New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, December 7, 2020
Does it look like Michael Thomas has gotten back in his comfort zone? And it seems like he's a guy that any quarterback you have on the roster can rely on?
"I think, first off, I'm proud of him, because I know it's, it's been a grind working back, he's still trying to get to 100%. Obviously, the injury he had was significant. But I would agree in that. Man, he's come up with some big plays here and for a quarterback, new in the lineup, you know, to have that target in someone who is going to come down with the ball, make plays, that's a big deal. So, he's doing well."
How does it seem that he's (Michael Thomas) able to sync in with whichever quarterback, he doesn't get the same amount of reps with all of them, but how does he manage to sync with all of them?
"Well, look, it starts with being a great receiver. He's able to separate, he gives you a great target radius, an area to throw to and I think that suits anybody who's passing the ball to him. The key each week is to find different route concepts to give him those opportunities and continue to find more of those even in the red zone."
How did you think Sheldon (Rankins) did his first game back?
"I thought it was good to have him back out there and it was a minute (time sidelined) since he played last. So it is going to be a little different. He will be a little sore today. But there's a lot that comes with him and his ability to not only play the run, (but) to rush the passer and I think he has I would say, a lot of real good leadership qualities as well."
After getting a chance to look at the film, another big game on the ground in terms of rushing yards, what were some of the keys that you saw once you looked at the film to kind of have that kind of outing?
"(I) think in yesterday's case, look, there were some real good signs. We had two big explosives, obviously Alvin's (Kamara) run and Taysom's (Hill) run and then there were a lot of positive plays, the touchdown to Alvin (Kamara), a handful of things that we can do a better job with, from a consistency standpoint. But I think in yesterday's game, it was about some of the big runs."
On Alvin's (Kamara) big run, I think it was Tre'Quan (Smith) who had a nice block on the outside. How good of a blocker is Tre'Quan (Smith)?
"I think he's a real good blocker. I think he's physical. I think he's long, and that helps, when you have that size and length with your wingspan. And the other thing is he's willing and extremely unselfish."
Yesterday, you all clinched a playoff berth, was that a big deal to you all or did you need to talk about it after the game?
"No, I do not think so. I mean, yeah. I mean, we found out about it afterwards. But, I don't know that that was something that we were waiting to hear on or anything like that. I guess it had something to do with another NFC team (Chicago) losing. But look, I think the focus in this league is to win your division. The next focus is to put yourself in the best position, playoff wise and those are the things we're focused on."
I know I'm asking this knowing there won't be some grand announcement or anything, but is there an update on Drew (Brees) and how his progress is going and a potential timetable at all?
"I've not seen anything. I think he's working (hard). I know he's spending a ton of time with Beau (Lowery) in the training room and so I think it would be early. I honestly wouldn't be able to give you a time frame. He's like a handful of the other guys that are down there working their tails off to get back healthy, 100% and we'll kind of see when that is."
On Taysom Hill, did you see improvement in his quickness of his decisionmaking. In the pocket, did you see him get more decisive and act more quickly (than the other games)?
"Yeah, I think you've got to eliminate last week, in fairness to the process and look at the first game versus Atlanta, (and then) which was his third game, second game versus Atlanta. I felt like the thing I was impressed with (was) his third down (decisionmaking) and our conversion percentage and I did feel watching, just during the game, even the decisiveness as to where to go with the football. There is some heat on it, our receivers and tight ends and everyone is getting adjusted to the way it is coming out and I was pleased with that."
What about just how he (Taysom Hill) is, you know, in the huddle, getting guys lined up, I think Jared Cook mentioned that that was an area he's really seen Taysom come along?
"Yeah and listen, part of that is on the other 10. You get used to one thing for so long and Drew (Brees) kind of, is there to handle everyone's problems and everyone's issues and everyone's little intricacies. And look, the O- Line, the tight ends, running backs, receivers, everyone has to focus on their specific job and I think that's something that just comes with time and experience."
In the face of pressure, do you think (Taysom) is maybe a little better, then some people really, you see yesterday he had a bunch of throws with guys really buried down on him?
"We've got to do a better job with some of our protections. I think you're right, I think he made some very impressive throws. It's a tough front. But we had a couple free rushes that we've got to clean up."
I know that yesterday, the Eagles made a quarterback change in the game and then Doug Pederson said he will not announce a starter, just maybe the challenges of your defense having to prepare for two guys, especially when you have maybe just a lot of college film and not a lot of NFL film on one (Jalen Hurts) of them?
"Yeah, look, I think you prepare first for the offense. And then you recognize the nuances when you have a quarterback who's in the game that has a little bit more mobility, and they see that with Taysom sometimes. But I think you've got to prepare for the offense that you're playing. And then more specifically, the skillset of who's in there Carson (Wentz) is a guy when he is in there that moves well, that can escape and run. So in either case, you're going to be playing a quarterback who's a real good athlete."