New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Virtual Media Availability
Thursday, June 10, 2021
I don't think we've asked you about Kris Richard, but what does he bring and what made him the right hire?
"Yeah, so I feel like I've known Kris for a while, our teams back when we played Seattle so many times, a few years back, he was coaching there and had a lot of success with Pete (Carroll) and his staff. I have spoken to him several times when he was in Dallas, just professionally over different things and (we) kind of always had stayed in touch. And then with the loss of Aaron (Glenn), we had that opportunity to bring Kris in along with a few other candidates and he really did a good job (in our discussions) and I'm excited that that he's joined our staff. I think there's a certainly an experience level and also the attention to detail. I think he's a really good teacher."
What have you guys been able to get done this week?
"Yeah, we have kind of continued with this schedule we have been on. We're getting (in) of course, a lot of weight room work, conditioning, but a ton of individual specific technique work. And I think sometimes when you get started in training camp and in the season, you're always trying to have enough time where you're working the proper technique with your players. And I think this time frame for us has really been good. The rookie class, they have done a really good job. They are in shape and I am encouraged with the conditioning level of those guys, as well as the veteran players."
I know Dan Roushar and Brendan Nugent used to both lead meetings and Brendan said he's going to take the same approach for Zach Strief and him. What's the advantage to this having two different voices in there and being able to switch that up?
"Well, look, it's a position group that's deeper than most and so I think it's fairly common in our league to see two coaches in that room. Both of those guys bring completely different skill sets. And yet, they're passionate about teaching and about coaching. And I think that relationship is going well and I think it's going to benefit our players. So at times, I'm sure whether it's the tackles specifically, or the interior part of the line, or the tackles and tight ends with Roushar working at the tight ends. There's a lot of carryover coaching that's necessary and I think that I think Zach brings an added dimension to our staff as someone who played not too long ago and is someone who's very smart. And then with Brendan, he's someone that is kind of come up in that front, if you will or O- line background. Both of those guys are doing a really good job. And I think you're always looking to change up the message sometimes or how it's delivered. And I think those two will do a good job of that."
How is Michael Thomas doing from a health perspective, has he had ample time to recover from the ankle issues last year?
"Yeah, look, he's here and been participating. He looks good. You still monitor it, pay attention to it and scan it and all those things. He's receiving treatment and doing the things necessary. So, so far, so good."
Have you noticed anything different about Marcus Davenport mentally or physically this offseason?
"Yeah, I kind of see more of a veteran player. I know he's had a good offseason. He has been healthy, for the most part and he's doing well right now. That position group, in general is really doing well. I think that experience is going to serve him well, his disruption, the end numbers will come. And it's just learning to play in and play out. Those results that sometimes you feel like you're being judged by specifically a hurry can be just as effective as a sack. We're excited that he's having the type of offseason he's having."
Are you guys seeing the growth that you want to see out of Cesar Ruiz from last year to where he is now?
"Yeah, absolutely. He's had a really good offseason. He's been here and getting a lot of work done. But to answer your question, yes."
How much more production and impact do you think Tre'Quan Smith can make this year?
"Yeah, look, he's got a lot of versatility. He does a lot of things well. I see a confident player when we talk about him, he's physical. You can point to games where you see growth and last year with some of the injuries we had, you know, he had a real good important game for us at Detroit. He's one of those players that I think details every aspect of playing that position. He's not afraid to do some of the noisy work, but yet he's someone that can stretch the field and he's in good shape. He's moving around. He is smart, he's versatile and all of those things you don't take for granted."
Confidence was the first word you mentioned, is that something that did have to develop with him for a little while? I know, he talked about grasping all the different receiver positions early in his career.
"Yeah, look, I think he has always been a confident player. But then all of a sudden, a young player that comes into our league, and then starts doing it on a regular basis, you see that grow. And so again, I use that term, I see a veteran player with him in the way he prepares, he carries himself. He is one of the one of the leaders now in that room. And I think he's someone that not only does it by example, but I think he's someone that puts in all the time and the attention to the detail."
For your second-year players, after that kind of truncated, weird offseason they had last year coming in as rookies, how important has this offseason been for them just to get that full amount of time and get to know everybody and know where they're supposed to be, all that sort of stuff?
"I think it's been extremely valuable. You're right. I mean, the schedule they came into last year was uniquely different. They've all been here now and gotten into a routine relative to their training, and specifically, have a bat a lot of time to work on their individual technique as it pertains to the position they're playing. So I think that timeframe has been extremely beneficial. I mentioned the rookie class the same way. They've been real impressive in their time here and all the things, I get updates each day from Dan (Dalrymple), our strength coach. We're excited to see these guys in training camp, once we have a chance to put pads on."
Kind of related to that, were you able to learn anything from that experience last year that maybe you can take into this year with rookies like the new kind of, I don't know if it involves like, a change or anything?
"Yeah, look, ultimately, I think every one of us not just in the football world, you get affected when something like that takes place, there are certain things that you may grab onto and say, 'hey, as a result of our experience from last year, here are a few of the things that we want to keep in place. I think that's no different than in the normal workforce. So scheduling wise, there are a few little things that we liked about what we did in season that might be different. I think most importantly though is it really narrowed the focus on the things that you can control and there's a part of it, where you literally train yourself to not get as consumed with the things that you have no control over."
In that same vein, will you guys do OTAs and minicamp like you are now going forward, or is that something you'll evaluate later?
"Yeah, that's a good question. We probably will evaluate it a little bit more for next year when we get there. Certainly there are a few things that we wait to hear from union and Management Council and we kind of go that direction, follow that lead, but I know that we feel really good about the schedule we've been on. And we feel like, I know just from the coaching staff perspective, all of us, when we meet and we discuss what we're doing, the results and the feedback has been really good."
Couldn't help but notice your hockey picture you put up on social media, how much did you play growing up?
"I played a few years. I don't know if it was Alex (Restrepo) or who posted that. I was like, wait a minute. I don't know how many guys on our team can skate. It is a good question. But no, it's a tough sport to play when you play football. And in that picture was Ty Gretzky, Wayne's oldest son who runs his camps, and that was taken right before, one of the morning sessions at camp and I went out there and skated a little bit. It was a, man, it was just a newly "Zambonied" rink. So it was still wet and I got out on the rink and was skating a little bit. It had been a while and then Ty opened the doors, and 100 eight-year-olds came skating up behind me. I kind of circled back, I fired a few wrist shots at the net and then took the skates off and went home."
With Paulson Adebo, since I think he was the only guy you brought in that opted out last year, do you have to consider anything differently with working back into playing organized football?
"Well, you pay attention to his conditioning level. It was not unusual on the West Coast for players in the PAC 10 or some of those schools. A lot of it, we felt when we were in the draft prep, had a lot to do with the conference they were in. But he's in good shape. He's been training. He has looked impressive. And yeah, we will be smart with all of these guys. But I think the key is the time that they've been here and then between now and training camp, but I think that was the case with a lot of players out west."