Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Remarks: Injuries of note I’ll start out, Evan Engram won’t be out there today. He’ll be inside rehabbing. (Olivier Vernon) is coming along and Eli Apple is coming along. Those are the three that you may have questions about. Otherwise, we just have the normal after game wear and tear that you normally have. That was a physical game, and as you get back and get going again, it’s been a good couple of days. I told the team, I said it’s not quite as painful, but it’s just as important to go through the mistakes and correct them after a win as it is after a loss and I think they handled that pretty well. So we’re getting ready for what hopefully what will become our best Wednesday of the year. So, I’ll take your questions.
Q: What does ‘coming along’ mean for those Vernon and Apple?
A: They’re getting better. We’re hopeful. They should be out there on the field. Again, we’re hopeful that they’ll be back. High ankle sprain and then the groin, there’s not always a timeline on those.
Q: Individual drills for them?
A: They’ll be doing some stuff, yes. It’s hard to say right now.
Q: Eli Manning said after the game that he thought you guys condensed the offense. Is that accurate? What did he mean by that?
A: Yeah, what I tried to do was make sure we were running things that we were familiar with, and then by the way they played coverage, I was able to repeat some calls and that’s always a good thing. By the way it played out, we had just as much offense but by the way it got called, because we were able to complete some stuff. By the way the game got called, it probably seemed that way.
Q: When you go into a game like this against an explosive offense, do you think in any way that it’s going to be a shootout? Do you have to prepare for it that way?
A: No. We’ve got to play the game like we play it, and it’s important that we get big plays, but it’s also important that we move the ball and score. I think that’s the most important piece, is to score and continue to score however you do it. Sometimes it takes you a lot, sometimes you get a big play and you do it quickly. We’ll just have to see how that plays out. On defense, when you watched the way they played, they’re schemed up, they’re a five-on-the-line defense just like we are in base, and they like to play man coverage although they have played a healthy amount of zone in stretches this year. We’ve got to be ready to attack everything, and then just change gears if they’re giving us a little more of one thing than we expected.
Q: Do you see differences in the Saints between inside and outside, indoors and outdoors?
A: Some people have said that, they’re more explosive at home in the dome and all that. I don’t know. They’re pretty explosive on offense, Alvin Kamara is a tremendous player and they target him quite a bit. Drew Brees, #13 (Michael Thomas) is a good player as well, and they do a good job up front. They do enough to keep you off balance, and you’re dealing with a guy that’s Drew Brees, who is one of the best.
Q: Brees is obviously 39, your quarterback is 37, and they’re both playing at times like they did in their early 30s. Is there a reason why some quarterbacks can thrive so late in their careers?
A: They’re both outstanding players and I think I said it either Monday or yesterday, there’s no substitute for experience, especially when you’re well-performing guys like they are. They’re good players, and so it doesn’t surprise me. I think in this game at certain positions, as long as your legs and your arms stay good, you’ve got a chance to continue to play. I think that’s what you’re seeing from both Eli and Drew.
Q: Did you notice anything different for your offensive line, attitude wise? It seemed like there was a little more nastiness in some of those blocks on Sunday.
A: I mentioned this, the new guy in there – there’s two new guys, really, or one and a half new guys because (John Greco) played part of the Dallas game – but I thought Chad (Wheeler) did a good job of finishing blocks because it was fresh, watching him play. Then I thought the other guys, the enthusiasm that we showed, I told the players the guys that were here a year ago feel 3-13, the guys that were here just for the first time this year felt 0-2. So, when the game gets to one score, we’ve all been places where you wonder when the other shoe is going to fall. Well, that wasn’t the case. We dug in, and I thought the enthusiasm that the players played with helped fuel that, because throughout the game, I never had a sense that we were going to lose it.
Q: What have you seen out of Nate Solder? It looked like he might have had one of his better run blocking games on Sunday. Three weeks in, what do you think of him so far?
A: He is a steady performer. Good, great, good – he plays well and plays pretty steady all the time, whether it’s in practice or in games, and that’s the way he lives his life, that’s his mindset. He’s out there today trying to get better than he was yesterday. Very steady guy, and he’s really adding a lot to our team.
Q: When you signed Nate, you made a point to call (Ereck Flowers) and let him know how this was going to affect him. Did you have a similar conversation with Flowers after this most recent change?
