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New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton Media Q&A (Nov. 26, 2011)

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Media Availability

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Opening Statement:

“Let me go through our final report here in regards to our players.  DE Turk McBride (left ankle) did not practice; he’ll be out for this game.  Jon Vilma (left knee) did not practice; he’ll be questionable.  DE Cameron Jordan (right hand) was full; he’s probable.  CB Patrick Robinson (stomach) was full; he’s probable.  It’s just those four players.  We’ll see where Jon’s at on game day.  We have a lot of time between now and Monday night.”

Are the Giants better than other teams at dictating a slow game pace?

“There are some things that go into how a specific team can control a game.  One thing is they’re good on third down.  When you’re able to possess the football, then you can gain control to some degree or play maybe as you want to.  Usually that ties with a running game and it ties with good defense.  Their pressure and their ability to get after the passer is exceptional.  Offensively you have to be mindful of that and you have to really make sure on first and second down you’re getting your positive yards.  When you get into those third-and-eights or nines or tens, I think that plays to certainly the advantage of any team you’re playing, but definitely the team we’re playing this week.  You’d like to think each week that you’re going to be able to have that control of a game and play it the way you see fit, and yet you’re always mindful of how the game is actually going and you have to be flexible enough to recognize that and adjust and quickly get that communicated to your players.  Having the chance to play this game at home is significant, especially when we play at home on prime time in night games.  Our fan base and that stadium is a big plus and it’s something that has served us well.  It will be a factor in this game Monday night.  There will be a lot of excitement about it.  It’s an important game for both teams.  When you’re playing games in late November and December that are significant, it’s exciting.”

Can you talk about why this team plays really well in prime time games at home?

“I think there’s the actual noise element that makes it so challenging to deal with in regards to the snap count and in regards to rushing the passer in the passing situations.  That’s the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about a home-field advantage.  I think we have a real educated fan base and they understand when to be loud.  This is a game when we’re going to need their best stuff too.  We’re going to have to play exceptionally well to win this type of game.  We’re going to have to be outstanding in regards to our crowd support.  It’s hard to put an exact worth to what that does, but there’s a total when a game finishes that whether it’s an offsides, whether it’s late getting off a ball on third-and-eight and we get pressure as opposed to the quarterback being able to find his time for the third receiver.  It’s tough to specifically say here’s exactly what the fans scored, but we know that it’s substantial.”

Did you ever find yourself conflicting with the offense in New York when you coached the Giants since it’s not the typical offense we know you like?

“If you went back really and studied the tradition, I’ve talked with Bill Parcells about that, and his first Super Bowl team was pretty explosive offensively.  Coach Coughlin was a member of that team as an assistant coach, but they obviously had very good quarterback play.  They were strong on the offensive line.  They were explosive at receiver.  It really came to fruition when you saw that win that they had out in California against Denver for that first Super Bowl.  Shortly thereafter, their next Super Bowl win was with (Jeff) Hostetler when Phil Simms was hurt, and one of Bill’s strengths was understanding the team he had at that time.  Ottis Anderson was running the football well and they had an outstanding defense.  Both Super Bowl seasons they were outstanding defensively.  That kind of took on a shape of its own.  More recently with Tom and Eli Manning with the Super Bowl win over New England, I think there is that perception that it’s been a place that’s had great tradition.  The elements in the old Giants Stadium were significant in throwing the football later in the year with the wind being a big factor along with the cold weather.  I think when you look statistically at their big plays down the field with Eli throwing and their big receivers going up and making plays above their head, I think you sometimes grow to have a perception of what historically has been a way that an organization has won.  The one common denominator has been real good defense.  I think it’s varied over the years as to what they’ve been offensively.”

Eli Manning right now has the most consecutive starts for an NFL quarterback.  What does it mean for a franchise when you draft a guy who is able to play every Sunday?

“A lot is talked about when we use that term stability.  I think stability exists not when you just have the same person in place, but when you feel like you have someone who’s outstanding in place and you can continue to build a team around in other spots.  I think in New York that’s the case.  When you draft a quarterback and then you find out that his development and his production has matched what you hoped it would be when you selected him or when you signed him, i.e. Drew Brees in free agency.  That’s when you begin to maybe use that term stability.  Not only do we have that continuity or the same player back, but we have production and we feel like it’s something that can help us win championships.  That’s significant.  I think it’s a quarterback-driven league.  I think that you’re trying to surround that player in your program with all the other different elements that can help you win a championship.  When you have the quarterback that you know can win a championship, that’s a big part of your personnel equation in regards to getting to where you want to go.”

