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21 December 2016

Transcript: New Orleans Saints Conference Calls with Tampa Bay Media (12/21/16)

(On how in the league, teams can be completely different from week to week based off of injuries)
“Listen, I’d like to think when you have more of your starters back, it helps and yet, there were a handful of things that we didn’t do well in that first game and credit Tampa. Whether it was our third down numbers – I felt like I struggled in trying to get us going in a rhythm. I thought defensively we did some real good things, particularly in the second half. But, offensively as a whole, just the turnovers and the third down and red zone efficiency was certainly things that stood out.”
(On how much of the game plan is fresh compared to what the plan was two weeks ago)
“I think it’s a good question and I’ll give you an example. There’s a part of it I think because of the short week for both teams with a game on Saturday and a division game that helps for both teams in regards to personnel and knowing the team. With that being said, you as a coach, you get so invested in a game plan like we just came off of Arizona and then we begin the process again with Tampa. It feels like that game was a month ago and you can say, ‘Well, let’s just look at the last two games and the cut-ups because we’ve already seen the prior stack.” I think we find ourselves having to really start, I don’t want to stay from scratch, but as you prepare and you look at the team, you might see things you didn’t from the first time. So, I think that you really jump into a week and you jump into an opponent and clearly you’re able to pull up the game plan from the last time; plays, runs, passes and there’s certain things that maybe you didn’t call, you didn’t get to. We didn’t have a lot of offensive snaps. But, that you would say, ‘It was good two weeks ago. It should be good this week.’ Occasionally, it’s happened. I don’t view it as a positive or a negative. I think be it that it is a shorter week with Saturday’s games, I think it’s probably good for both teams.”
(On why he believes his team is so well-suited for playing indoors)
“When we’ve had real good teams here, they’ve traveled home and away. And then when we’ve had up and down teams, which has certainly been as of late, those challenges have traveled. In other words, we went on a stretch here for a couple years not losing a game in this building. Look, when we’ve had good teams, we’ve won on the road and won big games against opponents. So, typically in our division when you look at it, you circle if it’s a New Orleans team, you look at Atlanta and New Orleans and you know you’re going to have nine and then 10 and 11 are going to be at Carolina, at Tampa. So, from a climate standpoint, regionally, you’re usually playing in decent conditions. It might be raining down in Tampa or maybe cooler whether in Carolina relative to the other divisions in our league. But, ultimately, if you’re going to be a real good team and you expect to contend, you’re going to have to travel whether it’s inside or outside. I think it’s more about the season and the team you have because listen, the week prior to your game in Tampa, we played Detroit here inside and we didn’t play very well at all.”
(On the season rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas is having and his experience coaching his uncle Keyshawn Johnson)
“I had a chance to see his uncle during the playoffs last year, prior to the Draft out in Bristol and Keyshawn was with us later in his career in Dallas. Mike’s someone that, there were a couple receivers, every year in the Draft, there are certain positions that you might have a real good feel for. No different than any other year, whether it’s an offensive linemen, Mike was one of those receivers that we had targeted and we liked his size. There’s a compete element that’s real impressive and it’s so important to him to do well. It’s hard for us to have a walkthrough without – everyone will be in a walkthrough and Mike will be full speed, so when his route shows up on the other side of the field relative to everyone else who’s going maybe a quarter of the speed, it looks out of proportions because he’s full speed. It’s just real important to him. I think his size, I think he’s a gifted run after the catch guy too. He does a good job of leveraging the corners and making it hard to tackle.”
(On whether coaching changes across the league are distracting during this part of the season each year)
“No, look the latter, generally if you’re having a lot of success, I think as the head coach, I’ve said this before when Doug Marrone went on to coach at the Bills or Dennis Allen was at the Raiders. You enjoy seeing other guys that were in your program go on to have that opportunity. So, I don’t think when you’re having success, the idea of your assistants’ names coming up for other jobs. I think it becomes a little bit more challenging maybe later in the postseason if there’s an opening and there’s speculation, they’re waiting until after the Super Bowl. With regards to the other, there is turnover in our league yearly and it’s always difficult when it happens in the season. Particularly difficult when it happens right after a game, which happened to [former Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach] Gus [Bradley] this past weekend. It’s tough that way and you recognize as a head coach that each ownership group is different in how they conduct business and I’m fortunate to be with this group.”
(On what he believes he can learn from going up against the same defense twice within 13 days)
“A long story short, you just learn a lot, especially in particular to this game. Last game, we had a handful of penalties having as an offense some plays that I in particular didn’t come up with. So, you look at those things and you wish you could have them back and here’s the chance where you can get them back.”
(On what he believes the Buccaneers defense did to limit them offensively in Week 14)
“No, I would have to say we limited ourselves to be honest. They did some great things, but at the same time, when you’re backed up and in third-and-longs, it’s hard to keep the drive going, so we had a lot of penalties last game.”
(On the benefits of having wide receiver Michael Thomas back)
“It’s going to help a lot. Like you said, you free one another up and it opens up the field, so that will be good for us to have him back.”
(On running back Mark Ingram’s season)
“It’s crazy. When you have a good running game, where you have guys like [running back Tim] Hightower and Mark running the way they’re running this year, it helps out everything because the defense has to honor the run game and the pass game and when you have a balanced offense, that’s when you have a successful game.”
(On their success playing at home in New Orleans)
“It’s using home to our advantage. You know your fans will get behind you, but at the same time, it’s a sense of focus when you’re at home and playing inside that [Mercedes-Benz Superdome],it’s one of those feelings that you can’t explain. It just happens. It seems like when we get in that dome, special things happen and that’s what we want to continue to do.”
(On motivation playing Tampa and avoiding losing both games this season)
“We’re going to be very motivated, not just to avoid the sweep, but at the time, this is what we get paid to do. So, we’re going to go out there and give it our all no matter the situation and no matter what is going on. You play this game to win, no matter what, so we will be very motivated.”
(On what clicked so well for him last week versus Arizona)
“It was just one of those days. Everything seemed like it was going great with the whole offense, our run game, [quarterback] Drew [Brees] was on point, myself and everyone else around me, so everything clicked for the whole offense which helped for me to click as well.”
(On whether he thinks in terms of ‘playing spoiler’ when playing a team in their division)
“Of course. You’ve got to think like that sometimes. Whatever motivation that you can find, you’ve got to take it and use it, right?”
(On quarterback Drew Brees not being voted to the Pro Bowl)
“That’s just ridiculous. It’s just ridiculous. What are we looking at? What are we voting on? I just don’t get it. The guy is leading in so many categories, he’s having a great year. You look at that and it’s just like, okay, it’s ridiculous. The guy is great and he definitely deserves to be in there and for him not to be, the league, whoever just messed up because that just added fuel to his fire that he already had.”

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