A: Yes, we talked about it, we were making the change. Yes, we communicated. When I say I, it’s we as coaches communicate with the players frequently about things we see and like, and things we see and don’t like. That’s the day to day business that nobody sees, but we’re just open and honest about it. I think the players have responded well to that, but I do think that’s the way you’ve got to live your life.
Q: How did he handle it?
A: He handled it like most guys would.
Q: What does that mean?
A: ‘Ok, Coach.’ That was it. Not enough there for a mini-series, just ‘ok’. Then there’s the part of the conversation of, ‘you need to be ready to go because you’re the third tackle, so keep your mind into it and get back out there, and play well.’
Q: On the uptick of snaps to Rhett Ellison, can you talk about what he’s brought, especially with that reconfigured offensive line, what he brings to that?
A: I’m fond of Rhett, who he is as a player and as a person. He epitomizes a player that you want on your team. He’s very good at what he does, he can line up anywhere, he finds a way to make plays. Some guys just have a knack for that. He finds a way to make plays. Very trustworthy and very tough, and he’s wired like a football player, and that is what you’re looking for. I made the analogy, and this probably isn’t fair because I don’t know Mark Bavaro that well, but I sensed the same kind of aura when I met him the other night – just a tough guy that’s going to do what he’s asked and let the chips fall. That’s what Rhett is.
Q: He doesn’t quite have the same skillset as (Evan Engram), so how do you replace Evan’s role in the offense, or do you?
A: We just go out and play. There’s a few little things that you would only do with Evan in there, then there’s other things that we’ll do with Rhett in there. We just tweak it. There’s plenty of plays, and we’ll just kind of tailor it toward what those guys can do.
Q: Why do you think you had so much success running the empty formation on Sunday?
A: I don’t know, we’ve had success in the empty in the past. I think what happens with an empty, most quarterbacks like it because it’s, just get everybody as far away from me as possible so I can see the problems, and then give me some quick throws in case I got a problem. Most quarterbacks that are dropback style guys like empty, every team employs empty now. It’s just in the handbook. Then there’s certain things that we’ll always be able to do each week.
Q: What have you seen from Snacks? You got a first-hand look at him now, he had like seven tackles in 35 (snaps) – that’s pretty ridiculous.
A: Pretty good contact with the ball for a defensive nose man, nose tackle. It was really good. He had, I think he played 35 plays, which is a pretty good load for him. He’s tough, competitive, he gets himself ready to play every Sunday, and he’s hard to block in there. I think that contributes to our ability to start the normal down, the normal situation, when you’re in (big people?) run game, Snacks can be a force.
Q: When you’re a coach, do you almost have to say when you have a guy like that on the other team, when we’re running, we just have to not go pound the ball in the middle against this team?
A: No, you’ve got to try to run your runs, but certainly when you’re putting your run game together, you say, ok, how are we going to handle Snacks?
Q: You have a running back that takes a lot of passes coming out of the backfield, and they’ve got one that’s very similar in Kamara and they’d like to use him in that regard. What’s the challenge when you’re defending against that?
A: Yeah, it’s a challenge, because he’s like a receiver. He’s quick, he’s instinctive, he catches the ball well, he runs well after the catch, so when we’re matched up one-on-one we have to cover him well and then certainly when we play zone and try to throw a net around him, we’ve got to make sure if he catches the ball that we tackle him. That’s the challenge there.
Q: I know stats don’t tell a quarter of the story, but what did you see from your safeties? From outside looking in it seems like they’re quiet in terms of big plays?
A: That’s ok, if you’re keeping them out of the end zone. That’s sort of my take on it. We’ve got to be careful not to read too much into stats here in the first month as we get playing here. By midseason, you kind of get settled in on some of that stuff. It’s team defense, and it’s about keeping them out of the end zone. Phrases I’m not fond of, ‘bend but don’t break’ or make up your own, you don’t want them to move the ball, number one, but you want to keep them out of the end zone and that is the primary focus of playing defense. Our safeties have been contributing to that effort.
Q: When you looked at your offense on Sunday, other than the quarterback you can name at least four players who had enormous plays in that game. How much closer is that to the offense you designed?
