Bill Belichick, Sean Payton conference calls ahead of Patriots-Saints matchup

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PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK

CONFERENCE CALL WITH NEW ORLEANS MEDIA

September 13, 2017

Q: What stands out about Thomas Morstead and has made him an effective punter?

BB: Everything. I mean, he’s got great leg strength, placement, technique. He’s a good situational punter, handles the rush well, good directional punter, good plus-50 punter, can change field position. I mean, he’s really good, really good.

Q: Do you prepare your team differently when you’re getting ready to play Morstead?

BB: Yeah, you take the jugs machine, crank it up on high and shoot the ball up 55 to 70 yards downfield a yard from the sideline, like he does most of the time. You know, not many guys that can punt the ball like him. Again, it’s not just his distance but it’s placement, accuracy. I mean, his plus-50 punts are like from the minus-40. He’s just different because of his strength and power and control.

Q: What makes Jordan Richards a candidate to play linebacker for you?

BB: Well, we have different roles in our defense, so depending on what we ask a certain position to do or certain role to do, then we put players in there that we feel like have the skills to do that. You can call him whatever you want to call him, but in the roles that we put the players in, if we feel they have the skills to do it and they’re comfortable in it, then we play them there.

Q: What have you learned about Brandin Cooks since acquiring him?

BB: Brandin works extremely hard, very detail-oriented kid, practices hard, is here every day, really tries to do things exactly the way you want him to do them and coachable, dependable. He has a very good skillset. He’s been great to work with. He’s great to coach.

Q: Did you pursue Cooks or did the Saints come to you with that trade possibility?

BB: Yeah, well, in the end, it all worked out, so that’s really all that matters.

Q: When Cooks was coming out in the draft, how much were you interested in him then?

BB: He was selected before we had an opportunity to pick, so we never really had a chance to draft him. You never know how the draft is going to go, and there are draft day trades and everything else, so we scout all the players in the draft because you never know how it’s going to go on draft day. We spent time with him in the draft, before the draft.

Q: You do a good job of rotating your running backs. What’s the key to getting the ball to all of those guys?

BB: Well, our goal is to move the ball, score points and try to win games, so that’s really what we’re trying to accomplish. We do what we feel like we need to do to do the best we can with that. That’s really the goal.

Q: What’s it like going against a coach like Sean Payton and trying to scheme against him?

BB: Well, I have so much respect for Sean, what he’s done, what he’s done for the game, what he’s done for that franchise. We’ve had an opportunity to work together on several joint practices and offseason things like that. I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s been a good friend, and I have a ton of respect for him as a football coach and as a person. But, this week is a competitive week between the Patriots and the Saints. I’m sure we’ll both put our very best efforts into trying to win the game on Sunday, and then after that things can change a little bit. But, this week, it’s a highly competitive situation and everybody will be doing their best to perform their best on Sunday.

Q: What do you think Payton’s impact has been on the game?

BB: Well, I mean, he took a franchise that hadn’t had a lot of success, hadn’t won a playoff game in 30-something years, to a few years winning a Super Bowl title and consistently being one of the most competitive teams in the league.

Q: When you look at the joint practices you’ve had with the Saints over the years, does it make it easier to prepare for the various personnel groupings the Saints will use?

BB: Well, again, those practices are geared more towards evaluating the younger players on your team and preparing your team for the regular season. We’re not scheming and game planning against each other. In fact, we tell each other kind of what we’re going to do so we can prepare for it so we can give the players an opportunity to know what they’re going to do and evaluate how they perform in that setting. It’s a totally different situation. There’s, I’d say, very little carryover. Joint practices are great because Sean’s great to work with. He handles his players and his staff in a very professional way so that when you work with him, your team can get better and his team gets better and it’s productive all the way around. It’s great cooperation and communication. That’s a huge benefit to working with Sean and working with the Saints organization. As far as scheming and game planning and X-ing and O-ing it, that’s not really what the point of those practices are.

Q: How rare would you say it is to coach in a game with two quarterbacks as accomplished as Tom Brady and Drew Brees? Do you think their longevity is specific to them or part of a growing trend in the NFL?

