New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Now that the Eagles have named Jalen Hurts the quarterback, are there specific things that they seem to like to do with him in the lineup?
"There's an element of the running game that's unique. And it's not just zone read. Some of that you obviously saw with Carson (Wentz). Both those guys are athletic guys that can make plays out of the pocket. In fact, they're both very good out of the pocket. But there is an element of the run game that will be important for us this week if we're getting some design quarterback runs. So yeah, I mean, they're different. And yet, we have to defend the defense that we see and then have good eyes and be smart enough to see what's new that maybe we hadn't seen."
Is Hurts a guy that you that looked at in the draft process and if so what do you remember about him?
"We look at all these guys. I remember his college film, I remember going through the interview process. All of it, he's someone that obviously won games. He transferred from Alabama and yeah, he was definitely one of the quarterbacks that we were paying attention to and making sure we researched and graded thoroughly."
What are some of the things you see from their interior rush with Fletcher Cox and (Javon) Hargrave?
"Well, two things. Number one, they lead the league in sacks with just four man rushes, they lead the league in hurries, they lead the league in pressures and their way down at the bottom of the league relative to when they're blitzing or dogging. So it's a challenge when you can just run four and have that much success because you can play coverage behind it and now your throw's got to come out of your hand a little quicker because of the pass rush, or going into coverage as opposed to just man to man. So it's a really good front. They're very athletic, they rush the passer extremely well and they present a lot of challenges."
AK (Alvin Kamara) was a really big part of the passing game before Drew Brees' rib injury. Why do you think that hasn't been the case since?
"Well, some of it's just been opponent driven. Some of it's we've had two Atlanta games where I think at times his matchup goes inside and there's some routes that we have called, but I'm not counting the Denver game. So I'm not particularly concerned."
You always say that you just control the things that you can control, but has this season presented a few more twists and turns than an ordinary season, or does it pretty much seem normal?
"No, I mean, look, how could 2020 not be considered a year with more twists and turns? It's a turn every 10 steps. And then pretty soon, you just get used to making turns. So I think there's a schedule and a routine that can begin to fall in place that you get used to, and knock on wood, every morning, early, when I get up, I look at my email to make sure there wasn't a positive test, but that's right around the corner. You see, I mean, you're dealing with that a little bit every week. So it is a little different. And yet there's still a routine to it. It goes by fast. It always does. And it's hard to believe, I don't even know what week we're in, week 14. So we've had a bye and the next thing you know, you're on another trip, you're on another plane and they are standing for a national anthem for another game. It goes by very fast. So there's a routine element to it, but it definitely is uniquely different."
Can you recall when you first pursued Malcolm (Jenkins) whether there was much competition from Philly and other teams and to what extent was there, like how did you assess the risk of all the mileage he had on him for the position he plays?
"Look, I trust the player, I know the player, I have a clear vision for him and had always regretted letting him out of the building. That was a mistake and so when the time came, I think I just sent them a direct message and I think his response was great. And then it was like, here we go. There's a football element, there's an intelligence element, every ounce of him I like and I say that not because he was part of our Super Bowl team, but man, he is good in the locker room, he is someone I think has great experience now. But he was a smart player when he arrived and played very well as a nickel in year one. That part was easy."
Back to Alvin, you said the other day that that touchdown rush he had last week, he put that one in himself, I guess what was the conversation?
"Let me explain. This will little help, I can probably explain it a little better. We run a certain run where one player, the tight end comes across the formation and blocks back and then the running back takes the han off. In that game, we kind of faked that run and had Taysom (Hill) keep it. So it was 15 Weak F Keeper and Taysom gained seven yards, it ran around our right end and was a positive play. It was a good run, a designed quarterback run the whole way off a run that we run he weak F series. So at halftime, we were heading towards our locker room and it was just in casual conversation. He (Alvin) happened to be next to me walking to the locker room, I said, 'What do you like in the second half?' Just getting his gut. And we talked about a few different runs and then he said to me, 'I really like that same play that we ran Taysom's keeper, but the run off of it.' And so while there was a motion element to it with Tommylee (Lewis), there was a misdirection element. And so that was really easy to just at halftime say hey, I want to come back to the formation we ran the keeper from and we're coming off of this Bunch Z Torch 15 Weak F instead of calling a keeper, let's just make it 15 Weak F, let's hand it off. And so we did and of course, the inside linebacker really fell out of the box. And it was clean and run as we had and so, yeah, he got a kick out of that. I mean, after he scored he came over, his smile wasn't just that he scored, it was the he had kind of put the play in."
What went into starting Nick Easton at right guard again this week?
"That was just our feeling going into this game. And it wasn't again, I think (Cesar) Ruiz started and Nick was at left guard the week before. So we flopped him over. We will rotate those two, he was playing well, that can vary week to week."
That conversation you were just talking about with Alvin Kamara, is that something you guys do a lot, like do you check with the players a lot just to get their view from on the field? Is that a pretty normal thing that that happens?
"Not everyone. I just happened to be next to him. But he's someone that has good instincts and he's someone that I think has got very good football awareness and I just, every once in a while, I'd like to know from the runners of the linemen what they like. The offensive linemen are pretty good. Do you like more inside (or) outside? Just do a pulse of what they were feeling. And that's what I was asking him and then he went one step further. This is what I really like. And I was like, alright, we can do that."