A: That’s the best way to play ball, because the ball gets spread around for the right reasons. We’ve got to get them concepts that they can work with and all that, our marquee players, so to speak, need to touch the ball. I would’ve liked to score two more touchdowns. I think that’s the most important piece. So, if only one guy touches it and you score two more touchdowns, then hooray; but in reality, if eight or nine guys touched the ball, then when you look at that from the defensive side of things, you say, ok, we’ve just got to play team defense. The last play that we scored when Shep (Sterling Shepard) caught the under route, that was designed to go to Odell (Beckham). They doubled Odell, he beat the double but I don’t know how Eli would’ve known it, so he got off it and threw the ball to Shep. Then the guy that was (happiest) that Shep caught the ball was Odell. If you think about it, this is team, and whether you play defensive team and keep them out of the end zone or you play offensive team ball, and you don’t really care who touches the ball, and you get the ball in the end zone, that’s really what we’re striving for.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: What’s the challenge this week against a New Orleans team that’s very good against the run?
A: Watching them, they definitely stand out against the run, and just as a team in general. The challenge this week is, as every week, come to work every single day and try to get better, and prepare ourselves to be as ready as we can for the game this week.
Q: How do you build momentum as a football team?
A: Just continue to believe in each other, believe in the system. Continue to work our butts off, and I think the rest will take care of itself.
Q: Do you see a lot of (Saints RB) Alvin Kamara in yourself? Someone who catches the ball out of the backfield at a high volume. Is that exciting?
A: Yes, definitely exciting. I definitely respect Kamara’s game. He’s a different type of player. He can catch the ball out the backfield. He can run in-between the tackles. Pretty much a do-it-all back. Definitely a threat for that team that we’re going to have to focus on. On my case, I just have to focus on myself and focus on what I can do to help the offense.
Q: They’re only giving up three yards per carry, which is the lowest in the NFL. Do you see something in their front seven and their rush defense that looks kind of special?
A: Yeah, they definitely pop out on tape. They’re fast, they’re a physical team. They’ve got some great linebackers over there, great defensive linemen over there. We’ve faced great defenses before. We got to continue to just work on ourselves, and continue to come in every single day and work hard. I think everything else will take care of itself.
Q: Did you notice a different attitude from the offensive line in the last game? Or, do you think it’s more so a different technique? It seems like they had a different edge to them.
A: I wouldn’t say it was an edge. They just came out and they played their butt off. They played hard, and we were able to get the run game going the first half. We got to put together a full game as a whole, as a unit. The offense came out and they played great. I don’t think it was any different edge, or anything different. We wouldn’t have called plays different. They just came out and they played their butt off, and helped us out to get the win.
Q: Is there a different morale in this locker room just coming off a win? Is there a different vibe?
A: In my opinion, I wouldn’t say it’s a different vibe. It just feels good to get that first win out the way. We know the previous games how close we were to winning. This time, we didn’t almost get the job done, we got the job done. We were able to find a way to finish the game and get a win. We got to continue to do that for the rest of the year.
Q: Are you looking forward to getting a win at home in front of these fans?
A: Yeah, definitely. It would be great to get a win at home in front of your fans. They’re great fans, they travel with us. They’re loud, and they’re amazing. So, to be able to come out here and get on a little two-game winning streak, and to be able to do it at home would definitely be a huge game for us.
QB Eli Manning
Q: When you look back at Sunday’s game, what did you like best about the offense?
A: I liked a bunch of things, I thought we got off to a fast start, which is great, going down and getting the touchdown and responded and kept – first half was impressive. Third quarter didn’t do as well, but when we needed a drive at the end, also responded and got a touchdown at the very end to seal the victory. Those are two good things to build off and knowing we have that ability to when you need a drive and you got to get something going, we can go make it.
Q: Is it always special to play against a guy like Drew (Brees) who’s been around the league for a long time as well and has done some magical stuff?
A: Yeah, known Drew a long time and watched his career and obviously what he’s been able to do in New Orleans is impressive, so great person, great quarterback and always fun to compete against him.
Q: Getting one win is nice, but how do you concentrate here and follow-up? How do you build something? How do you gain momentum?
A: I think last week we had great urgency and understanding what we had to fix it and get better. I think you have to have that same mentality. We got to fix things from last week that there were mistakes and I think that’s the mindset is to get better and improve each and every week.
Q: Is it a mistake to go in there and think we got to score 30 or 40?
A: All you do is game plan. You game plan, you see what plays you like and you go execute and so that’s all you can worry about. You never put a ‘you have to score this amount or that amount’, you always have goals you want to hit in general, but you play the game and you don’t know what’s going to happen or what the circumstances are. You just got to be ready for whatever game it turns out to be.