BB: Yeah, I don’t really know about the trends. I mean, they’re both great players, no doubt about that. They’ve both had tremendous careers.

Q: What do you think is the most impressive aspect of Brees’ game?

BB: Well, again, it’s pretty much everything. I don’t see any weaknesses. He’s productive in all situations – big plays, third down, red area. He’s athletic, he can extend plays, he’s a good decision maker, gets rid of the ball quickly, sees defensive mistakes and opportunities very well. He’s got great vision and anticipation, good game management, good situational football player. He’s smart, very accurate. Not really any weaknesses to his game.

Q: How many similarities do you see between him and Brady?

BB: Well, I mean, they’re both great players. They both have had great careers. They both do a lot of things very well. Different systems with different teammates, so it’s never going to be the same. But, they’ve both been very good.

Q: What did you see out of Austin Carr in training camp?

 

BB: Austin worked hard, was out there every day, primarily played in the slot for us, had a good training camp, was productive in preseason.

Q: What do you make of the differences in time each team has to prepare for this game? Is that something that NFL schedule makers should consider?

BB:  Yeah, we’re just really focused on getting ready for the Saints. Other things, like schedules and so forth, we don’t have any control over, so you’ll have to talk to somebody else about that. We don’t have anything to do with that.

Q: When you’re evaluating the Saints offense, how much does Alvin Kamara remind you of other backs that they’ve had over the years and what stands out about him?

BB: Yeah, I think all those guys have similarities and Sean uses them in similar ways. Kamara’s got a good skillset. He can do a lot of things. He can run inside, run outside, catch the ball, return kicks. He’s got good playing strength and balance, good speed for big plays and is an excellent receiver. So, he has a lot of things going for him. He’s a hard guy to match up against. He’s got good skills.

Q: In Adrian Peterson’s film from the last game, does anything stand out to you about what he can still do?

BB: Well, I think you saw it on the first play. I mean, he’s got great power, very good run instincts, runs well. He’s a guy that, if he gets a little bit of space, he can turn it into a big play in a hurry. I don’t have any question about his play-making ability or the impact that he can have on the game. He’s a very talented player that I have a lot of respect for. He works hard, he’s tough, he’s dependable, very team oriented. I’m sure he’s a great addition to their organization. I’m sure he’ll have a great year. I know he’s trained for hard for it.

Q: What did you see from Peterson when you brought him in for a visit this offseason?

BB: Yeah, all the things that I just talked about.

Q: Was there a reason you didn’t sign him?

BB: Well, I mean, in the end, we make decision that we feel are best for the football team. There are a lot of players out there, there’s a lot of options, and we visit and work out a lot of players and we go through that process with a lot of draft choices, too. I mean, you can’t have everybody on your team. You can only have so many guys.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Did he (Jon Dorenbos) undergo surgery yesterday? What’s the word on him?

“I haven’t heard anything back, I’m waiting. I know those were his plans. I know he had selected a surgeon. Hopefully we hear something sooner than later. As of this morning I haven’t heard.”

You guys started three rookies on defense (and) started another on offense, played Alvin (Kamara) a lot, how did those guys handle it as a group as a whole?

“I thought overall I was fairly pleased with the young players. Certainly there’s a ton of things we have to clean up on tape. We have a short week to do it so that’s what we’re preparing to do right now.”

You have a good relationship with Bill Belichick, what are some of the challenges preparing for a guy you’re close with? Is it harder or easier when you know the guy so well?

“It is generally harder when the team and coach is good. It would be easier if the team and coach was not so good. Regardless of whether you know the gentleman or not obviously he has a very good football team. They have been extremely successful. We have had a handful of joint practices. The focus for us is really on our team and improving the things that kept us from winning this past weekend.”

Did you guys do any kind of internal review to find out, I know you officially started four rookies and that didn’t even count Alvin Kamara, is that a high for you since you’ve been head coach here?

“We didn’t do an internal review after the game between Monday night and where we’re at today in regards to rookies starting.”

I just meant researching ahead of time. Do you know even offhand if that’s the most? Did it seem unusual or rare for you?

