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Transcript - Sean Payton Conference Call 10/8/20 | Week 5 vs. Chargers

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton discusses preparations for the upcoming "Monday Night Football" matchup against the Chargers during his weekly conference call.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, October 8, 2020

Thoughts on Chargers rookie running back Josh Kelley?
"I think we'll see him, I think we'll see a little bit of a running back by committee. Obviously you lose a good player like (Austin) Ekeler for a period of time, you don't want to see that, but we're still going to have to defend that offense and they present some challenges relative to the zone read, relative to some of your option schemes, things that you may not see on a regular basis."

On Monday, you said people don't care about the excuses and want to see the results, but are you almost at a point of what can happen next in terms of some of Hurricane Delta?
"I think we're fortunate right where we are going to be able to stay (in New Orleans) and this storm is staying a little bit towards the west of us. So we're trying to really focus on this game, focus on what we have to do to improve as a team here after four weeks, there are still a number of things that are painfully glaring. That's what we're tasked to do right now and get ready to play this team. And this team's played well, they've played in a lot of close games, they were ahead last week 24-7 before the half. You just watch the film and you can see the quality of the team we are playing. We know this team well. We practices with them three times in the last four years."

Is there too much turnover to count on basing the Chargers on what you saw last year for some of the evaluations?
"I think you see a similar system defensively. I'm sure they feel the same way with us. Offensively, obviously there are jersey numbers and players that move in and out. I think there's been some staff change and yet to some degree there's nuances, I'm sure both teams will be familiar with just from having that exposure during training camp and it's always been a good exposure. We compete, practice hard, yet we've never had any issues. I've known Anthony a long time and I think he feels the same way. We feel like our teams can practice and get work done without it becoming a sideshow."

Is there anything in particular after the first quarter where you want to see your team improve immediately and in this second quarter?
"Situationally defensively, there are some numbers that are decent, but our third down defense and red zone defense are going to have to improve. Offensively, I think our consistency related to our protections, our run game, it was better last week and yet there's still breakdowns in our schemes that we can clean up and shore up relative to throwing the football. Those would be some specifics. I thought last week, we were okay in the kicking game. We almost had a PAT blocked, so that's going to resurface. We actually had one blocked. It was just close enough to where it was still good. Our location and directional punting has to be better. We're going to play teams with other good returners. That field position we're counting on."

What is your assessment of the offense the last three games without a key player like Mike Thomas available?
"It's result-oriented. It's been okay. I was pleased last week with what we were able to do there in the second quarter. I thought our third down numbers were good and we had good balance. I thought the tempo was good. All of those things helped us, but there's still a lot of details that I think need to be cleaned up a lot."

With Taysom Hill playing fewer snaps at special teams is that related to his development at quarterback?
"It's strictly the two kickoff units. That was something we decided at the beginning of the year."

Your offensive tempo Sunday seemed like the best all season, is there an adjustment in terms of the tempo when Jared Cook and Michael Thomas eventually return?
"You don't just slide back in. We have nearly a whole week to see where these injured guys are. We have a number of guys on this list. I'm hopeful with some of them, some of them maybe not as hopeful. We'll see what the week looks like. The tempo is the shifts, the motion, the in and and out of the huddle, that's something that's unwavering, that's something that we've always been very good at."

What have you seen with Justin Herbert so far?
"He has very good arm talent. He can throw off body from some funny body positions. H He made some big plays last week. I've been impressed. He's tall, has a real good arm, we obviously remember him through the draft process. Quickly identifying some of the things that he's doing well and finding ways to try to neutralize those things, but I think he's played real well."

Has the ability to make these off-script throws become more prevalent the last few years?
"Some guys can, some guys can't. The plus is that we don't live in a clean protection world. The pocket moves, there's a little pressure, we get flushed sometimes, we have to scramble sometimes, we have to step up sometimes. It certainly affords you some more opportunities to get rid of the ball on time and I think some guys naturally do it better than others."

What goes into the improvement situationally on defense?
"Practice, the repetitions, the meeting, the film and the attention to detail and the technique itself, all of the above."

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