Quotes: Sean Payton, Demario Davis as Saints start bye week

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Demario Davis
LANDOVER, MD – OCTOBER 10: New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) walks back to the lockerroom after the game between the Washington Football Team and the New Orleans Saints on October 10, 2021 at the FedExField in Landover, MD (Photo by Stephen Lew).

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Monday, October 11, 2021

How did you feel about the win after watching the tape?

“I felt good. I mentioned after the game from an offensive perspective, they got into some heavy fronts, they played a lot of man to man. It wasn’t going to be a zone game. Generally speaking, when that happens, you’re one going to hit some big plays and that’s exactly what happened. They played a few snaps of some single safety, three deep, for under match or some quarters. But for the most part, we received a lot of heavy fronts. We thought that would be the case, especially with the injury at linebacker and then, defensively we knew containing their quarterback and some of the RPOs they give him (Taylor Heinicke) were going to be the key. So obviously, in the kicking game, Blake (Gillikin) was outstanding. It was a good win, a good road win.”

How limited was your play calling after Taysom Hill and Deonte Harris both left the game?

“There are some plays, when you have an injury to a player, there are some plays that you’re just not going to call because it might have been just the focal point of that player. And then there’s a good portion of your offense where Deonte’s backup, whether it’s Kenny Stills, or one of the other receivers is learning that package. The tight ends are the Fs are learning some of the stuff Taysom is doing. But there are a few plays that you just take a sharpie through.”

What was the sort of plan behind the Bradley Roby’s and Paulson Adebo’s usage at cornerback yesterday?

“We felt when we traded for him he was going to be a good addition for us. How do we get him on the field? And obviously, Paulson’s (Adebo) playing well, but it’s a good challenge for us to sort out defensively. Keep those guys actively involved in not only the base defense, but other personnel packages.”

Was there a specific plan for Bradley Roby?

“I know DA (Dennis Allen) and I were talking with him that there were some situations, where we wanted to see him and I’m sure we’ll continue to be smart in how we use all those guys. Paulson’s been playing well and at the start of the season, it was a position that we were not concerned with, but from a depth standpoint, it was something that we felt we needed to address and I think the good news is we have.”

Have you been able to see or talk with Taysom Hill today?

“Yeah, we won’t cover any injuries. I think that’s where you’re going. He’s doing well.”

When you say you have to take a sharpie to it was that a high percentage of plays where you just couldn’t call it?

“I think probably there’s seven or eight plays, there’s a handful of the quarterback run/slash/pass packages that we would carry each week with Taysom (Hill). And there were two or three plays that Deonte (Harris) had gotten to work on during the week. Those are the ones that came to mind right away.”

Where do you stand with your kicker situation right now?

“That’s a good question, a fair question. Hopefully Wil (Lutz) is close to getting back and I think he is. In the meantime, we’ll make sure we evaluate each of our options and all of our options. And the good news is we have an additional week to do that.”

How do you evaluate Pete Werner’s process as a rookie?

“He’s doing well, he’s smart, has good instincts. There’s things that come up in a game that maybe that he hadn’t seen as much as at the college game. But he’s one of those guys that functionally can correct a mistake and then not let it repeat and it’s good to see his progress.”

How do you balance putting Alvin Kamara as a punt returner, while also making sure to limit the hits he takes?

“Yeah, I think it’s your instincts and your gut relative to how that game is going and I think that we’ve utilized Alvin as a kick returner before with success, as a punt returner before (as well). But all that being said, it’s the bigger number, last week, we didn’t throw him a pass, the sky was falling, but you’re still looking at overall just how’s he handling the football? Obviously yesterday he was tremendously impactful with what he was doing. And I was very comfortable with him returning punts.”

What’s the schedule like now for you all the next over the next week or so?

“Well, there’s three or four different groups. Players, the injured players will be here receiving rehab (and) recovery, we’ll do some self-scout as a staff. The non-vaccinated players, which are few, will stay right here. And the other players will have a good majority of this week (off). Obviously, we have an additional day because we don’t play until the following Monday night. So it’s jumping ahead on Seattle looking at ourselves and then really spending a lot of time with these guys that are in recovery and rehab and hopefully getting a number of the starters back in the next game or two.”

Did you get a chance to see Dan Campbell’s reaction to another tough last yesterday to the Vikings?

“Yeah, I did.”

What is it about him that, obviously, this means a lot to every coach, but is that him wearing his emotions on his sleeve?

