New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Going against a guy like Bruce Arians, how does that change the approach just with his aggressiveness? How do you guys prepare for that? And how does that impact what you guys might do?
"Well, look, I think the important element as to Tampa on offense is how much of the old scheme will we see versus New England's offense? In other words, there'll be some, I'm sure, tinkering. Everybody during the offseason plays with new ideas, new concepts. So, trying to measure what we're going to see relative to what we saw a year ago from Tampa offensively to what their 2020 version is is one of the challenges of playing a team like this early. Typically, for instance, our offense or our defense or even their defense, there's some assumptions made and clearly there'll be some changes, but I think when it comes to what Tampa is going to be like and what they're going to look like, offensively, I think we understand the personnel and how talented they are. But the alignment and the schemes that they want to deploy and run with that personnel will be something that we've got to be ready to adjust to quickly."
With the continuity you have returning on offense, how much easier or more simple did it make this offseason, this training camp in terms of install and familiarity with players?
"Well, look, I think when there's no turnover in coaching, that's a positive because if you're one of the new staffs, you're hired, you have this COVID and you have no offseason technically, no OTAs no minicamps, no rookie camps, you haven't met your team until training camp. I think that puts a new staff at a disadvantage. Look, I think that's something you can't control. We and Tampa are fortunate to be returning our coaching staffs and quite a few of the players from last year's rosters and yet there'll be some things that both teams will do differently."
It's finally game week, did this offseason feel longer to you given everything that's happened since March?
"Yeah, probably so to some degree. I would say this though, I felt like leading up to training camp it did and then I would say training camp felt quicker. We were practicing and obviously with no break up preseason games. So, it felt like that went pretty fast."
We talk a lot about the players feeding off of the crowd's energy? As a coach, how much did you feed off of that? And what will you to sort of do to make this feel normal with no fans?
"Well, look, we've talked about it, we practiced in it, we got the noise right where it's going to be on gameday, talked about it, and ultimately, there's a rectangle field out there with stripes on it. We're playing a game that involves technique and discipline and the team that tackles and blocks and does the fundamentals best typically wins on Sunday. Now, yeah, does it help when you're playing at home and the opponent has trouble with the noise? All of those things are going to be different this season. So, my guess would be at the end of the year that the road team win percentage might be up a tick from years past because the road team won't have to deal with that adversity or the crowd noise that that they typically have to deal with. So, we've got to create the energy ourselves. We feel like we've got the best fans in the world. Now fortunately, I think in week two, we're going to progress back into having at least some fans at the game, but I don't know, for the foreseeable future, if any team is going to enjoy that home field, booming, loud noise that you would typically get on third down."
How much of a concern is that in the first guy, just because you haven't got a chance to do as much in camp?
"It can't be a concern. It can be, but it can't be. We can't control it. So, we've just got to understand that, hey, we've got to, we're playing this game in Sweden, doesn't matter. We're playing a football game against a good football team and it's going to be about execution and quickly some of these nuances that we discussed in hockey or in the NBA, very quickly everyone got used to and just started watching and so I'm sure it was uniquely different for them. You talk to the these PGA golfers, it was different for them. And yet, the best golfer in the world (Dustin Johnson) won the other day and it wasn't because the crowds were cheering him on. He performed the best at the critical moments and he won and so I think the same thing will take place this year. Will it be different? Yes, I think it will be."
This game obviously will be historically significant with the QB's ages this week. How much do you see them going down as outliers as opposed to maybe trendsetters in fitness and longevity where 10 years from now there could be a half dozen quarterbacks older than 39?
"I would definitely see them as the latter. They're not going to be outliers. The game improves, there's science involved, we study it more, we learn more, we learn more about rehydrating, we learn more about injury prevention, we're learning more about what sleep does, nutrition, all of these things that (extend player's careers). Look,there's still a picture floating around somewhere of Len Dawson smoking a cigarette at halftime. So, it's different and it's going to continue to trend that way because that's where the money is and it's to the player's advantage and it's to the player's best interest to play longer and extend their careers. Certainly, two of these guys that we're going to see Sunday have done that."
Are you keeping the hotel for the regular season? And did it accomplish what you wanted it to accomplish during training camp?
"I don't know for sure how long we'll keep it. We'll use the hotel, certainly for our home games and currently we're using it. Did it accomplish what we what we wanted? I can only say, I have to think it helped because really we came away from the preseason with one positive COVID test. I think around the league, teams have felt encouraged. And yet, the first thing I mentioned in our meeting today was don't fall asleep to it. Because I think all of us can adjust to one person or one coach gone, we have over the years. What's always the concern is that a group of eight or nine, that can really impact the game so that was something we addressed."
What has made them one of the better run stopping teams at least last year? What made them so challenging to run against?
"Look, it's a talented front number one. Todd (Bowles) does a great job with the scheme. And so when you mix a real good scheme and really talented players with a commitment to stopping the run, man, it is a challenge. A three-yard gain feels like a 50-yard run. So, it's a heavy front, it's a strong front, and they've got a fantastic scheme."
You guys have put the slow start thing behind you just the last couple of years. Do you feel like you've found something that works with this early first four game part of the season?
"Well, hopefully. Look, we went through a stretch there that wasn't as good, but this is a division game. It's our chance to make our first impression or first test if you will for both teams and this practice week will be important for us."
Regarding the COVID-19 list, if a player tests positive and they have 10 days before they can come back or whatever, I know it's different situations, do you start that 10 day countdown the day he tests positive or would that be the day after?
"I think it's the day you test positive, but honestly, Mickey (Loomis), like we've got every day 10 questions come up. I think it's the day you test positive and then I know there's a period of time you have to be symptom free. So there's a transition back as to when you can be in the building and then when you can be playing. But if you test positive you're missing at least one game."
It's just it's so new. I think no one really knows all the nuances of what's going on.
"Hey, wait until you have to figure out the practice squad and the inactives. Good luck."
I'm Looking forward to it.
"Yeah, I'm still working on it."