“I’d say probably it’d be towards the higher number in counting yet that’s not important.”

Why is that?

“In other words, we’re starting the best players. Guys we feel like give us the best chance to win. Comparing that versus other prior years doesn’t’ seem to give us any more advantage. Obviously it’d be a note that I would have maybe or someone would pass it along. But it’s all relative to this team.”

That answer might apply here as well, you had seven new starters on defense, eight if you count P.J. (Williams) even though he was your week one starter in 2016, what are the inherent contributions to turnovers on defense?

“Part of it’s trying to put the players in the best position possible to have success. Now, are they doing what they’re being asked? Do they know what to do? These are a few of the things we have to evaluate these players on. But clearly with the way we had played in the past, that wasn’t good enough. That wouldn’t be very smart. That’s still ongoing. There’s tape for them to watch coming in this morning

What did you think of the flag on Alex Anzalone when you looked at it again on tape after the game?

“I thought it was a tough call, tough decision. It’d be hard for them to say anything different, but I think the player is doing well.”

When you look at a play like that second touchdown on (De’Vante) Harris, how much of that is technique versus a receiver making a really good play?

“You are talking about the tight red zone, back shoulder? That’s a good play. You have a receiver, you have a good throw location. That is part of playing corner and we will continue to work (with him). But I think he’s competing there and in position. You have to give them credit. From a throw and catch standpoint, we try to do that often with Mike (Thomas).”

When you are reviewing tape in a situation like that, do you focus more on you were in a good position?

“We would not dwell on that maybe like you would. We would hit the clicker to the next play. That specific play. Does that make sense? Like now we may spend 15 minutes on another play with busted coverage and what are they being told? How are we coaching it? Why has this happened? But that back shoulder, that throw and catch, we’d get on to the next play and talk about leverage a little more and eyes. But a lot of it is just depending on the play.”

What do you think the primary similarities and differences are between (Drew) Brees and (Tom) Brady?

“They’re different in a lot of ways. I would say the similarities, obviously they’re similar in age and the success that they’ve both enjoyed in their careers. I think they are both comfortable with the pocket. I can speak more about Brees than I can Tom just from the obvious that I’ve coached and been around him. I think that clearly both are extremely diligent in their preparation and the way that they take care of themselves. I think that is some of the obvious.”

Do you remember any of your thoughts of those guys coming out of college? Any vision that these are two guys who could last and be special? Or not necessarily?

“I remember the evaluation of both players very well. I remember the evaluation of Brady, we share an agent. I remember him coming out of Michigan and I remember Drew’s evaluation coming out of Purdue. If any one of us had a crystal ball, you’d be taking them in the first three picks of any draft. But I remember both of those evaluations well.”

What was the thought that stood out for you on Brady’s plusses and minuses back then?

“He was tough. Lloyd Carr, was coach (at Michigan) if I recalled (he) told me, ‘he is the toughest player he’s ever coached’. So you saw a little of that grit and toughness. He is a good leader. He had a strong arm. Those were some of the things. Ernie (Accorsi) would have my evaluation, it’s in New York somewhere.”

What’s it like preparing for situations like (Adrian) Peterson going back to Minnesota on Monday?

“I’ve said this before, every week there’s going to be a common (situation). Next week it’ll be A.J. (Klein). And the week after that it’ll be some (one else), Kenny Stills. And the week after that, it’s pretty common. We have to prepare for the player and understand his strengths and weaknesses and how he runs routes and the splits he takes.”

Coach Belichick said that Thomas Morstead is as good as a punter as this league has ever seen, how much do you agree with that given what you’ve seen and how much do you appreciate having a guy like Thomas on you squad?

“Thomas is athletic. I think that he’s done it for a long time and it’s significant when you can change field position. It’d be important for him to punt well this weekend.”

On the Jon Dorenbos thing, is that trade officially going to be rescinded or are the Eagles just sending the pick back? What were the conditions on that?

“You’d have to ask Mickey (Loomis). I’m not sure of the specifics. I just gave you what I thought was going to happen. In fact, I know that that’s what’s going to happen. You can check with Mickey on the specifics.”

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