“I think it’s that and then shoot, they lost a game with no time left on the longest field goal in the history of the NFL that hit the crossbar and bounced over. They’ve lost some tough games and one of the challenges when you’re a first time coach is you implement a certain way of doing things and early on whenever there’s change, there’s an initial buy in and I’m sure he and all of those guys feel a little bit frustrated. But there’s never been a more competitive, more caring person. And I just had the good fortune of being around him for the most part of his career, both as a player and as a coach.

Have you reached out to him lately?

“Listen, yeah, nothing for an article. But yeah, he and I, he’s someone that I stay in touch with.”

Adam Trautman’s role feels like it has been heavily blocking the first few weeks. Is that a product of some of the injuries to offense and playing more conservative in nature? Is that something that needs to be expanding? Obviously, he had a big play and a couple of nice catches yesterday.

“Yeah, look, the tight end is someone who blocks and catches and so we have to continue to find opportunities for him. Certainly both in the passing game and finding those situations where he is blocking is obviously much easier. But he is playing well. He had a good choice route yesterday. Good release, and he has pretty good football savvy, and I think that goes a long way.”

You talk all the time about the game, there not being like an imperfect pocket in the NFL anymore, at least very rarely. Is there a skill to negotiating the pocket, the muddiness of it or is that just instinctive? Can you coach it?

“I think it’s both. I think you can improve on that. It’s not like, ah, because the pocket does move a little. You’re referencing I know Andrus (Peat’s) play where we kind of get stepped as we’re throwing it, you’d like not to have as much push, me the coach would like to have him in the right shoes so he’s not slipping there. A ton of things go on with each play, but to your question, that the pocket’s ever changing in our league, in other words throughout the course of the game, and you have to be able to negotiate it, climb it, feel it. Those two players last night were good examples when you just watch the game, how much subtle movement. I’m not talking about flushing outside of it, I’m just talking about within it. I think that’s something that is necessary.”

What goes into deciding when a cornerback like Marshon (Lattimore) is going to shadow a guy? I mean, is it when it’s distinctive that one receiver is a more dangerous threat than the others?

“I think it’s a good start. And then I think oftentimes it’s the type of receiver as well that goes into it. Marshon’s got great length. He certainly is up for any challenge. So it is targets, but it’s also stature and then where we see that receiver aligning.”

Then in general, Marshon (Lattimore) has done great things. You guys gave him a big contract extension at the beginning of the year. He didn’t really have a ton to prove to you, but has he really impressed you with how well he’s playing this season, locked in early this season?

“Look, I think he had a good game. I think it was a big part of our win. There were a number of things, but he had one of his better games this year obviously in seeing the production he had on the ball.”

The Washington defenders said you all quick snapped them on that long ball to Deonte Harris. Is that a pre-snap thing? Is that something Jameis (Winston) sees and how does that play out?

“No, we go into the third down meetings, and look, we’ll have a few plays maybe where we’ll will run a second down play and then go back on the ball. And then we’ll have a few plays that we want to run with a super-fast cadence. And that was one of those super-fast like just, it’s sometimes beats crowd noise, Jeff (Duncan), and then other times, it’s hard to do. It’s hard to do that with receivers and wide splits. Sometimes it’s driven by the type of formation you’re in and so you’ll have a tag where everyone knows when you break the huddle, this thing’s going to be like, boom, it’s gone. It can catch a defense where the pressure comes late if their pressuring which they were on that play. Guys have to quickly get into their coverage. There’s no disguise. So when you’re playing on the road, you just sit up there in trips or doubles and you go through your cadence, you let the crowd cheer, you let the defense (get set). It’s a changeup to any and all of that.”

Alvin Kamara was explaining the Hail Mary last night and unless we misheard him, he said something like us, ‘if you ask Sean, he would explain that it was right on the sidewalk?’ Is that the term he used?
“Yeah. So if you took the numbers, you see the numbers painted on the field, and if you pretend the numbers just continued into the end zone, that is the sidewalk.  And there is a lot that goes into – obviously you need to have fortune to throw one up in the air and catch it. But it is not random – go down there, just get open you know. And so there are a series of things that have to take place. If they press the point receiver, which they did on that play, then we switch the release. Those three travel knowing that the ball is going to land in a perfect world on the sidewalk in the end zone. So that would be the numbers if you look at the tape is if they continued into the end zone the split end receiver, Marquez (Callaway) is going to join the group. There are four locations and the most important part of a hail mary’s when the eyes begin to turn back and locate the football, and that generally happens between the ten and eight-yard line. The mistake sometimes is the receivers are on the five and they begin to look – it is too late. You have to be tracking this ball and have a landmark, and so what I think what Alvin was referencing, the landmark of the sidewalk into the end zone, that would be the coaching point.”

