New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, December 11, 2020
I wanted to ask you if you felt that there was a correlation between the depth you guys have built this year, and sort of the culture you've established as a program. In terms of maybe guys wanting to come and play here, or just the general attitude they have, how you target guys, that sort of thing?
"I think it's something you pay attention to daily as an organization. I do not think you ever take it for granted. I think it takes work. I think it's constantly a work in progress. And in the offseason, when we're signing a free agent or drafting a player, it's one of the questions that's always asked is what type of teammate will he be and how will he fit into our locker room? And so, you kind of tend to it on a daily basis, I think."
Some of the other coaches, you have faced have just kind of referenced Dennis Allen pushing the right buttons with that defense. And I was curious what you thought his role is in how they're playing right now?
"Listen, I've known Dennis (Allen) for a long time. He was on our original staff in '06. He's smart, he's detailed. He works at it, his staff. The thing that's most pleasing is to see the progress from week one to where we're at now and I'm glad I have him, I'm glad we have him."
What challenges does Jalen Hurts pose for the Saints defense?
"Well, look, number one is mobility, his ability to run. There's a dual threat, there's a little bit of that unknown, he's got a really good arm. He can throw the ball down the field. And so, sometimes maybe a little bit like Taysom (Hill), there's some off schedule plays that you don't necessarily get a chance to simulate. But, if it breaks down and he's outside the pocket, he's someone that can beat you with his feet and his arm. So I think those are the things that come to mind right away."
Run blocking for wide receivers isn't, I guess, necessarily like a, probably something they all dream of doing, right? When they get in the NFL? Do you have to identify that trait in a guy like with Tre'Quan (Smith) especially? It just seems like he just approaches that with some eagerness?
"I think there's some carryover, corners need to be able to tackle, receivers need to be able to block. Certainly there are better blocking receivers with each team we play. There are certain receivers that are called upon to do more of the work. And yet, it is hard to run the football at an explosive level if you are not at some point being able to block the safeties and the safety force patterns. So, I think in our league it's real important."
Terron's (Armstead) been back at practice. James Hurst seems like he did a pretty good job filling in, but what does Terron (Armstead) bring to the team when he's out there healthy, playing?
"Yeah. Look, it's good to have him back. And I'm glad we've got that flexibility, because it's been maybe, sometimes a tackle, sometimes a guard. And I think that you don't take that for granted. Because there've been seasons where, man, you're required to chip. And I mean, I think that, it's good having him back though."
What kind of progress is Zack Baun making, just throughout the season?
"He's doing well. His role in special teams has increased. Obviously, he's receiving snaps in our base defensive packages. He's a good football player and I'm glad we have him. So, you know, a lot of it sometimes is opponent driven, how much he's on the field in defense, based on our packages. And then, I'm pleased with how he's playing in the kicking game."
From an offensive perspective, when you're looking at a defense that can play different linebackers in base and then they've got their nickel linebackers. What challenges does that create? Does that create challenges just trying to identify who's out there?
"No, look, every week when we play, we see teams that have their base package. And let's just say that's three linebackers. And that's sometimes dictated, by what we're in. And then, if we get into a receiver heavy set, you know, a lot of times we'll get a nickel, possibly even a dime defense. So, when we game plan, I think you kind of understand, generally speaking, this is not always but, you know, one linebacker comes off and then, you know, a DB comes in, a nickel or a buffalo. So, you see that on film. I think the challenge is sometimes, are the defenses that, you know, we saw this in Denver, where you might get base to your three receiver sets. And so, that presents some challenges. But, I think from an ID standpoint, the quarterbacks, the offense gets used to understanding, you know, what personnel groups are going to see their base defense, what personnel groups are going to see their nickel or dime packages. In each week there can be some nuances there."
We talk about, you know, what might happen to an offense if the quarterback has to change, but are there certain nuances that become difficult for your center, for Erik (McCoy)? You know, in terms of cadence, or those kinds of things?
"Well, it's a good question. I think, we try to replicate the cadence as best we can. And certainly, it's not exact, so that's not just the center, that's everyone involved, you know, closer to the ball that hears the snap. Yeah, I think, you know, I've said this before, Drew (Brees) in his 15th season is uncanny, relative to his ability to communicate, all the specifics maybe. And I think, when he's out, last year with Teddy (Bridgewater), and now with Taysom (Hill), you know, some others have to pick up some of that. You know, that you can't expect all the details that you got from someone as experienced as Drew. And so, you know, your front identification, that has to all take place. But, the point I'm making is, though, when you change the signal call, there are a number of things that are different."
This is your third game in a row on the road, sometimes that happens, just with scheduling quirks. But how, I guess, different is that when you're trying to, you know, just get in your rhythm of stuff, but you're on the road for three weeks in a row and that's not a normal situation?
"Yeah, I think, generally speaking, we've been on this recently, this Sunday, you know, not an evening schedule. And so, you know, we've had the one o'clock or 12 noon slot, maybe the afternoon. This weekend, it'll be the second set of games. I don't mind the traveling. I think this season, uniquely different than any other, the biggest road challenge is your cadence and your crowd noise and all of those other things. And we're playing in a much different environment right now. And I think, look, the visiting teams win percentage this year is up. And I think that plays a part in it, because you're really in a, I don't want to say a sterile environment, but a quiet environment. That's not challenging from a noise perspective. But as far as traveling, I think when the schedule comes out, we don't look at it like three away games. We might look at it like Philly in December, what's the weather going to be like? And while we're on that topic, I think we're going to get fairly decent weather this time of the year. I think that's how we look at it a little bit more than just three away games. You kind of look at when you are playing someone. Then, the other thing is, you really cannot have any control over that. And so, you just look, obviously, if we're playing three on the road in a row, then we're getting that back somehow, you know, at home. So it kind of is what it is."