New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Media conference call
Monday, Sept. 6, 2021
Can you talk about how the first day went today with the base of operations being at TCU?
"Today was the first day. So it gives you look, it gives you a chance to really kind of organize what the long term itinerary is going to be, once you actually do it, logistics leaving here arriving there being dressed on the field, lifting weights afterwards (and) getting back. So just a couple of things. A slight alterations relative to putting it on paper, but everything went smooth."
Have you made any plans about where your base of operations will be after the Green Bay game in Jacksonville?
"Look, we haven't gotten that far. My anticipation is that after this game we will be coming back that night to this location."
What are some of the things that you like about the less experienced defensive tackles that you are going with at that position?
"I think they play with good pad level and energy. It's going to take a huge group effort this weekend. We are playing a good football team obviously, a team that has been right near the top of the league in most offensive categories. I think it's going be important that we have a good rotation there, especially with the heat that we are expecting (in Florida)."
Was it realistic that Kwon Alexander would be available this early after suffering that injury?
"I don't know that we looked at games. We're still going to meet in regards to how we want to approach this first game, but I don't know that we set a goal of the first, second game of the season. We set a course on how we wanted him to return gradually to play and will continue to do that."
Can you comment on what condition of the region would be ideal for the team to return its operations to the area and for the possible damage to the Ochsner Sports Performance Center?
"Let me answer the last question first. I think the indoor facility and facility overall came out pretty good. But relative to the exact (state) regarding that, that whole area for our players, our team, our staff to return, that'll, I think take care of itself. And we'll know when that right time is. Obviously, there's a lot that goes into decisions like that, especially when you're dealing with so many different people. And there's over 100 and (closer to) 130 people."
Can you comment on adding Desmond Trufant and what he could possibly bring to the team?
"We have not I do not think announced anything like that. We just discussed it. He was in today to work out and then we are looking at veteran players like him that have that experience. But yeah, nothing at this time."
Is Aldrick Rosas going to be your kicker this week or is that something you are still evaluating?
"Yeah, we'll see. We're evaluating it and we have flexibility with the roster."
You have known Jameis Winston for a long time given familiarity within the NFC South in Tampa Bay. Where have you seen him improve and develop in the mental state of the game in your view?
"Yeah, I think it's good question, because we're in like our second year, just riding back on the bus, we're sitting there talking to each other. And you brought up something that was interesting. It was a good question. And I'm glad he asked (me this example question) in week to week, how you win can change. And it was something that he asked me about relative to when we decide on that, and in how do we go about looking at each week in the objectives to win that game, because I think, look, the maturity level, in the presence of a quarterback to just win and win and win, ultimately, that's how there'll be measured. And I think, I know I've seen growth, and someone who was extremely vested in this process and, and is excited about the start of the season, but I would just be (looking at) overall understanding of how it may change week to week to what you have to do. In other words, it's not the same every week, and then start the (next) week over if you didn't win, you don't know what happened or what cost you (the win)? Or what kept you from winning, but you just start the madness (preparation) all over again. And I think it was a little bit more in depth than that. And so I think that would be one area."
A lot has been said about his decision-making. For a staff what is their process of teaching that?
"It's creating a clean picture. First, with the eligible receivers, running backs and tight ends, making sure that, what they are painting for the quarterback's eyes is pretty clear. I think that's extremely important. Secondly, then is understanding the type of progression relative to…some routes might be an internal triangle progression, some right routes might be read much differently. But just the overall understanding of flare control, and then primary, where your potential alert rows are maybe underneath rows after that. And so, look, I think there's a lot of work that goes on, relative to implementing a play. And then hopefully, that begins to speed up in the quarterback's mind.
Could the heat in Jacksonville work to your advantage Sunday as opposed to what Green Bay worked in at training camp?
"We don't really dive that much into it, we prepare for it. And understand, especially in September, periodically, when we play Carolina or Tampa Bay, or one of these places where it can still be warm, and we think it will be warm on Sunday. The key is preparing for it. More so than trying to figure out if it's an advantage of not certainly you don't want it to be a disadvantage."
What type of choice did the Saints have in Jacksonville as a site?
"Yeah, it wasn't like Baskin Robbins, though. There were a handful of stadium venues that became realistic, and we kind of approached it that way."
What is it that you like in this venue?
"Well, it's the simple logistic is relative to our fan base. And the proximity of people that are either in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Saints fans."
What made sense for TCU and the Dallas area for base of operations?
