New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, September 18, 2020
Cesar Ruiz back at practice in a limited way yesterday, how encouraging is that to get him back?
"Yeah, it was good. He went through everything. We had a couple guys like that and he's feeling a lot better and obviously a guy that we're excited about getting back into the swing of things. He's someone that we thought had a real good camp. So, it was good to see him back out there."
Another guy he got back, Dwayne Washington, had been out for quite a while on the COVID list out. Alvin (Kamara) said he was excited to see him back. What about you?
"Absolutely. I think when the first day he arrived back in the building, everyone kind of kept their distance and then we gave him a hard time, but he's doing good."
When a player is away from a team, from the field for so long, how do you get them back? Especially when they're out for so long?
"Well, look, I think he trained on his own while he was way. I think that he's someone that knows what we're doing with his experience in the offense and in the kicking game. And so, it is a little uniquely different, being injured is one thing in the training room and then being away from the team for a period of time is another thing. So, it's good to have him back in the building."
How much of your improved run defense in the last couple of years is just the guys playing and the execution? But how much of it was a determined effort to sort of get the personnel and make that an improved part of your team?
"Yeah, look, I think it's probably a combination of both, Mike (Triplett). It was common the amount we were doing down and I think Dennis (Allen) has done a good job of that. We're not playing with every defense under the sun. Then secondly, drafting and acquiring the right people to fit what we're wanting to do. So, it's been a combination of what we're wanting to do scheme wise, and then also getting the people to do it."
Speaking of Dennis (Allen), what has he gotten better at as a defensive coordinator, even in the last two, three years since he came back here the second time. It seems like he's really found his niche.
"Yeah, look, he's coaching with confidence. I think there's constant growth as a defensive play caller and as a teacher, he's extremely thorough. I think that he does a good job of looking at the strengths of the individual player and try trying to put them in those positions. And then also, most importantly, trying to take away some of the things that you feel like offenses want to do with you and that might be schemer or personnel."
Particularly on the defensive line, you guys seem to be hitting on all the acquisitions. What are some of the traits you guys are looking for when you're going out and try to find a guy to come in and contribute on the defensive line?
"Well, look, there's a combination. There's the measurable, there's the makeup, there's the tape evaluation. So, there's a bunch that goes into it. There's certain size requirements we're looking for, depending on the position. All would be priorities relative to being on the draft board."
You guys the working Cesar (Ruiz) back in, how's he progressing? And also, how well has Nick Easton held up at that at that spot?
"Yeah, good. Look, it was Cesar's first day back yesterday. So, we'll continue to work with him at both spots and Nick's doing well. We'll get a lot of work between the three of those guys."
When we talk about the defense, we always talk about the defensive front, but how important are those guys on the next level because most teams haven't been able to pop out long runs on you?
"Well, look, you've got to be able to tackle at corner or you're going to struggle because offenses can force the corner to tackle with scheme. And so, last week, we saw Janoris (Jenkins) with a high productive game relative to tackling for that position. And then, obviously, both safeties are guys that have to be able to tackle well. I don't see a spot on defense where you say this position doesn't require someone to tackle well, but certainly, when you're looking at the back end of your secondary, it has to be able to."
When you don't have any fans, especially in a road venue, is that almost an advantage for somebody like Drew (Brees) who can use a hard count in those settings where maybe he wasn't able to before?
"I think obviously, it neutralizes anybody's home field advantage. Basically, it's like going to play in a neutral site where both teams aren't going to really have to deal with crowd noise on either side of the ball. I think that that home field advantage, as it pertains to crowd noise, is negated."
Looking back at the game last week, Alvin (Kamara) got a lot of use on the boundaries, was that just like a product of you were playing against? You wanted to work him into the middle of field as well?
"Yeah, listen, I mentioned afterwards, too many times outside was what we were seeing and not enough off tackle or inside and that can that can vary week to week."