The following is a transcript of Saints head coach Sean Payton's meeting with the media Friday.
How would you evaluate the week in preparation?
“It’s been good. There's been two weeks really, the first week, last week with our schedule what we did and then obviously this week’s been all opponent driven. Guys are doing well.”
How is it seeing Malcolm Jenkins on this stage?
“He’s a special player to me. Had a big part of what we accomplished his rookie year, he's smart, he's definitely a guy that you see on tape and you see his leadership and it jumps off the film and he's just a real good football player and a guy that really in hindsight, we shouldn't have let out of the building. But he and Darren (Sproles)both are doing well.”
The last game you didn’t let up on the gas pedal…
“No that's not true. Listen if you pay attention to the film and you watch the film, it was one of those games where you're playing a real good offense and late in the game we scored a touchdown, but we were 30 something at that point. But we played well.”
Do you realize they are going to use the game from earlier this year as motivation?
“It’s a divisional playoff game. My question would be, we're all playing hard in these divisional playoff games right. Are you going to play harder? All right. Next good question.”
There’s new pictures in the locker room. Why did you change some things?
“What's in there is our team’s business not yours.”
Coach how much has their secondary improved on tape than earlier this year?
“It has. I think they've been real consistent. Number one, they’ve minimized the big plays and they have gone up against some pretty good offenses. There is this period of the season where you can see on film this consistent lineup. I think prior to that there had been a lot of moving parts and I think Jim (Schwartz) has done a good job of getting that group settled in and you can see the communication when they are in their dime package. Certainly, Malcolm (Jenkins) is inside in their nickel (package). There are several packages (where) you see three-safety look last week to Chicago. We have to prepare for all of it. But I think they're playing a lot better.”
Does it help to play a team you’ve already played this season?
“I think it feels a little bit like when, oftentimes in the playoffs it's not unusual to play a division opponent. It happened to us last year relative to Carolina the first game we'd already played them twice and then Minnesota the next game we'd already played them early in the year. I think it happens more often than you think. Now that game seems like it was a long time ago, relative to the season so that film is important, but all the games (are important) we've got all 16 weeks and the playoff (game). You have all that on your video screen, cut ups and everything in (between). But having played them, certainly for both teams, I'm sure there's a familiarity with personnel that I think is probably most important.”
Did they play more man than you expected last game?
“Yes they did and over the years I've always followed Jim (Schwartz) and respected the job he does on defense. He's been a great coach in our league and I just remember the last game going back and looking at every tape trying to find cases where maybe a top receiver was getting help and getting doubled. There have been some examples and yet in our game it was a ton of man and a ton of double on Mike (Thomas) and that really forced other players to have to (step up) (Keith) Kirkwood or Tre’Quan (Smith) or Dan Arnold. Other guys had to make plays. There are times where they were doubling Alvin (Kamara) and doubling and Mike (Thomas) literally and everyone else had kind of a cover zero look. It forced us to make some adjustments quickly, but that's the fun thing about the games because there's always some things that maybe we're preparing for here that we're not going to see Sunday and then quickly you have to adjust.”
Is that a drastic change in how you call the game?
“It's not a drastic change, relative to how you call the game, but it’s a drastic change relative to who might be within the progression of certain plays (and) What you want to do in the run game. It's challenging when if Alvin's a primary it just forces these other guys in the route to have an opportunity to make some plays and fortunately last time we played them we did.”
What's your impression of Doug Pederson the play-caller?
“He came to Philadelphia when I left there. I was on Ray Rhodes staff in 97 and 98 and then went to the Giants and then Andy Reid got hired and Doug was playing and was a part of (Donovan) McNabb's development (as his backup). His wife is from here. I consider him a real good friend now in the last year and a half. We've had a chance to play some golf and I think what he’s done there has been fantastic. I grew up in Philadelphia and can remember all those Eagles teams and when you're the first to win a Super Bowl for a city like that, that's pretty special.”
Do you think being the underdog persona starts with the head coach for being responsible in building that underdog culture?
