New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, December 17, 2020
With Drew (Brees) making a return yesterday, what's kind of the key thing you want to see from him?
"Well it's pretty simple. It's just functionality, strength, throwing, without soreness, there's a process. Last week with the trainers he had one throwing day. Then yesterday, the same way. So, it's really (feeling) asymptomatic, feeling good, strong and like he'd functioned and be an asset and play well."
Are you waiting for any further clearance from doctors or once he (Drew Brees) feels good?
"No. I think everyone's monitoring, paying attention to it all. We will just see how this week goes."
A rookie running back up there in Kansas City, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. What have you seen from him that kind of helps them be so effective?
"He was someone that we really liked (coming out of LSU). We felt like we knew the player well. I love how he's built, you feel a sturdiness and (in) both the running game and the passing game, he's equally effective (and) smart. He is doing fantastic. All the things we knew about him makeup-wise were great. He just, does so many things well. That was a great pick."
Obviously, the Chiefs' offense is really good. But, when you study the league, and you look at what other teams are doing, are they one of the teams where you can see their influence across the league in some of the things that other teams do?
"Yeah, I think that's fair to say, Nick (Underhill), I think so. I think that, you're ahead or you're following and certainly they're ahead. And they do some unique things. It's one of the things that's very impressive about Patrick (Mahomes), is their ability to get in a lot of five-man protection, move people, he'll understand who to Mike, how to move the line in protection. He does a great job, he does a great job with his cadence, a quick shift for a receiver or tight end, get an indicator, go through the cadence, go back through it again, read Mike. That's not easy for a lot of young quarterbacks. And that's something that you see. And now certainly during COVID, you guys can hear if you go to the audio, it's really impressive."
Eric Bienemy has got his name in some coaching jobs, just want to ask what you think about him? Do you think he'll get his opportunity?
"Yeah, listen, I think that's coming. I think it's much deserved. I think he's well respected in our industry. I don't know, Eric. I've met him before. But, I think that the success they're having and people, generally speaking, want to hire from winning teams and that is just been something that you have seen over time. And I think that's going to come true here this offseason. I think there's a good chance he gets hired. And deservedly so. I just remember, here's what I remember with Eric (Bienemy). Chris Berman would have these all-time nickname teams, and it was Eric sleeping with the enemy. He had about five of (those) all-time names when they were players. And so, I just think of (Chris) Berman with all those different names."
How do you think the league is going to balance, you know, obviously, guys with good teams go longer in the postseason and hiring?
"You're asking this question because you know what my response is going to be. I really feel strongly and it's not going to be this year. Already teams are interviewing GMs. But I just feel like along the lines of this topic of hiring, the hiring process and addressing the lack of minorities in these key positions, I think the process needs to begin at the end of the week after the Super Bowl. And we're not in any hurry. And the teams if they're complaining or generally speaking, are the teams that are losing consistently. But, I think that allows them, two-fold, it allows teams to really process the direction they want to go. The assistant coaches can begin (being hired by a coach) hiring the following week. And now, not ask (Eric) Bienemy or whoever in season, during the playoff run to, all of a sudden, focus three days on an interview. I hope we can get that changed. Because I think that will do two things. It'll benefit the clubs in the postseason and more importantly, it'll benefit the candidates that are with these clubs. I can recall, back in 2000, we were at the Giants and went to the Super Bowl and Marvin Lewis was a hot name and John Fox the same way. And both of those two were the defensive coordinators in that Super Bowl. And that was the great Ravens defense. One of them was thought to be going to the Browns, either one of them. They were both hired, and they both interviewed there during the bye or whatnot. And then they (Browns) ended up hiring Butch Davis, I think. But, I just think more mistakes are made in a hurry or in a race to (be first), and I think no different than how free agency starts for us. I think the hiring cycle for football, front office, head coach, the football, not the scouting end, because there's a different cycle for that group. But, I think it needs to begin the week after the Super Bowl and I think that would help address some of our inequities we currently see."
When you're looking at the Kansas City defense, in some ways, it kind of reminds me of yours, just with the way they play some man (to man defense) and force a bunch of turnovers. What kind of stands out about that in particular with the turnovers especially?
"I would say this, man, and I think Steve Spagnuolo has done a great job. And there was the late Jim Johnson who coached at the Eagles, had such an impact on so many defensive coaches, he had an impact on Steve Spagnuolo, who was part of his staff and then went on to, obviously win Super Bowls with the Giants and then also last year with the Chiefs. And Sean McDermott was on that staff, and Ron Rivera was on that staff, on that defensive side of the ball, Leslie Frazier, like this is pretty, like if you ever did a little like, Jim Johnson feature, if you had a Hall of Fame of defensive coordinators, he certainly would be one of those guys. And then here it is years later and you see the success of that staff. And look, it was all, Andy (Reid) too, it was Andy there. And so, we always talk about Andy's (Reid) offense but, that network of coaches that was on the other side of the ball back with Brian Dawkins. And so, I think, number one, they challenge you at the line of scrimmage exceptionally well. They've got very versatile and smart players. And what I mean is they can play man with the safety covering down over a receiver, does not always have to be a corner. They have versatility, they will zone pressure you, they will man pressure you, they are not afraid to max pressure you. So, there's a lot. It seems early in the week busy and then as the week progresses you hope you can begin to calm it down some. But, Steve does a fantastic job. And they have the right people in those spots and it all fits."
Travis Kelce is leading the NFL in receiving yards, how do you limit a tight end of his size and his ability in a game like this?
"Yeah, how do you simulate it? You try to as best you can to understand the leverage. And we played some good tight ends to date. But certainly, he is one of those rare guys. I think the one thing that's maybe understated or not appreciated with as much film as we watch, you see someone who is extremely intelligent not only as just a route runner, but setting up leverage, setting up even picks, blocks, in everything he does with each play there rarely is something that you would say is the wrong. I mean, it's just, he has great football instincts and he's one of the few players you see that on film. And Tyreek (Hill) is another one. But he too has those instincts where he'll travel across in motion. He'll get set, he'll come back on his own. He'll know where the landmark is. Very, very comfortable moving and understanding leverage and I think that along with an amazing skillset, that you end up with what you have, a great player."