How many of those have you connected on in your career?
“Here, two? We had an OPI on one (with Jimmy Graham). Terrence Copper caught one like I said, halftime before we went in in Atlanta. You lose track. When you get one though it’s rewarding because you’re always practicing it and you’re talking about the attention to detail. And the most important thing are just the landmarks, and then the quarterback being able to – there’s generally a second or third hitch, or escape, or a flush so that the receivers can get further down the field and then the ball thrown. Jameis (Winston) was able to do that. There was a climb, and then an escape from the pocket, and then once that happens, you know that there’s going to be a better chance from a timing standpoint. So he was outstanding and then the landmarks were good and if you watch Marquez, he’s tracking it, probably his eyes turn at the 11-yard line I’m going to say because he’s coming from a little bit further away.”

Marquez has been so interesting this year, he probably hasn’t had the volume of receptions that maybe we anticipated, but the adjustments he’s made on some of the catches, even dating back to the preseason I mean is that a real special talent he has?
“Yes. It’s a strength of his to high-point balls and turn and yeah, I think he has strong hands in traffic. I think that’s accurate.”

When you’ve got about a half a dozen or more starters or prominent players who were injured, what would you say you’ve learned over the course of your career that a coach has to do the various things to give yourself the best chance to succeed in spite of all that kind of missing prominent personnel?
“I think the first thing is attitude. I just I hate being around you know this idea of well we’re you know, with the excuse already built in. I think that can be extremely contagious in a negative way. And then obviously your job is to prepare and teach, and then your job then is to look at who you have, and then and try to put them in the best positions to be successful. I mean I just think that that’s what we’re paid to do. And in this league there’s no utopia there’s no (situation where) everyone is healthy this week. It is just ever-changing and you hope your number is at the right time are reduced rather than increased. But I think it’s important each week, and we talk about it sometimes it seems like a cliché, but man they’re all of these guys, the guys that are on the active roster, the guys may be on a practice squad, they’re going to play. They have to be ready to play and if they’re not progressing where you don’t have a vision, then you need to turn that part of the roster and keep looking for guys that you feel like can help you if the time comes.”

New Orleans Saints Linebacker Demario Davis
Virtual Media Availability
Monday, October 11, 2021

I know you guys have been missing Kwon Alexander in that lineup, but can you talk about the job that Pete Werner’s done in his absence?

“I think Pete’s done a tremendous job for us. He’s shown that he’s smart, he’s very instinctual, downhill and physical in the run game, he can guard out in space, can make open field tackles, a high motor guy. He’s everything that you want as a linebacker and he’s showing it in his first year on the field and to play in an exceptional way. It bodes well for him and it means a lot for our defense, for him to come in and play at that level.

Given the type of leader that you are on the team, do you take a young guy under your win a little bit? How do you do that?

“I’m the most experienced guy in the room. I have that responsibility in general with all the guys. I think he is unique in his ability to not shy away from big moments. A lot of times with young guys, the game can get too big and you can forget details and that’s what sets him apart for him to be a rookie, it’s like he’s made big moments, he’s all the way down in his assignment and he’s always going to get better. That’s a quality that you can’t teach. There’s nothing that I can do to give that. He has it from the time that he shows up. I think the wisdom I can offer him is things I’ve learned in ten years in this league on things you’re going to see week in and week out, kind of know what you have to be prepared for, things of that nature, whereas he can’t get that except with time and play the game. I think that’s the area where I can offer a little wisdom to him. He’s doing a phenomenal job and that’s a credit to him.”

Five games are a small sample size, but how would you assess the team in its entirety where they have been this season, given you guys have had some good wins and difficult losses and some swings. How would you assess overall how this team’s been?

“Every team is different. Every year you are not going to be the same team, every team is different and you have to formulate that identity. That’s what I think we’re doing, coming into our identity. I think we know what our strengths are, the areas where we know we need to improve and as you formulate that identity, you tend to do it and become a lot more consistent and dependable in the areas that you are kind of formulating it around. I think that’s kind of what we are as a team, where that gel is starting to turn into cement and I think we’re in a good place in all phases of the game, especially defensively. The thing that we’ve always tipped our hat on is our ability to stop the run and if you can make teams one-dimensional in this league, you’re going to be alright, There are a lot of things to clean up even in the run game, but I think we’ve built a solid foundation and we want to keep building and that’s the thing that you are able to do once you have a solid identity and a good foundation to build on. That’s what you need so you are constantly ascending as the season goes on and we know October is a very important month in football, because you want to be set up for success when it comes to November and December to be playing meaningful games and setting yourself up for where it matters most in the playoffs”

Yesterday Blake Gillikin got a game ball to recognize the outstanding work in the words of Sean Payton. How important is it for you as a defense when Blake is pinning opposing offenses within the three yard line?