Q: They’re giving up only three yards per rush, which is the best in the league defensively. Is there something special about their D that seems to standout?
A: They do a good job. They like to play a lot of single safety and have a safety down so they’re pretty big up front in their D-Line and stuff. They do a good job against the run and we just got to be able to find the run game, but also see if we can hit some plays in the pass game as well.
Q: Is Drew inspirational for what he’s able to do at 39?
A: Yeah it’s been impressive. What he’s been able to do, the way he’s playing this year, the last couple of years. He hasn’t dropped off, still moving around, making plays and throwing it as good as ever.
Q: Is there one thing that has impressed you the most or surprised you about the production?
A: No surprise. Watched Drew play in college and his whole career. Known him for a long time so just he keeps doing it. He keeps being able to throw the ball accurately and still got great arm strength and get down the field, still runs around and looks young out there.
Q: Is it nice to play against a quarterback who can call you kid?
A: Again, Drew does a great job. Our focus is on their defense and just trying to get prepared to go play them.
Q: Coach was talking about there were a number of opportunities last week where you could’ve had a home run ball where there’s a big play mentality with your club. When you have a chance to do that with so many guys, so many weapons, what does that mean?
A: Obviously there’s going to be some opportunities to take some shots and you got to be patient, can’t force them, but we got guys who can get down the field and some of it is not necessarily throwing a 50-yard throw, it’s our guys – they’re shifty, they’re quick, you can hit them, throw it accurately out of breaks. When they’re on the move, they can turn short throws into big gains.
Q: Hot topic around the league right now is sort of how they’re protecting the quarterbacks. Have you seen guys approach the way they come at you or hit you any differently?
A: I haven’t noticed it. I haven’t seen it from personally being out there. I know guys are conscious of it, the way they’re being called on certain hits so not a concern for me really. I’m okay with it.
Q: What do you think about the overall impression of them wanting to protect the quarterbacks to this degree?
A: I think they understand it. They’re trying to make it safer. Obviously as a quarterback, you don’t mind them trying to eliminate some of the driving you into the ground and eliminate the plays that could cause injuries, so I see both sides of the equation there.
Q: What one thing did the reconstituted offensive line really do well last week that you can see them building off of going forward?
A: I think they did a good job just picking up the pressures, just competing, just keep fighting. I think just have that mentality that they were going to block up some good players. Good defensive line and they were tough and just kind of hung in there and if they gave up – a team’s going to give up a sack or stuff like that is going to happen, just not get frustrated, don’t let that affect the next series.
Q: How exciting is this home game, good team coming in, early in the season, trying to get things going – what’s your message this week?
A: I think everybody is excited. Been on the road two weeks in a row and get a home game and go out there and hopefully get our first win at home. I think guys are excited about that opportunity.
Q: Did you notice a different attitude in your line last week as simple as technique?
A: I think it’s just everybody being dialed in to what our jobs were, doing our job better and that’s me, that’s with the offensive line just being on the same page, we’re communicating things and so just an urgency to make sure we know exactly what we’re doing, what our calls are going to be so guys can play fast and know exactly what’s going on.
Q: Knowing Drew for a long time, do you remember when you met him? Was it at Ole Miss?
A: I think I met Drew – he was still at Purdue, I think we were both at a Colts game and somehow being at Purdue in Indiana and I said I was at one of Peyton’s (Manning) games and he came to the game. I think I met him on the sideline or met him maybe in the locker room after so I was in high school or college at the time and just kind of kept up. Just known him since then and watched his career.
Q: You’ve been through a lot. Have you ever been through anything quite like that game a few years ago in the Dome?
A: That was a wild one and just back and forth high scoring. Had an opportunity to win it at the end and had a crazy kind of kickoff return and field goal, so no I don’t think I’ve been in a game quite like that one.
Q: When you walked off the field, you had six – you never had six touchdowns before in a game. In high school or college, you ever had six?
A: I don’t know. Maybe in college one game.
Q: It was a weird feeling walking off –
A: Yeah, you kind of felt like you did a lot of stuff, but we also had a chance to win it at the end with the two-minute drive and we had to punt. Obviously you could always do more, but yeah felt like we had played a great game and lose and that’s what a lot of teams would’ve felt that a little bit against the Saints. They got the ability to score a lot of points.