“I think it probably starts with being the underdog. All of the above probably. I can’t speak for the mechanics or chemistry of how their season unfolded. I do remember the injury last year and then all of a sudden they started playing well, Nick (Foles) was fantastic and obviously there's some similarities to the way they have been playing these stretch of games and all of them have been big games that they've had to win. But I know Doug does a great job and when you watch them as a team, the win they had last week on the road was impressive. I think we felt Chicago was one of the (most) dangerous teams in the tournament. We felt like, that's a tough team. With the way they play defense and the way they're improved on offense, that was a big win. That was a huge win for them. We have tried to this week, really our focus each week is more internal driven, with how we're preparing, than it is at external.”
Drew Brees turns 40 next week, do you still find yourself amazed at some of the things that Drew is still able to do at that age?
“I've said this before, I don't think you really see age until you see the children of your peers and then all of a sudden you realize wow and so when his kids come by the facility is when I feel like ahh and I'm sure he feels the same way when my children are here. When you're around someone that much. His preparation and all of that, he's had an outstanding season and I do not feel (like it’s) 40 for him. I think it has been really uneventful relative to seeing any (age). He is playing at such a high level. I'm glad he is our quarterback.
Is there anything that stands out from your first playoff game here against the Eagles in 2006?
“There are a few things. That was (when) Andy (Reid) was the head coach, the late Jim Johnson, who was a fantastic defensive coordinator in our league was part of that staff. That was our first year. We played them in the regular season and that was a hard-fought game. I do not remember a whole lot about the game itself. I remember Deuce (McAllister) had this run that lasted like 14 seconds. But that would be it.”
What do you see in Philadelphia’s screen game that impresses you and obviously a guy like Darren Sproles?
“He has real good awareness and I think Darren has got incredibly good instincts on setting up some of these screens and Philly does a great job of giving you five, six, seven different looks on screens. Quite honestly, we haven't been as good this year as we have in other years in that area, but a lot of it depends on the opponent you’re playing. But I think it’s part of what they do and they do a great job of kind of giving you a direction here and then coming back over there. Obviously, you need to have good eyes and really spend time on the formation, the depth of the back all those things that might give you some indicators. But Darren and even the tight end got involved last week. It's something they do well.”
How much does their gameplan from earlier this season offensively impact what your defense will do?
“We all have a system we run offensively and defensively and then there's certain things you do off of it and I think that obviously there's a different quarterback playing and yet they're still in a system that they believe in and so look that's part of the puzzle. But it's not a greater piece than the game they just played. There's some common opponents that help us more. It's harder for us sometimes if we're watching Philly's defense versus Tennessee maybe with a (running) quarterback that is going to pose different threats. There's some tapes that are more beneficial than others and I think that would be the case on the other side of the ball.”
Is it pretty amazing to see what Darren Sproles has done at his age?
“Yes, absolutely he's fun to watch. Darren looks exactly like he did when he was here and in San Diego. He practices at a certain level. He’s fun to watch.”
Why did you sit Alvin Kamara the final week of the season?
“It’s hard to do (sit a lot of players) that when you’re playing a game because you have 46 guys (that have to be active). For him it made sense. The first four weeks of the season he had more touches than maybe you'd like. Just relative to what he was averaging prior and we looked at each player individually and just made a decision that we thought was best for us and he's moving around well and doing well it wasn't injury related. It was probably more rest.”
Do you think last years’ experience in the playoffs for the younger guys will help for this year’s playoffs?
“I think so. Anytime you have experienced something, then you go back through it a second time, I think we're all better for whatever it is that we're doing. The big thing with that message is look we get in such a routine, relative to our work week and as the playoffs begin those can be a little bit more difficult to protect and there are a lot of different ways that you can be distracted and they've got a good week here and I think that playing at home there is a ton of benefits and yet this is one of those cities when someone says hey we'll come see a game and you're like I've been at other places where they say that and they don't come, but they come here and so everyone will have a lot of visitors.”