what they are, is there any chance (Emmanuel Sanders) can play for you Sunday? Or have you guys already kind of had to rule him out?
"Well, we haven't had to do anything. And what we'll do is just keep track as we go and and go from there. But we haven't made any announcements, but I'll keep you posted."

Is it correct that he would not be eligible to return before Sunday to any activity though under the rules?
"Yeah, you can ask Mickey (Loomis) that question. We keep getting updates and changes. I think we're in the double secret probation or the next phase relative to this. Look, we're talking about Emmanuel (Sanders) I'm assuming, right? Yeah, I don't know, but I'm not going to give you an answer anyway."

I wanted to ask you about Alvin Kamara in particular, you've described him over the years as a smart player. Could you articulate that? Is that his ability to pick up stuff in the passing game? The load you all put on him? Or is it his in game intuition or all of the above?
"All of the above. I'll give you an example. We've drafted, signed very smart players out of college that, on the football field, maybe needed repetitions or weren't instinctive. Conversely, the league's full of players that may not have been very academically smart or players or students that may have appeared to have been not very smart, and yet on the field, they're extremely intelligent and instinctive. He's both. He rarely surprises the quarterback in the passing game relative to his routes. He understands protections, he can pick things up very quick during the week, and he just has a great ability to learn. And then great instincts as he applies it to the game."

Going back to the draft, is that something you all evaluated and knew about him?
"Absolutely. When we worked him out. It wasn't there pro day. We'd flown in, had dinner the night before. There were nine players from Tennessee. Oh, a defensive end that went to Philly (Derek Barnett) and a handful of other players. He was one of them. Dinner the night before, the group was impressive, all of them. And then the next day when we had workouts, each coach that was there took a player that was there. I took the running back. I took Alvin, there weren't any other running backs and we went through a series of (drills), it's hard to test someone's running ability so we worked more in the passing game. But we talked about the passing game. And right away I, it became very apparent he picked things up quickly. That exposure was that good that when we left, I immediately thought that was going to be that was going to be pick 2-11 really (in the second round). And then Marcus (Williams) fell and we were able to get back into the third and take Alvin. That's exactly what happened."

Everybody talks about being able to or wanting to stop the run, but what goes into consistently doing it as well as this team has the last three plus seasons?
"Yeah, well, look, it starts with pad level, fitting your gap, all the techniques that are involved. Tackling properly, good eyes. There's a series of things, generally speaking, that that are in place. We'll need to be able to do that again this week, because these guys will be committed to running the football and complementing their defense."

I'm curious if you have any update on Mike Thomas?
"No updates, no injury updates, nothing. Zero."

I wanting to get your thoughts on your (offensive) line's performance. They've given up eight sacks. What are your thoughts on their growth?
"Listen, I think we are hopefully continuing to ascend. We have had a few injuries. Terron (Armstead) last week. Obviously, Nick (Easton) and periodically a couple guys have had to step in. I think we've improved week to week, and it's part of the three games we've won. And I feel like that not only the protection, but the consistency in the running game."

When you guys are running the two minute drill, how much is emotion a part of that just like staying neutral and making sure that nothing gets too high or too low? How key is that for the success for Drew (Brees) and also for you guys, as coaches just making sure that everything stays pretty low?
"Yeah, I mean, it's happening fast. There's no, I mean, it's really just hearing the clock numbers, knowing where the clock is, knowing where the timeouts are. It's something I think Drew excels at relative to his ability to see what the defense is given him, finding the right targets. We got in a unique situation last week, it was that precarious. We were right at five seconds, four seconds there, and if we're going to take a shot to the endzone, let's make sure we have a second left to kick a field goal. He did a great job of coming off a primary and found Deonte (Harris) right there in the endzone. That was a big play."

He's always been really good at it, but as he's gotten older, has he got even better at managing those situations and executing them?
"I think his experience, certainly the experience over the years has served him well and I think you'd have to ask him, I think there's a comfort level relative to what he's wanting, I think the challenge sometimes is when the pieces are different maybe and the work with certain receivers, because of some injuries. But clearly, he has a grasp as to how he wants to go about it. We talk towards the end of the week, relative to our sub packages, empty, two by two, three by one, and then what we think are plays he's going to want to feature. Obviously, how they defend him sometimes or a team might be different."

Drew (Brees) has run those two minute drills over and over and over in games, practice and all that, but is there still an element to that where he's just a guy who is kind of cool in those pressure situations where that sort of doesn't phase him?
"Yes, part of that's operating in the pocket. Part of that is confidence. I say it all the time. He's demonstrated time and time again that this can be successful. And I think there's a confidence that comes from him to the other players, even the offensive linemen. Hey, I need three seconds here, the balls coming out. Let's hurry to the ball. There's a belief that we're going to move the football and I think that's based on the confidence over the years and the confidence everyone else has with the quarterback in charge of it."

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