"I think it's, again, we have kind of focused on the things we can control and I think it was obvious that beginning, what was going to need to be moved? And then, logistically, then it became I think the focus really became much more about the preparation than the actual venue, relative to the game. And circling back, how did that TCU plan come together? While we're in Dallas to begin with, a lot of it had to do with just logistics of where we were from New Orleans. Indianapolis had a scheduling conflict. (We_ didn't want to go as far west as Oxnard. They said that if you look at scheduling in Carolina and New England, it didn't make sense to travel away from where we'd be going for road games. (The) Greenbrier had a scheduling conflict. Between week one and week two, I think San Francisco is spending a week there after their first game between their second game. Dallas answered a lot of questions because we were a close to New Orleans, there are two different airports that can fly in and out of that area in (relation to) New Orleans, but also the rest of the rest of the country. And then while we were here, we were able to scout out facilities and then also scout out hotels. And that made the most sense."
Are there any areas of the organization that typically don't stand out, that stand out in a situation like that?
"I can't speak on that. I know we're a team that throws the ball a lot to the runners. It is just the system we're working and, in each play, he and the other quarterbacks going through the proper progression the same way. Sometimes the best answer is to throw the ball away. He threw one away yesterday and it was a good decision. That's the main thing."
Is there an example where you go through something like this and need something right away that wouldn't normally happen in a normal situation?
"Yeah, look, we have a pretty good routine down (with) the travels. There's a lot of hard cases boxes, video equipment, all of the groups you mentioned, all of people involved in football operation, sometimes their work is done by the time we get started in the morning is a little bit of a (rock band) tour element to it, if you will, everyone just work and focus on their job. But we have done it enough to at least understand what the goals are. And the goals are to create the best environment to learn teach from and prepare to play that week. So there's a number of people that have certainly worked late and work very hard on making this setup, accommodating."
Any examples of the hard work with these logistics with different departments?
"Well, you're constantly problem-solving. And I think that people do a good job of focusing on the things that that they're responsible for. So you deal with film, video, you deal with it, computers, you deal with the food and all the preparation, you deal with security, you deal with transportation. It just goes on and on. All of all of which are important jobs in, in getting a place ready to go. So I think traveling to training camp begins to prepare teams, teams that have gone or have had to go on the road for training camp. But it seems like we've been able to stay the number of different places over the years we've traveled even in preseason. We've done it so much that we don't take it for granted. And yet because I think with each move or with each location, there's uniquenesses in the schedule, I'm still penciling out a few of the things that I think are going to be important with our schedule here."
While this week is a home game technically, the mechanics are a road game for this week. How do you work with your team in terms of avoiding burnout?
"Yeah, I don't think that's the challenge I think we've been in this situation before we've won in this situation before. Do I actually think the opposite can take place? With training camp the two years being separate from hotels (for some players), now you're, you're actually bringing a team a little closer together and an adaptation has to come right at the start of the season. So we try to focus on those things that we can control. But I don't think it's something I look at with a negative light."
Knowing the Saints are a beacon of hope in the area, do you think that will be a point of importance to the team or is it more important to compartmentalize things to get the result you want?
"Yeah, look, I don't think anyone who's been a part of this team or been a part of this organization, would whatever doubt for a second or be able to separate the importance of this team and to our community, it's kind of interwoven, and those players (that) have been here longer can appreciate that more. There's some players that had not been here very long at all that would not have that same background but I think that is something that players are proud in and in recognize the unique fan base they get a chance to play for"
Can you talk about how Michael Parenton has grown as a personnel person, especially in his new role?
"Yes, he's filling in for what Terry (Fontenot) was in he had a (role in) pro personnel. He's (an) extremely hard worker, he's doing a good job. It's a busy time of the year for him with rosters, practice squads. But he's been doing a fantastic job. And I know (he's) watching a lot of tape. I rely on him heavily when it comes to some of these decisions, or guys that we want to work out. And I think he's handling it well."
Do you look at keeping four quarterbacks as just that, or different with the presence of Taysom Hill on the roster with his versatility?
"Well, I think through your latter statement, because of Taysom and his role, and his flexibility, if you will, we will we look at it, obviously a little differently, but he has so much versatility that it's hard to say just on gameday, no, he's going to do these things, and then also be the backup quarterback. I just think that's, that's difficult, relative to his week of preparation. And so we like the room, we like the guys that we have in the room, obviously, we have experience (with Jameis Winston and Trevor Siemian), we have some youth, if you will, with Ian (Book)."
Taysom Hill talked this offseason about being lean to prepare at quarterback. Does that play into his current role?
