New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton met with the media Wednesday morning as the team prepares to travel to Tampa to face the Buccaneers.
How much of a disappointment has it been not having Dannell Ellerbe available and can you go through the decision to have James Anderson out there?
“Yeah let me start with the last question. We felt like James (Anderson) last week had a pretty good week of work. He was able to handle snaps both in the base and sub and part of that was just production and wanting to see how he would handle it and I think he will receive some of the snaps and work this week. With Dannell (Ellerbe) of course you’re wanting him to be healthy. When he has been on the field it’s been a big difference for us defensively and yet he battled the toe and kind of the sports hernia. I’m optimistic this week and he will be able to get some work today I think and hopefully he can be out there and play this weekend because he is an explosive player.”
Is there much of a balance between big picture and immediate future?
“I don’t know today that we jumped outside of Tampa. The point is this is what we do for a living. This is what we put on film each week and you draw from the competitiveness from the guys who are wanting to do well. Who are wanting to improve and this gets back to why you get the right type of guys and you don’t like it, you loath it, but you’re able to get back to work on Wednesday and move onto the next game with the correct preparation and trying to improve and that has kind of been our focus.”
What has the addition of Kevin Williams meant for the team this year in terms of production and leadership?
“He has meant a lot. I feel fortunate as a head coach to get to know him. He is an amazing man. There is a steady calmness about him. He is extremely bright and I think he is well respected. I know he is amongst the defensive line. He is clearly the leader in that room and I think he is someone that not only has been a great player, but I think he is someone that players trust.”
Do you see him coming back next year?
“We will see about all of that. We have four games to play this year.”
How did Tyeler Davison do in his first start?
“We thought he played well. He is an active guy. It changed the game in him in that he was receiving more snaps in the base (defense) and less in the nickel, but I would say very well. He stays on his feet and that is a good sign. Sometimes that position is holding up in some of those doubles zone schemes, but I thought he was active and for this game it was much different than games he has been involved in the past where he might be on the nickel rush and not playing as much in the base.”
Am I right in saying that your first and second down runs have not been very productive this year? Is there a reason why it is hard to run in those situations?
“Typically, the runs are coming on first and second down. We are a third down passing league. Every week, we try to run the ball. With exception on third-and-two or third-and-three, typically, it’s a first and second down league, and then you get into short yardage. It is important for us to have that threat on third down, so it is not just 100 percent pass. Now, have we been as efficient or where we want to be running the football – I would say no. That is an area that has to be better. We’ve had moments but it just hasn’t been consistent enough.”
What kind of growth have you seen from Jameis Winston since you played him last?
“You are able to see it in a rookie player because, however many weeks have gone by since the last game, that is a lot time for a first-year quarterback. Those are lots of experiences, so the ball’s getting down the field real well. He is managing the offense real well. You see him avoiding and making plays out of the pocket. When we saw him in Week Two, we had one game of evidence and that was the tough loss they had to (the) Tennessee (Titans). When you start looking at the weeks that have followed, there is a bunch of tape on him and he is doing a lot of things better each week. I would say that (he’s gotten better at) getting the ball down the field. The other thing is that he is eliminating the bad plays. You don’t see the minus plays that you maybe saw in that Titans game. He’s a reason why they are winning.”
What kind of role has Doug Martin played, in terms of helping Jameis along as well in both the running and passing game?
“I think that (that) it all goes hand in hand. Doug and the offensive line, they are one of the better rushing teams in the NFL right now. Statistically, the numbers that they’ve been putting together have been pretty impressive. He’s a physical runner. He has very good vision. I would say that the down and distances that they are operating from – it has all fit. The time of possession, what the quarterback is asked to do, all of it makes sense. Their third down percentage is at 42 percent, offensively, with a first-year quarterback. That is eighth in the NFL and that is a pretty strong number. That number is partly reflected by the yards per game he’s averaging. Every week, it seems that you’re watching SportsCenter and you see a Doug Martin run.”
What have you seen out of Andrus Peat the last two weeks? Is the long term view for him still at tackle?
“I would say that the vision is still, like when we drafted him, to be that. I would say that he played well last week or that he has gotten better. There is a play or two that you look at that you really want to correct. The thing that is encouraging is that he is improving. If he makes a mistake, he isn’t making it a second time. The long term vision, again, the way we drafted him and how we see it, but that can change.”