Saints quotebook: Sean Payton (December 19, 2018)

Head coach talks about the recent dip in the offense's productivity

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Do you think Marcus Williams has helped eliminate some of the big explosive plays this season?

I think it's been significant. One of the things that we saw with him coming out (of college) was his football instincts and his awareness. He has a great feel for that. He is always around the ball and I think it's something that he's really brought a lot to us being smarter and disciplined.”

Have you seen some communication issues offensively the last couple of weeks?

“We have had a handful, not as much communication-related, but nonetheless things that tangibly we can look at and clean up and then certainly some of the penalties. Those would be specifically things that you've noticed.”

What stands out about JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown?

“They're explosive players. They run well, they have great ball skills. It's challenging with two, relative to how you cover them. I think they transition very well. They can get to top end speed, but they can also stop and that allows them to create the separation and then you partner that with a quarterback like Ben (Roethlisberger) and that makes for a challenging day.”

How do you think the offensive line played with Cameron Tom and Will Clapp in?

“I think overall pretty well. I was pleased.”

Who would have been the emergency lineman had there been another injury?

“We'd have a plan, probably Taysom (Hill). No, I'm kidding you. Listen we'd have a plan. You hope you never have to get to it.”

What have you appreciated about Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger, their longevity and continued success for a long time together?

“First off with Mike (Tomlin) – and I’ve known Mike a long time and his teams have always been physical, tough. They're battle tested. They’ve played in a ton of postseason games and they won a Super Bowl championship, played in another. And I think a veteran quarterback like Ben (Roethlisberger) understands how to win and their record reflects that.”

They, kind of like you guys, have had to adapt. I feel like they've taken turns being a tough, run-first team and one that throws for close to 5,000 yards. Does that say a lot for those guys?

“Yeah. Certainly if you charted the same way with Drew (Brees), if you charted all the receivers Ben’s (Roethlisberger) trained and worked with and all the tight ends and running backs, and even different coordinators, there's been transition when you play as long as he's played and stayed healthy as long as he's stayed. We've seen it happen here with Drew, with the evolution of what you're doing and the same thing I think would be the case with those guys.”

What did you see from the run game Monday?

“We were committed. We felt it was going to be important, and certainly we didn't score as many points as you would like, and yet, I thought that was the difference in the game. I thought we had some explosives. We had one called back that really shouldn't have been. That was another big run by Alvin (Kamara). But I think in the end, it ended up being the difference.”

How significant would it be to wrap up the one seed this week so you have some latitude and possibly have the option of resting some guys next week?

“I think our focus right now is this game in front of us and playing our best football game this weekend. And certainly, as you go through the course of the season, you talk about winning the division and then you talk about improving your seeding. I think everyone's aware of how that all works but the focus is doing what we can to win this week.”

Do they do a lot of five-receiver stuff or was that just something they were doing last week against New England?

“No they carry that package. That 01 package has been good to them. They will throw tight end screens from it. It's pretty challenging. They spread the field well. Ben (Roethlisberger) sees it well. Week by week you see that.”

I assume this is related to the short week, but what led to the practice schedule change today?

“Yeah just getting in late Monday night. Just trying to put some space from when we played last. We'll have meetings, we'll have a walk through, and then gradually begin to do more and more as the week progresses.”

When you look at the offense the last three weeks, it hasn’t looked quite the same as the rest of the season. What are some of the factors for that and how do you feel about it?

“Obviously, you're constantly looking at what are the things you can do to score, how can you improve. I think this past week we shot ourselves in the foot quite a bit. On the road at Dallas, that's a good defense and we felt it was going to be a low-scoring game. At Tampa the same way. So there's some things that we feel like we can clean up and there's some things I know from my standpoint and us as coaches that we can improve on and we'll work to do that.”

On that play you referenced earlier with the long run with Alvin (Kamara) where it got called back on Taysom (Hill’s) holding. Is that direct snap to him something that you've been saving for a while and is that just a thing where you’re trying to find more ways to get the ball in his hands?

“Well it gives you an extra guy in your blocking scheme and it’s something we've messed around with and had up for a few weeks. But you end up with kind of your 11th guy back offensively and Alvin's pretty savvy in that position.”

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