Q&A: Offensive Coordinator Sean Payton
by BBI Reporter walterb
walterb: Are you going to try to build and mold more of a personality with your offense or are you going to be more diverse and rely on the situation and a selection of plays based down and situation ?
Sean Payton: Well always I think you start with your own personnel and you say lets make sure the playmakers are on the field – regardless of down or distance. Some schools of thought suggest that we need to get all of our receivers on the field on third down. But to take a player like Shockey out or third down would be ludicrous. So, we’ll build our offense around our talent. It’s an ongoing change and things are constantly changing because you want to keep up with what defenses are doing. Certainly we have a threat inside in Jeremy – and we feel like the receiver play has improved this year, so what we do down and distance wise opponent wise will be with our personnel and from there it is scheme versus defense.
walterb: Do you expect your wide receiver to be covered differently this year?
Sean Payton: Well I think the coverage might change because of a threat inside. So the coverage they see outside may change – by and large what defenses play are not going to drastically change in this league. The receivers are going to get plowed or they are going to get off coverage, or bump-and-run technique, and that’s not going to change 20 years from now. How much you get out of one or the other may change.
walterb: How do you envision using Tiki and Dayne in the backfield at the same time?
Sean Payton: Well a lot of people have asked about those two in the backfield and the key is what type of plays you are trying to run and what you are trying to get accomplished, besides having them both in the backfield. Like whose the lead blocker? And we’ll be specific about when they are in there together and when they are not – and make sure we look at their touches when they are on the field.
walterb: Will someone like Dan Campbell allow you to help one less fullback on the roster?
Sean Payton: Possibly. Dan is certainly one who is capable of being a lead back for us. And he did play some fullback or H-Back for us the other night. He is physical at the point of attack. He has had a very good camp – and as we get into this thing he will be someone who is on the field with two tight ends.
walterb: How much impact does coach Fassel have on game day play calling?
Sean Payton: He lets me call them. He has been great ever since he gave me this job two years ago. He has been a play caller before, and he’s been 100% supportive of me just calling the plays. And certainly he’ll see things at times just like any of the offensive coaches and he’ll bring up things. But when it comes to calling them, I think one guy does it and goes with it, and I’ve been fortunate to have someone like him as a head coach.
walterb: Are there special situations where he might step in – like a 3rd-and-1?
Sean Payton: Rarely, I think where he helps me tremendously is game management, clock management, and the end of the half and the end of the game.
walterb: How will Shockey and Bennett influence the red zone play this year?
Sean Payton: Shockey will affect it immensely. You know he is an inside threat versus all the red cover four you get. Bennett you know, there is still some sorting out to do as to where he fits into the backfield, or out in space. We utilize him according to his strengths and he is another receiver who can run. So we are anxious to see how we finish this training camp with him.
walterb: Do you make most of your adjustments during series, or the half?
Sean Payton: Well I think you make them between series and at halftime and during series in the second half. You are constantly looking at pictures because you get photos of plays that are run. So, it is important that you are staying up to speed with what you are seeing defensively. And if there are any changes, you can adjust and make them quickly.
walterb: Can we expect to see Dayne on the field more this year than last year?
Sean Payton: Well I think you’re speculating right now – I think a lot of that will be dependant on the situation. You need to find the magic formula between Tiki and Ron Dayne You could be taking out a ball carrier like Tiki Barber who is second in the NFL in yards per carry last year, so we need to be careful that you have the right mix there between those two guys.
walterb: Which offensive coordinator in the league do you look up to?
Sean Payton: Well I think one of the best play callers certainly is a guy I worked with in Philadelphia – John Gruden who is at Tampa Bay. He coordinates their offense and does a real great job. There are a lot of very good coaches. Moore from Indianapolis has done a great job for a long time in this league. Each one has their own style, but I think what they have in common is they build their packages around their strengths on personnel.
walterb: What is the thinking behind roll out plays with Kerry Collins? Is that designed? Or is it an option?
Sean Payton: There is never an option. Sometimes what appears to be a roll out is really a scramble. Designed sprint or roll plays are designed to get him outside the pocket to beat dog and pressure – and to give him the extra time to get the ball in space. We have actually had some success the past two years, if you were to grade the efficiency of those plays. They have been pretty solid for us – especially in the longer situations where it’s third and long and we are going to get a lot of pressure – Philadelphia comes to mind – in the last two years if you put up a cut up of one of those plays- it is something we evaluated and looked at. You just have to pick and choose your times to call them.
walterb: Previously there was a tendency with the offense to run a hurry up type play by spending less time in the huddle and getting to the line quickly. Has that changed?
Sean Payton: We have always taken the approach that we are going to get to the line of scrimmage with tempo and movement and shifts and get our plays run. And we are not going to meander out and kill the clock. We want to be up-tempo with our shifts and motion and that won’t change at all.
walterb: Please comment on the play of the offensive line during the Houston game.
Sean Payton: It was encouraging. Certainly for a group that has played a lot of positions. I think we were physical and there are some things we can correct. I think we were pleased with the ways the ones played – and the second and the third guys competed and played hard.
Sean Payton on OG Tam Hopkins: He was someone who was solid in there – he was impressive. He is a big body, solid, and he was thrown in there because of some inquiries We were pleased with his performance. He was solid in protection, solid in his run game. And don’t know if you can say he excelled at anything but at that position just being solid and stout with protection is playing a good game for an offensive guard. For a first time starter he was impressive and that was encouraging. Just to see him in there at that position and grading out will and being efficient and against a 3-4 defense…those are encouraging signs.