New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
You guys have had to rely on some younger receivers in the last game, Lil'Jordan (Humphrey), Juwan (Johnson) and you also integrated Marquez (Callaway). Just how have those guys progressed as the seasons gone?
"Look, I think well, considering a handful of them this is their first year, undrafted. In Chicago, we leaned on some guys. And it seems like each week, depending on the health of our players, we had Emmanuel (Sanders) out for COVID. So we played a lot of players in those slots and, overall, I think they've done a good job. And, of course, there's things we are working on and wanting to improve on, but for young players, that is encouraging."
With Marquez, you designated him for return yesterday, just how important would that be to get him back just to help the depth moving forward?
"Yeah, look, I think we'll have Mike (Thomas) after these two games. And I think anytime you can have a player that's played already and is someone that has gained some confidence, I think that's a positive. I think, hopefully, he can play in this game and I think that would be good for us."
I know the purpose of putting Mike on IR is to get him as healthy as possible before the postseason starts. But would also be an opportunity for Drew (Brees) to establish a little bit more with the guys like Jared (Cook) and Emmanuel (Sanders) and so on?
"Yeah, sure. I mean, look, we're always putting your plan together with like, alright, where are the targets and third down and tomorrow's practice, redzone. We've had different weeks, the Chicago week was a big (Jared) Cook and (Alvin) Kamara. I think Tre'Quan (Smith) in Detroit and Deonte (Harris) in some of those games. So it's the unique thing about our league is that it can be that fluid week to week based on the health of those guys."
Could you see the team signing another receiver or do you think everyone's kind of on track health wise that you wouldn't need to?
"I think we're getting healthy. Like, in other words, I think as guys are coming back, yeah, I don't. We're two weeks away from the regular season being over with and I think we're getting healthier there as opposed to the other way around."
With Dalvin Cook being just a guy who gets so many touches, is that kind of a rare thing to face in the modern NFL? And does that make any different defending the guy when he's touching the ball 30 times a game?
"Look, I think year by year, teams will have a back like this and it makes complete sense. Down in Tennessee, Minnesota where they're part of an outstanding running game, and then the play action that comes off of it, all the challenges that come off of it. But I think that it can vary based on what you're looking to do offensively and then maybe the health and the stature of someone like that. But look, he's he something to watch and he's having a fantastic year. I mean, they do a very good job. Gary (Kubiak's) been over the years as good as anyone. He and Rick (Dennison) and that group on offense of running the wide zone scheme, really better than anyone."
I know they ran a lot of like play action with the (Kevin) Stefanski there last year. Are they doing as much of that with Kubiak up there this year?
"Absolutely. They have more snaps than any other team in the NFL of 21 or 12. In other words, just two receiver sets and so a lot of base offensive packages, now they can create three receiver sets from there by putting a tight end out in the slot or whatnot, but they do a very good job."
What do you see in the rookie, Justin Jefferson?
"Well, his rookie year he's in the Pro Bowl. And I would say it's a pretty hard thing to do at receiver considering, just look around the NFC. He savvy, he's smart, he's long, he can run. I think he's got really, really good hands in traffic. And I think you see, along with his skill set, you see for a young player, someone that has very good football instincts and he's fun to watch. I mean, every week, I told the story the other day, Mondays, I look at the touchdown reel and it starts on the one yard line, it ends with whoever had the longest touchdown of the week. So 40 something plays maybe, I don't know, it varies. And when you watch that reel you get used to seeing certain people in the end zone. He's one of them."