What’s it like knowing you have a quarterback like Drew Brees on draft day and you know he’ll be there, whereas other teams are looking for quarterbacks?

“We’re in the procurement of talent business.  That’s essential and vital to the long-term health of your team, not just the short-term.  Each year there are times when you go sign a player more on a short-term basis in free agency that can help add a presence to your team and you have a vision for what you’re looking for with that player.  When it comes to young players in the draft, I think that each year when we put up our board, on the right hand of our board we put up every team and we put up what we think are those team’s specific needs because that’s valuable information as the draft begins and you’re looking at teams ahead of you that might want to select the same player or maybe not.  Clearly everyone in our league places a significant value on the signal-caller and we’re no different.  That’s an important element to winning football games.  When it comes to draft strategy what’s important is at least your research and knowledge of what your peers want to do.  There’s no certainty to that, but it’s what you think they want to do in regards to their need.  That helps when you go through the process.”

Do you circle games in which you’re playing former teams you’ve coached for?

“Someone from New York asked me a similar question like that earlier in the week.  It seems like a long time ago that I coached there.  It was probably the most important stop for me as an assistant coach in my early career.  I had just spent two years with Philadelphia in 1997 and ’98, and then I had that opportunity in ’99 to go to New York.  What’s significant about it is there’s a rich tradition there of not only good football teams, but also an organization that has been looked upon by us in the league as one of the flagship teams and one of the flagship organizations.  Just having the chance to work with so many of the people that are currently in the building and a number of people that are no longer with that team, it was a huge step for me spending four years there and having a chance to work with the late Mr. Tisch and the late Mr. Mara.  Those were special opportunities that don’t come around very often for young coaches.  In that setting in an area that obviously has a lot of media coverage to build a reputation and be a part of some very good football teams and more importantly some very good people is something that I’ve never taken for granted.  Leaving for that opportunity in Dallas, I always looked back at those years as some that were for me years of me being very grateful and humble for spending four years there with the Giants and recognizing that’s a special place and it has been over the years and to have had a chance to go to Dallas, another place that has had great tradition, to some degree if you eventually have a chance to become a head coach you’re a little bit of a product of the people that were involved along the way – the real good coaches, the real good personnel people in the organizations that you’ve worked.  I’ve been real fortunate that way.  When it comes to big games and getting ready to play big games, I think we’re very unbiased as to who it is and more really focused on it’s a good football team and it’s a team that’s well coached.  I’ve said this a number of times, whether it’s a Bill Belichick or a Tom Coughlin, these guys are special coaches.  These are guys that have had success not just on a short-term basis, but over the long haul.  I think that’s important to the history of our game and it’s certainly as a young coach, you look at it as a tremendous challenge.  We know coming into this game that this is a team that’s hungry and will be ready to play.  we’re going to have to have that same mindset and have to match that same intensity and have that same hunger coming off a bye.”

Do you think the Dan Marino record is important to Drew Brees?

“I think he answered it best last week.  The very first word out of Drew’s mouth was winning football games.  I think if that were to come while we were winning football games, then that would be a great achievement and accomplishment and one that is really more of a team accomplishment rather than an individual accomplishment.  I think all those other things that come from winning games, whether it’s Pro Bowl nominations or records, I think the special thing about the locker room that we have is that every one of the players would say it still starts with us being successful winning.  It really transcends any individual feat for all of us and that’s what you’re really hoping to get when you build a program that the one element of winning football games, whether it’s 6 to 3 or 36 to 33, it does not matter as long as you win the game and have a good season and give yourself a chance to play for championships.  If it’s not the case, then you’re missing the beat a little bit.  I think all of us feel that way.”

How important is the stability of the coaching staff to the team?

“I think it goes right up the food chain.  Ownership has been consistent, the General Manager and the people in our personnel side of what we do and the coaching staff right through the roster, these are ingredients that history has told us are important, not essential, but important to having that staying power that you look for as a team.  How to you place a certain value on any one part of that?  It’s hard to do and yet the sum total of it all is what’s most important - be it the staff, your coaching staff, the General Manager, your owner, your quarterback, your middle linebacker – those are the things you look to put in place so that every season you’re looking forward to an opportunity to win a championship.”

 

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