Sean Payton comments on team's progress halfway through season, - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Sean Payton comments on team's progress halfway through season, preparing to face Tennessee

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Three days after picking up a thrilling win over the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton commented, during a Wednesday conference call, about the way his team has battled through adversity to pick up victories this season. On Sunday, the black and gold will be aiming for a third-consecutive victory, Payton talked about matching up against the 1-6 Tennessee Titans, who will be playing under new interim Coach Mike Mularkey. 

Below is a transcript of the conference call with the media, provided by the New Orleans Saints:

What are some of the things you have seen that lead you to believe that this year’s 4-4 team will be different than last year’s?

“Well I think the question was comparing the 4-4 mark a year ago, then I referenced ‘07. They are different teams from a year ago. I think we say this all the time, it is the preparation for this week. It is not like we went back, or go back, and look up back in 2007 when this happened. This is a different group in this locker room, different offense, (and) different defense, and I think the key is understanding in a two day period the opponent you’re playing and trying to digest that and understand how we’re going to apply a gameplan, I think getting ourselves mentally and physically ready to play, there is still that edge that you have to be able to play this game with. It’s an emotional, mental mindset and it’s something that we have been better at of late.”

Have you had a team change coaches before a game you played against them and how does it affect preparation?

“Yes, it has happened. There have been a handful of examples and all of a sudden you have a new head coach and maybe he is on the offensive or defensive side of the ball and you know what there will be some wrinkles. There will be some things we have not seen. Just like there are every week, only it comes from Mike’s (Mularkey) offensive background. I’m sure there will be some things that he wants to do (differently) offensively. That would be fairly normal.”

Is there some value in the team going through adversity with these close wins?

“Yes. Now with regards to close games and then finishing and getting a win, it took a stretch here and all of a sudden we get the win in overtime versus Dallas. Then we get another W after a tough loss in Philly and then another and another, fighting back and being in different types of games. I think that you can’t just throw the ball out there and say we know how to win. It’s something that’s ongoing and there are a lot of things on the tape from last week that obviously need to be cleaned up.”

To waive Austin Johnson, is that because of how Michael Hoomanawanui played or is that a situation that you would sign another fullback at a later date?

“Yes, a lot of it will depend on our roster in the next two weeks. Austin was someone we were very familiar with and he has been great for us. He is a great teammate, a guy that prepares extremely hard, and yet we have some flexibility now with the tight ends, and yet we are adding a few key pieces that we think can help us, and not necessarily just because of injury, and so I think it gives us a little bit more special teams depth as well.”

Did you even expect this much diversity from Benjamin Watson in the passing game this season?

“I think that number one, when you are playing quarterback and you have someone who’s very reliable in what they are going to do and also someone who has very good football instincts, there is a lot to be said for that. We have seen tight ends play well into their thirties because they understand leverage and they are smart and have great hands and have real good change of direction, and Ben is one of those players who is smart and has very good football instincts and I think there is that rapport, or that trust, that Drew has when he’s locating him in the progression or potentially throwing the ball to him off a flush pocket.”

Is he a guy that, at that age of 34, is a physical specimen and is always ready to play and practice?

“He takes great care of himself. Obviously, he is someone who has got all of these things that you are looking for, from a leadership standpoint and his makeup. We were fortunate to sign him a few years back. He was one that really wasn’t a free agent visit. He was a phone call. He was down in the Bahamas and I was on the other line, and tried to make sure that he talked to various other players that he knew and could at least give him some feedback on our program. He has been a great addition and it has been exciting to watch, just (how) his role (has) changed with each team (and) with each season. It has been exciting to see his production, both in the running game and passing game.”

How come (Benjamin) Watson doesn’t get these veteran days off? Does he refuse them or does he have too much work to do as a blocker or receiver? 

“He’s in too good of shape. We’re careful (with that). What we do in the gameplan is (tight ends coach) Dan (Roushar) will be real sharp with monitoring the reps. Sometimes it’s easier to do than others. With that position, it is a little bit more challenging.”

How does a guy like Mike McGlynn, a veteran that doesn’t play much, help a team in ways that maybe fans can’t see?

“You just have to be around (him). If we had a 20-minute mic’d up portion of practice, it would be very clear how he helps us. His personality is fantastic. He keeps guys comfortable and laughing. He is smart. He is extremely smart. Teams are made up of different individuals and different characters (who are) from everywhere. His experience, toughness and intelligence, along with his personality, (make him) a great add to our locker room.”

How much do these veterans, just in general, add to the team? Is there experience invaluable, from the starters to the backups?

“It is a combination; obviously, you’re gaining experience, and then you’re getting a personality fit and the type of player that you’re referencing. There is value that is brought to the team. I think the combination of the veteran players and some of the younger players works well. I think it is working well with this group downstairs (in the locker room) right now.”

(Marcus) Mariota and (Zach) Mettenberger are pretty different; what are the challenges of trying to prepare for both?

“We have to know the strengths and weakness (of both) and we have to have a plan in place that can handle one or the other. We are going to prepare for both of them and be prepared for either one of them. There are some differences (and) we just finished covering that in the team meeting. We will cover those and make sure we understand those.”

With the Titans pass defense being ranked third in the league, what have they been able to do well?

“The thing you see is they complement the back end with the front end. They do a good job of applying pressure. When you watch the tape, you see it. There’s a lot of five-man rush (and) a lot of hands in the quarterback’s face. They do a good job of playing man-to-man (coverage). They have real good size and speed outside so the corners will come up and press you and contest you. The safety play is very good, and when you combine that secondary with a formidable rush and a front that’s very active, it (makes it difficult for the quarterback). It’s very clear, when you watch them, why they’re ranked third in that statistic.”

What are some of the things that (Jairus) Byrd has done well since coming back?

“He understands, completely, our defense. His anticipation and break on the ball has been very good. He had one almost phenomenal play the other day. He’s got good football instincts and he has tackled well.”

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