“That’s a great question. I think when you play the game on the other team’s side of the field, the game heavily weighs in your favor. For him to punt the ball (there) we certainly get excited because their percentages of scoring goes down tremendously when they’re inside their ten-yard line let alone their five-yard line and so at that point, special teams has done their job, it’s now the defense’s job to keep it on that side of the field to make them punt and give our offense the ball back in a favorable field position where our percentages of scoring goes up and that’s where you get complementary football from and that’s what the good teams are able to do, play good complementary football and so certainly we were excited when he continues to pin them with their back against the wall and then our job was to get the ball back to the offense and then they capitalized themselves. He did an extremely great job. He is to be commended for that. It certainly was a game-changer for us. Coach Payton challenged us to play the game on their side of the field and in those situations we were successful. Defensively I think DA (Dennis Allen) had a good gameplan for what we were doing in those backed up situations. Their play call sheet shrunk tremendously, so we kind of knew what we were getting to play great defense and put the offense in good positions. That was definitely a game-changer in the game.”

How has your process for studying film, preparing for upcoming opponents changed and evolved?

“Yeah, I’ve always harped on the fact that I feel like I got trained by one of the greatest film watchers in the game and that’s Ed Reed. And I think I was always an avid film studier, but he just allowed me to help me to become more efficient at it. And I think from that foundation that he taught me I’m able to kind of put my own spin on it and you know, it goes from just seeing the plays that they run and the formations and their tendencies in certain situations to understanding the offensive coordinator and what he’s looking for when he likes to go to his matchups, when he gets in certain field positions, what he feels comfortable calling and it’s really about understanding the identity of the offenses. It’s not just the plays that they call, but what type of team are they, right? Are they run or play action team? Are they line up and gun and play action pass and quick game you down the field, you know, what is their identity? I think I’m able to look at that big picture and make it make sense for every play call that they’re going to be calling. When I see a certain formation you just line it up without information that you know about who they are as their identity, this offensive coordinator and what he likes to call and also the people that they have, whether it’s certain guys that are going to be playing that week or not. So you kind of have this whole catalog of information and based on a play call you can literally kind of pinpoint. That’s another thing is I try to study so much in a week that I don’t have to think about it again, because it becomes second nature.”

What’s the difference between being efficient and inefficient where you’re watching film?

“Yeah, Coach Payton says that a lot, he talks to the young guys and says, a lot of young guys need to learn how to watch film, so it’s not about the amount of film you study. How do people classify how much film you watch, right? How many hours of film (do) you watch? And you can watch an hour of film and so you can just be watching games or you can just be watching cut ups. And you can kind of have a general understanding of what they like to do, what their favorite play calls are. But it’s so much more to see if you were to really break down that hour and to focus in on specific things and that’s how you become proficient.”

What are your plans for the bye week?

“I’ll be spending a lot of time with my family. I just had a little one so, getting a lot of time with her, get some skin to skin bonding time. My kids are excited, because we have a little one (and) also my little one can’t leave the house just yet so we’ll be staying local. My kids excited to go to (Children’s) museum and all my kids are home schooled. So it’s kind of their week to do field trips with daddy. So we’ll go to the Children’s Museum probably go to the aquarium. My kids love Barnes and Nobles, probably (go to the) movie theaters and some different stuff like that, just hanging out with them and then I have to go to Arkansas State at the end of the week to get an award (Hall of Honor) and so that’s kind of what my week will look like.”

How important is it to get that time to reset during the bye week?

“In any arena you need that restoration or that reset in the season that can be doing like this or even have had some really high, highs and every team is different. So some teams are really high right now, some teams are really low, some kind of up and down. No matter what’s going on it’s always good to kind of get back to what I would call your baseline and then from there you just kind of, start building it back up again. I think it rejuvenates your energy, it rejuvenates your mind and it rejuvenates your body and when all those things are clicking that’s when you are able to be your optimal self and so I am really big into that, finding ways to reset, I even do that during the week even if it’s not a bye week. Monday and Tuesday I try to come down off the game and reset so that I can build it back up for the next game and so having an entire week to do that’s very important.”

Does the bye come at a good time for this team?

“It is something that is outside your control, so you just have to take it wherever it is and make the most of it. I think there are certainly some positives about the bye happening when it’s happening. It gives another week for a lot of our guys to get healthy. We got some very big pieces supposed to be coming back after the bye and so certainly excited about that. It makes our team better and when we come back we just got to pick back up and get rolling and get ready for a very good Seattle team.”

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