Here’s what Sean Payton had to say today after practice:
Three years ago when your team went to Seattle for a playoff game, an upset occurred. Was your team surprised throughout that game of how it played out?
“No. I don’t think so. When you get in the postseason and you’re playing a game, you’re playing a good football team. When you have to travel in the postseason – winning on the road to begin with is difficult and challenging in our league. That game kind of early on went one way and then all of the sudden turned around the momentum and we weren’t able to overcome that. But I don’t think so.”
Everybody besides Keenan Lewis has missed a start in the secondary. Can you talk about these guys’ ability to adapt and fill in?
“Part of the 16 game schedule we’re playing is that attrition (occurs). Fortunately we have some depth there. We’ve got some experience in some young players. Losing a player like Kenny (Vaccaro) and the corners we lost – Jabari (Greer) and Patrick (Robinson), those are obviously things that you’d rather not have happen. I think that the amount of time on task that some of these guys have had that are veterans and some of the younger guys that have come in have been able to play (is beneficial). You take a guy like Corey (White), who’s starting the season maybe in a role that would be nickel, and here for the last however many weeks has been now starting outside. I don’t think it’s unusual for teams, you just hope that it’s always kept at a minimum.”
How do you get guys like Corey White ready to go? Someone who admits that he knows teams are coming after him because of how well Keenan has played.
“There’s a combination of things. You’re always looking at matchups, then you’re looking at your own scheme. You’re looking to change up the looks so it’s just not constant.”
Whenever you see or hear about the Marshawn Lynch run in that wild card game three years ago, do you still kind of wince a little bit or admire how great of a run it was?
“Listen, it was a tremendous run. That’s what’s great about the playoffs. You have the chance to do things that can be remembered for a long time. Usually it is accompanied with a win. I think that shoot, you watch it, you admire it and you look closely at wanted to make sure you prevent that from happening again.”
Do you change your game plan with rain and wind or are they not a factor?
“No, I think you pay attention to that very closely. They are calling for 100% chance of rain so that can mean a lot of different things, but the wind means a little bit more. I think you pay close attention to that. How long can you make the quarter last when you are with the wind. How quick can you make a quarter go by when you are against it? Paying attention to the clock with regards to your last punt or their last punt, it is all field position related. Those are just a few of the things, but if it gets north of 15 miles an hour then it impacts what’s going on in two quarters, your return game, special teams are significant. Chances are there are two quarters with the kickers that both teams have where there’s a good chance of a touchback, not necessarily a guarantee. Then the other two quarters your coverage units get stressed more because the ball is not going as deep and same thing for a punt.”
Would you consider if you had the wind and you are near the end of the quarter, would that be a place where you would take a timeout so you would punt with the wind?
“We did it I believe in Carolina, maybe Philadelphia, it runs together, but recently we did that to force them to punt into the wind. So it was the opposite scenario. Yes.”
How difficult is it to defend Russell Wilson in contrast to Cam Newton?
“Look, the similarities are they are outstanding quarterbacks. Yet the offenses are a little different. The challenge of defending someone (Wilson) who’s won as many games as he has statistically in his first two years of playing quarterback he has won more football games than anyone in this era since the Super Bowl began. He is doing a lot of things well. He is a great decision maker. He is a great leader. He is accurate and then he can escape and extend plays and hurt you from both the pocket and outside the pocket. They present a lot of challenges. You are studying closely formations. You are studying the offensive sets and you are looking closely at how do you keep changing the looks up so it is not one constant thing he gets a beat on. He’s done a fantastic job.”
Can you talk about what David Hawthorne has brought to this team?
“He’s healthy this season. Last year he battled some injuries. It is great to have him back healthy and he’s having a good season. He runs well. He has good instincts and tackles well, and has been a plus for us with him being back in the lineup and being healthy. That has been important to this defense.”
How gratifying or impressive was it for the offensive line to give the performance they gave after battling some inconsistencies?
“I think that no different than Mark Ingram, the offensive line, the guys that get the most fired up about a game where you have those rushing numbers are the running backs, the lineman, and your strength coach. Those guys get excited. The key is to win. Each week that might vary on how you do that, hopefully as coaches you want to make sure you have the best game plan in. You want to pay attention to handling the noise and with regards to communication plays. All of those things factor in, but I think whenever you can win a game and win it in the four minute and close out a game rushing the football the way we were able to, there’s a lot that kind of permeates through your team, not just the linemen and the running backs. That carries over to your defense, etc.”