"Yeah, look, we'll be smart each week relative to what we want to do and how we want to utilize them. We feel like he's one of our better football players. Certainly we'll be mindful of where his weight is right now. He's naturally strong eight and he's someone who's extremely fast. And so it's a matter of just each week, what are the things that we feel like he can do to help us win?"
New Orleans Saints linebacker Kwon Alexander
How do you feel in practice? Do you feel like you're ready to play in this game (vs. Green Bay)?
"Yeah. I feel like I'm ready to get back out there to showcase my talents and get back out there with the team."
Have you had a chance to get to tour TCU to see what it will be like practicing there? How do you think it will go practicing in Fort Worth for a few weeks?
"We didn't get a tour of TCU yet; we've just practiced there. They have a nice stadium, and we appreciate them for letting us practice there. We're just ready to get to it. It's a big (game) week one and we're ready to go."
Are you guys practicing outdoors at TCU or using their indoor facility?
"Today we were in the indoor facility for the first practice. I think we'll switch it up. Whatever coach wants us to do, we're going to do it."
Do you like the idea of playing a game outdoors in Florida?
"I'll play anywhere. I'll play in the cold, the sleet, whatever. I'm just ready to get out there and play. The other guys are the same way, we're just ready to go start hitting, celebrating, and making plays out there. We're all in tune."
Do you feel you need any contact to get ready for the season since you didn't play any in the preseason, or do you feel that will be an easy transition to be ready for full contact in week one?
"I don't have a choice now. I'm going to be ready. I was practicing and getting some contact in, so I should be fine. I'm ready to play in a game. I can't wait to run, hit, and have some fun."
What's been your impression of the linebacker depth with having seven guys on the 53-man roster?
"We have got some young guns here. We had to keep seven, which is a lot. That is a big thing. We have got some ballers that can come in whenever they are ready. Those (young) guys have been working hard. They're giving their all and it's paying off. They're showing why they're still on this team. We've got some dogs, and they're going to be ready when their time comes."
What have you learned about the resiliency about the New Orleans Saints through your experience with this team?
"Through this experience, everyone has been sticking together. Everyone is staying together trying to stay focused because we know this is a big year for us. We're just trying to stay focused and keep going and get ready for this game (Green Bay)."
What do you feel about the uniqueness of this defense with some of the new faces on this year's team?
"Everyone's just hungry. Everyone's going to play, and everyone knows how to play next to each other. We're just hungry and excited. We've got a lot of energy. Everyone brings the energy and that's what we like. We just can't wait to get out there. Like I said, this is going to be a big year for us and we can't wait for y'all to see it."
I know you are always anxious for the season to start, but are you more anxious this year given the way last year ended?
"I'm just anxious every year to get back out there. It's a blessing to be able to play the game that we love. I think everyone is just happy for the first game of the year. We have got to set the tone early and I think we're going to do that. Everyone's just ready and like I said, it's going to be a big year.
Not to put words in your mouth, but you do expect to play this week?
"Oh yeah. I'm playing this week for sure."
Saints defensive tackle Christian Ringo
How are you guys in the defensive tackle room looking at the opportunity with David Onyemata being out 6 weeks (suspension) and Jalen Dalton being out for the year?
"I'm not sure how to answer that. We're just looking to get better, one day at a time, trusting our technique and trusting our coaches."
It has been a while since you've played in a regular season game. What did it mean to you to be placed on the 53-man roster and how are you approaching this right now?
"Right now, it means everything to be on the 53-man roster. We're just getting dialed in, ready to go. We're giving great effort each and every day."
What's the level of excitement for you having not played for a while to be in the NFL again?
"Man, words can't describe it. I'm excited man. I try to let my actions speak for me, but yeah, I'm excited."
Is there any area you've grown being around Ryan Nielsen? How has he coached you up?
"Everything. Coach (Nielsen) is really detailed with his teaching. All you have to do is buy in and your game will elevate. Literally, everything."
How have you guys been looking at the rotation at defensive tackle? How important is it to be cycling guys in, especially when you're missing a few guys?
"We rotate. It's just part of the game. I really don't know how to answer that."
Saints defensive tackle Malcolm Roach
Where do you think is the biggest area of growth for you compared to last year?
"Just playing faster and knowing the defense better now after being here for two years. I know the reason behind doing what I'm doing, like why I'm rushing a certain gap and why I'm taking on a double team, things like that. I'm able to think faster and play faster on the field so I can make more plays."
How is your family doing and did they get through the storm okay?
"Yeah, I went down to see my family in the off time. They're doing pretty good. They lost power for about four or five days, but they're doing well. They're just making due like everyone else is for right now."
