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New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton Media Availability Q&A (Jan. 3, 2012)

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Media Availability

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Opening Statement:

"There's no injury report today so here's just our roster transactions. We signed G Eric Olsen from the Redskins practice squad. He'll be in number 70, so he goes to our active roster. We placed RB Mark Ingram on Reserve/Injured with his toe. We signed LB Nate Bussey to our active roster and placed LB Will Herring on Reserve/Injured. From a practice squad standpoint, we signed WR Andy Tanner and LB Derry Beckwith, who replaces Nate Bussey's spot on the practice squad and then released QB Sean Canfield. Today was a little bit lighter just with the short week. We'll kind of get back to a little bit more of a normal routine tomorrow."

How significant is Mark Ingram's toe?

"Enough to where the setback a week ago put him behind where he would have not really had any chance to come back in the postseason. He'll have the surgery this upcoming week and then begin the rehab."

Is it a long-term injury?

"No, it's a different deal. It's a turf toe."

Are you planning to incorporate Chris Ivory more with Mark Ingram being out?

"I think we kind of like the formula we're working with right now. He's someone that is good in protections, he'll handle the play-action pass and a lot of the base stuff. I think we're comfortable with the roles that we have currently."

How much emphasis will be on stopping Calvin Johnson?

"I think anytime you're looking to defend an opponent, you look closely at what they try to do. You also look at personnel, and Calvin is one of those elite players, probably one of the best receivers in our game right now. You have to mix up looks and you have to be smart when you're not getting safety help over the top. It's having a handful of things, not just one predominant defense that is on top of a player like that. You also recognize that he's going to make plays and make earned catches. You just want to make sure you try as best you can to avoid the big play."

When you look back at the first meeting, what did you think about stepping away from that game with the Lions?

"We felt it was a close game and certainly there were a lot of things that went into the end score. They did a good job against us early in the game on third downs defensively. I think more than anything else the second time around the same statistics, be it the turnovers, the red zone efficiency, the third downs on offense and defense, all of those things will play a big part in who's successful."

Are they a team that can rush four and drop seven and create problems for you?

"It's what they do. They're one of the top two or three teams in the league with just pressure from their four-man front. That's certainly something that they do a good job with. They will pressure, but they're real active up front. If they're hurrying the quarterback with coverage behind it, that's problematic."

When they do that, are they daring you to run the ball more?

"You start on third down first. I think it's back to having that balance. Just because you're rushing four doesn't mean you're in a run-friendly defense with the safety down. You can play zone with a four-man rush and be in a run-friendly defense. I think it's having that balance and that ability at the line to change plays and recognize the battle of pressure and protecting the quarterback is key."

How much do you think the loss to Seattle in the postseason last year made a difference with motivation this year?

"I don't know. I think when you're season finishes with a hard loss, it's a bitter taste and it's disappointing. I don't know how much that loss played a part in where we're at and what we're doing today. Certainly we have a chance to reflect on it as we get ready to start the 2011 playoffs and you understand the finality of just one team. The team is different. There are a lot of new faces, and yet the lesson still is very clear."

Is playoff experience a big factor in this game?

"I don't think so. I think rosters change and this is a different team. The game is quick. It's three hours and a dozen possessions, maybe a little bit more or less. It's eliminating the mistakes and the things that keep you from winning."

Can you talk about Ndamukong Suh?

"He's significant. He's one of the better defensive tackles in our league. He's active, he's strong, and he creates problems in your run offense and your pass offense. He's very active and athletic. He's powerful and explosive. He'll be a challenge. It will a good matchup for our players inside, whether it's Jahri (Evans), Carl (Nicks), or (Brian) de la Puente. He's one of the better players in the league."

What has gone into this team playing so well at home?

"I think teams that play well at home are maybe teams that are better. It starts with us becoming a better football team and then factoring in the inside environment. You get that elevated sound from playing in a dome especially in a night game. I think our crowd does a great job. This will be an important game for them. It starts with playing good football. The same thing when asked about your road record. Generally if you're starting to play better on the road, you're playing better football."

Have you changed anything schedule-wise over the last couple of years?

"No, not really. The only thing we look at closely schedule-wise is, for instance, the Saturday game that changes your week a little bit here. Typically when you end up playing prime time games or night games, you alter schedules and you try to get into a routine that way. We've been able to do that."

How much does it help to have a quarterback that seems to have been through every type of scenario heading into the playoffs?

"I think from a quarterback standpoint, there are certain things that will take place during a game that may be different from what Drew (Brees) sees on film during the week or what he's seen maybe leading up to that game. He's someone that quickly processes information and can get the ball to the right area based on the defense he's seeing. Certainly each year I feel like he's improved in regards to not only his play, but his communication with other players on the rest of the offense, the linemen. There's a lot that goes into the protection calls in regards to our passing game. I think just that experience from a rep standpoint, him being in year six with this offense, all those things have helped him each year get better. I think that competitive aspect that he has gives us a chance to win each week."

Are you a lot more confident with the running game going into this game?

"I think you have probably more confidence in the health of your running back position. The confidence is something you have to earn and it happens over a longer period of time rather than just a game. I think that point of emphasis heading into this year was something that we felt was important for us as a team, not just offensively but defensively in regards to time of possession and clock management. It's something that we feel will be important in this game along with the depth and the health of our running backs."

How remarkable is it that Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham weren't on that '09 team and are now doing the things they are on this team?

"I think it's a fluid league in regards to rosters and free agency. With Jimmy, he's a draft pick who's quickly gotten acclimated to what we're doing. Both of them I would say are quick studies. They learn very fast. In Darren's case, the uniqueness without the true free agency that we're used to and coming into training camp, he picked things up very fast. I think to some degree, that's a product of where we are as a league and you're going to have new players each year, there's going to be turnover on your roster, and it's unique this year in that we didn't have the normal offseason. We didn't have the normal minicamps and OTA's For Darren, it was right into training camp."

Do you think the way you run your offense, it's kind of like a sleeping giant for tight ends?

"I think teams value that position for a lot of reasons. I think it creates a different element to your passing game and helps you with some of the inside matchups on linebackers and safeties. It's a position that's hard to find, and it's one that each year we look closely at. It seems like for a number of years we went into each draft thinking we have to find a way to get a tight end. Fortunately, two years ago we were able to do that."

With some general manager openings here, would you be surprised if some teams were looking at people in the Saints organization?

"I think with success comes each year an opportunity for coaches or people in personnel. I think our league is one in which when changes are made, they look and place a value on teams that are having success. Fortunately we've had pretty good continuity and we've had coaches go on and other people go on to help other people elevate positions. Those are the problems you want to have. I think our people in college scouting and pro personnel, our talent acquisition department, has done a very good job. It's something that is really the life-blood of our program."

What's the biggest challenge of not having been to the playoffs?

"I'm trying to think if there's one specific thing. I go back to our experience back in 2006, which was a first time for all of us. I think the big thing, and I can't speak for Coach Schwartz, but I think the big thing is your routine and your schedule and kind of staying true to what your players are used to during the work week and not really moving off of that and understanding it's the same things you preach in week eight for success really don't change in week 18. The same areas in regards to ball security and takeaways and pressure on the quarterbacks or lack thereof -- those same things that win and lose in the regular season win and lose in the playoffs as well."

 

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