New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, November 13, 2020
A bit of an obvious question, but you guys are second in the league in starting field position. My question is mainly, how much has that been an emphasis for you guys? And what are some of the areas that that benefits?
"Well, look, it benefits everything because it's hidden yardage. It's all your percentages scoring wise, where do you start with the football? It's a big part of our kicking game. But it's also, there's a sequence last week where we get the ball on the one yard line, half yard line, coming out and two first downs, or 20 yards, puts the ball back in a neutral field position. Now fortunately, we were able to get more yards and then I think we punted that series. But that's a significant example of the opponent starting as opposed to midfield on their end of the field. And so whether it's the return game, whether it's the coverage unit, defense or offense, all of it directly contributes to scoring. And if you study hidden yardage as it relates to points, I think you can see then the significance."
Yesterday, Emmanuel Sanders talked about it was the most exciting game he'd ever been a part of, the 49ers, Saints game last year. Even though the Saints didn't win it, how fun was that game for you? And just what do you remember about that atmosphere for that regular season game?
"Well, look, we were just talking about it. You want to watch the tape early in the week, I just finish watching it a third time. Obviously, there were a ton of flows to that game, so many different elements to it. You don't remember them all until you watch it again. Good for the offenses, not as good for the defenses and yeah, just the lead changes and everything that took place was certainly unique."
Speaking of the atmosphere, obviously fans, no fans has been a big topic this season. It's 6000 now, it's still not 10%, but do you have maybe have like a message for the people that are going to come or anything you hope to see from the fans even though it's only 6000. It's still more than what you've been playing in front of.
"Yeah, and look, our last home game we noticed the difference from the very beginning where it was completely sterile. As we progress through the season and continue to have more fans, we certainly appreciate it and feel the difference. And so yeah, that is something that, there is just such a passion with our with our fan base that that little bit matters."
You guys have been able to drastically reduce the penalties these last several games. I guess you can't really go through a whole new method of teaching, but is it mostly just discipline now?
"Well, there's several elements to it. The crew we have this week is the crew we had when we played Green Bay. I think we had nine penalties in that game so that's certainly been a point of emphasis this week. It is good to see those numbers drop. That's going to be important for us not only in this game, but moving forward."
With Demario (Davis) getting more snaps at the Mike linebacker, what do you guys get out of having him at that spot as opposed to the weak side?
"There's so much nickel played that he is playing the same position. So you're really talking about the handful of snaps when we're in base defense. He's comfortable with it. Again, it's not been a drastic change. But we feel like it's our best lineup."
Has this been the lowest amount of base you guys have played with the more dime stuff that you guys are doing? I think it's probably like, feels like 20 snaps probably the whole season.
"Well, forget dime or forget nickel. We've been in both on third down. We've been in a handful of personnel packages, but to your original question, how much base, a lot of it is opponent driven. These guys run the football extremely well. And so you're really studying personnel packages and making those decisions."
When you're adding a player midseason like you guys did with Kwon (Alexander), how much goes into seeing whether that player will be a culture fit, if any, like, do you guys go reach out to old coaches and stuff?
"Everyone. Yeah, absolutely we do. Just the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and that's really encouraging. But yes."
You have had some great offensive linemen that have played for you like Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks. Do you see any similar traits in (Erik) McCoy and (Cesar) Ruiz? And if so, what are they?
"Well, look, these guys are young players. Obviously, with McCoy, he's come in day one, as a rookie started at center. He's strong, he's powerful, he's smart, loves football. We like the group we are working with right now. It's a close knit group. I can start with the tackles outside and go through every one of these players. But generally speaking, you have to draft and hit on your draft picks and then pick and choose when you're wanting to supplement that group with free agents and I think we have done that well."
Did you guys scout (Nick) Mullens always coming out of Southern Miss and if what have you seen from him as a pro?
"Yes. We're familiar with the player and he's doing well. He's extremely accurate. He's a rhythm thrower. You can see he's well coached. Kyle (Shanahan) and those guys do a great job of coaching that position. All the things that you want from that player (and with the rest of the team), they play real good defense. They run the football well. There's a balance to everything they do and he's functioned very well in it."