NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Saints coach Sean Payton has a 7-5 postseason record as head coach, including a SB XLIV victory. On Wednesday, Payton answered media questions during his weekly conference call. Below is a transcript of the call.
Q. Doug Pederson at the Super Bowl was famous for giving the Patriots new looks in the Super Bowl. Is that something you expect this week having played the Eagles earlier this season in November?
SP: “I think that’s something you grow to expect week-to-week. Obviously with the Super Bowl and a two-week preparation, there’s more time. Hopefully we’ll be able to present the same thing. I think that’s pretty common. With the film, you’re always looking at their self-scout, you’re always paying attention to what they’re seeing and they have every game constantly updated each week. That’s part of the challenge each week of game planning. I think that’s pretty normal.”
Q. Drew Brees’ performances in home playoff games is off the charts. In what way do you see him elevate his performance at this time of the year?
SP: “I think one of the great traits that he’s always had is rising to the occasion. He’s extremely competitive. He’s someone that knows how to win and I think that playoff games at home are one indicator, but there have been plenty of situations with playoff games on the road or big home games that aren’t playoff games, where he’s played at such a high level. Fortunately, it’s a playoff game and it’s a home one. So, I think that’s part of the things that make him special.”
Q. What is it in your opinion that makes the Mercedes-Benz Superdome such a tough place to play. Is it the crowd or is your roster tailored for the facility’s surface?
SP: “It’s a tough place to play when you have a good team. But if you went back and looked at the records in the Dome prior to ’06, 3-5, 3-5, 4-4, 3-5, 3-5 with the playoff win. Not too long ago here it wasn’t too tough a place to play when we were struggling. I think part of that is what kind of team you’re fielding and when you get the combinations of a good team and then the crowd noise and then you have something. I think a lot has to do with the talent level of your football team.”
Q. When you took the job did you think that the venue could be a great home field advantage?
SP: “As a venue, yes. Yet, prior opponents didn’t look at it as a tough place to play. I think that’s changed because it starts with getting your team better.”
Q. Since you have entered the league, how has the fullback position evolved and what traits do you look for from the position to fit your offensive scheme?
SP: “I don’t know if evolved is the right word. I think some would say it’s going away and yet I think there’s still a number of offenses valuing that position, depending on what you’re wanting to do system-wise. I think there’s a toughness element in being able to block in the run game and in protection. Number two, I think that player and I’m talking about the substituted goal line fullback, but I think that player generally has good hands. At least we’re looking for those traits and in Zach’s (Line) case, we have a former running back…And I didn’t realize it, but I believe he’s (ranked) second at SMU all-time just behind Eric Dickerson as a rusher, so we feel like he’s someone that can help in a number of areas and also in the kicking game and I think that’s a starting point.”
Q. What do you think in terms of preparations for the all-star officiating crews, which are different than regular season? I know you guys typically like to scout the crews each week?
SP: “We’ll profile the referee, but there is obviously a side note/asterisk to that because the crews are different. It’s hard to go chart each official’s calls during the year, the back judge, side judge, that type of thing. But it would start with the head referee.”
Q. What has made your team so successful in goal-to-go situations, where you are leading the league in efficiency?
SP: “I think that the ability to run or pass is important there. We’ve had some success running the football. We have some variations with how we do it and yet I know it was a big point of emphasis in the off-season. I think situationally these playoff games (are where they) get decided. I think how you do on third down defensively and offensively, how you do in the red area, are you settling for field goals or holding the opponents to field goals. I think those areas specifically will be important in this game.”
Q. How important is it controlling Zach Ertz again after you help him to his least productive game of the season?
SP: “I don’t know that you ever stop him. He’s an extremely talented player. He has great hips, he has great route savvy. He can catch it in awkward positions. There’s a real good feel that exists between he and Nick (Foles). So, you try to slow him down, via the pass rush and coverage, probably a combination of both.”
Q. Has their offense changed with the two-tight end sets they’ve been doing the last four or five weeks?
SP: “There’s a system in place. There’s some things that are different when he’s (Foles) playing, but systematically I would say it’s still the same. They’ve used multiple tight ends prior. It’s just a matter of how they plan that week and how they feature their personnel.”
Q. Is Philadelphia’s success with their weapons, more in terms of how diversely they use them and can you explain?
Sp: “In each team, there are traditionally spots that you start with where guys play and you get a ton of variation. The tight ends move. There’s multiple ones. Where you are going to see (Alshon) Jeffery. (Golden) Tate will play inside, but he doesn’t always play inside. You have (Nelson) Agholor. You have (Jordan) Matthews. You have a number of guys with experience that are savvy players that understand the system. So, when you watch them on tape, you chart where you see them initially…(For example) here’s a play where someone’s lining up at the X and not Alshon…It’s probably similar for us. You’re trying to move guys in different positions sometimes based on the play, but they do a good job with that.”
Q. You have mentioned your respect for the defensive front and Jim Schwartz. Can you talk about how your offensive line handled them the first time and how much of a challenge they will be?
SP: “Obviously it’s a different game. It seems like a year ago. It’s a playoff game. There’s some faces that are different, healthy, unhealthy and this is a front that is a tremendous challenge when you look at the personnel. They’ve been a very productive pressure front. I’m not talking pressure relative to dog or blitz, (but) they can hurry the quarterback, they can get him off his spot. They’ve been a real stingy defense against the run. I think they’re seventh or eighth best in the league against the run. Situationally they are playing very well in the red zone and on third downs. So, I think they present a lot of challenges.”
Q. Is there a lot to take from the first game or do you erase it?
SP: “It’s part of the process. It’s part of the process and yet no different than us looking at their Rams game or their Bears game. It’s part of it.”
Information provided by the New Orleans Saints Media Relations.