Being from Louisiana, can you talk about staying focused on your job but also balancing that with checking on people from back home with the storm?
"At the end of the day, you have to be a professional. I still know what I do with my job. Just like anyone with a job, once you step foot in the building, we have to put things aside because there's nothing you can do about it. There's nothing I can do while I'm at practice that would make anything better with the situation. I focus on football in the building, but when I'm off the field I focus on my personal life. I can't do that when I'm in the building (at practice). The best thing I can do is put a smile on their (family and friends) faces by making plays on Sundays."
Can you put in perspective the opportunity in front of you to play more snaps early in the season?
"It's a great opportunity. It's something I've been thinking about the whole offseason. I've been preparing the entire offseason for this, to go out there and make plays and be a good ballplayer. I am taking it day by day, snap by snap. If I keep doing that, the plays will come. Just being able to help out this football team (is a great opportunity)."
Obviously, you knew you guys would be without David Onyemata for six games, how are you guys looking at this opportunity after Jalen Dalton went down?
"We have just got to get in there and go to work. Guys have to step up, including myself. Guys have to take on bigger roles, and when I say that I include myself in that too. This is what we prepare for. You prepare for this your whole life, who wouldn't want to have a bigger role in the NFL? I've been thinking about this moment my whole life and I've just got to take advantage of it and attack it head on. Coach (Ryan) Nielsen has done a great job preparing me in training camp. I've just got to trust my technique and go out there and play."
Is that kind of like a similar attitude that the rest of the guys have just knowing that you're going to be without some of those studs that you were counting on?
"Yeah, everybody pretty much (has) been thinking the same thing. You just got to go out and go to work. Football is just not going to stop because we are down one person. That game is still going to be played. The ball will be kicked on Sunday and nobody will feel sorry for us, not at all because we wouldn't feel sorry for them if they had something going on. So we've just got to get out there and play football, play the best that we can and play hard."
You're starting off the season against Aaron Rodgers. I mean, what's the level of excitement to kick off the 2021 regular season against this offense and Rodgers?
"It's pretty exciting. Last year we started off against Tom Brady. So it's like an even thing, two great quarterbacks I get to start my seasons off with. Last year it was Tom Brady and this year it is Aaron Rodgers. At the end of the day it is just football though. At the end of the day it's still about going out and playing, but it's a great opportunity to go out there and play."
Knowing there's going to be so many un-scouted looks in week one, what are some keys and how far back do you look at the tape with your defense to prepare for this game?
"You look back at things that teams did on you last year, look back on things that teams did first game of the seasons, (inaudible) things like that. It is kind of an unknown, because the first game season not much film is out there. But at the end of the day, everybody goes back to their old form. I feel like everybody ends up going back to what brings them success and things like that. So I think you've just going to be prepared for anything, but then adapting once the game gets settles in. I think they're going to get back to what gave them success these past years or so."
*How much of a factor is chemistry with you and the other defensive tackle on the field with you? Has that been a challenge establishing that at all, just with some of the injuries and moving parts? *"I haven't really thought about that the chemistry and things like that, because at the end of the day, I want to go make plays, stop the run and rush the passer. So we've all got common goals and things like that. So if everybody's still thinking that at the end of the day, we're all on one accord."
How important was that experience that you had last year, just getting in there, getting used to that game speed, all that good stuff?
"It was very big. It was very big. I had to say, because when I came back to training camp this year, when we did OTAs and things like that, I was just so much more confident because I knew what to expect. I knew what to expect I knew what the game speed was like, I knew what the physicality of the game was like. So last year was kind of unknown, because I was just getting my feet wet and things like that. But as the season went on, last year, I started adjusting to it and it's just going up from there, playing more confident, things like that. So last year was very big."
Where did you go to on the days off prior to today?
"I went to Baton Rouge. I was in New Orleans for like an hour, like two hours."
How did you get there to the area? Did you fly to Baton Rouge? Do you have to drive all the way?
"I flew to Baton Rouge. And then I think it was Saturday, my mama drove me to New Orleans to my apartment to pick up some clothes and stuff, get ready to come back here and go to work."
And what was that drive like? Just looking out the window and stuff and seeing what you saw?
"It's almost something you've seen before. We've seen that so many times, It's almost like you just have to say like, 'Man, when are we going to get something.' Seeing all the trees, seeing all the devastation, things like that. It's like the same picture, the same dream you have a lot of times. But one thing about my state, we're going to shake back from it. We always do. It's never stopped us before. It's not going to stop us now."