Q: There aren’t a lot of positions in pro sports where guys thrive in their late 30s, but there does seem to be a bunch of quarterbacks that do that. What is it do you think about the position that lets guys play well for so long?
A: It’s not extremely taxing on your body. Besides your arm, practices aren’t brutal. Games you can take a few hits, but you don’t necessarily have to be fast or be explosive and those types of things which can kind of – you could lose at an older age, but guys are taking care of their bodies better, they’re taking care of their arm, more arm care and if you could still keep a strong arm and still keep your joints healthy where you can move around a little bit, you can continue to play.
Q: Used to be an anomaly. Why do you think your generation in particular, there’s a lot of guys that are – even your draft class, your brother played until 40.
A: I think taking care of your bodies and your arms. There’s more research. The workouts, the lifting, the conditioning. Yeah, I think arm care, you probably don’t throw as much. Two-a-days and those things where you used to tire out your arm and wear it out. Don’t have to go through those things anymore so probably just being smarter about everything and probably also some of the hitting. Taking care of the quarterback and the hits. Back in the ‘70s, a late hit on a quarterback wasn’t called that often. Injuries that you do have, probably better surgeries, better rehab to get back healthy.
Q: I know you’re not going to tell us how long you want to play, but because of that, can you reset your expectations of how long a career can be?
A: I don’t think I ever had an expectation of how long it would be in the first place. You kind of play until you’re not.
Safety Landon Collins
Q: Do you study a player like (RB) Saquon Barkley when you have to go up against a player like (Saints RB) Alvin Kamara?
A: Practicing, yeah, but I don’t study Saquon. Practicing against him definitely brings us balance. You have to stay square and keep him in front of us. If you do that, you’ll be able to make a tackle on him, and same thing with Alvin.
Q: You know the ball is going to find him a lot (Kamara).
A: It’s something we know, and we have to game plan against. He has almost 30 touches from just out the backfield for passing. We know he can get a lot of balls thrown his way, a lot of touches. We have some work to do with that.
Q: How big of challenge is that as a defensive group?
A: It’s a big challenge. We look forward to it though. We’re excited for it because this is an explosive offense, and they’ve got a great quarterback back there that knows how to run it. He’s been doing a great job since he’s been in the NFL.
Q: This year (Saints QB) Drew Brees has thrown 80% completion percentage. How much pressure does that put on you guys?
A: A lot of pressure. We see he gets the ball out quick, and his guys get open. They know how to catch the ball. I think he kind of gets on their backs about it, and that’s what a great quarterback does.
Q: Do you feel like this defense if finally starting to settle down a little bit from Week 1? Do you see progression being made from Week 1 up until this point?
A: Of course, we’re settling down. We’re getting down the right concepts and we’re getting our defense right in terms of how we want to play. We know what defense we’d like to play. When we play the right defense for us, we’ll play at 110 percent.
Q: Do you feel like you’re getting off to a faster start these last couple games?
A: Yeah, we’re getting off to a faster start. We just want to get that first series to be a three-and-out if we can. That’s what we harp on. As long as we don’t let them score or get three points, or something like that, we’ll be good.
Q: How do you build on your first win? How do you gather momentum?
A: You gather momentum by staying the course. You don’t think about it. We got our win. We can kind of calm down now. We do the same preparation we did the week prior, the weeks before that, and the week before that. Just continue to get better and continue working to be the best.
Q: When you look at Brees’ numbers, he really is that good, isn’t he?
A: Yeah, he’s definitely that good. He’s the icon of their organization. He’s been doing a great job over there, and I’m looking forward to playing him.
Q: A lot of people get on Brees for his lack of height, you can block his field of vision, you can kind of control him, but it doesn’t seem like anyone can.
A: He just knows the game. He knows where his guys are going to be at. He knows his offense. He knows where to throw the ball. I don’t know a lot of quarterbacks that throw the ball to where it should be and not to their receiver.
Q: Kamara catches so many passes. Do you think that’s by design? Or, are more of those check-downs and looking for an escape patch?
A: Honestly, it’s hand-in-hand. Some of them are designed for him to get the ball. Some of them are check-downs. You get the ball in his hands and he can make an explosive play. So, why not check the ball down to him if he is open.
Q: Do you find it surprising that Brees is still able to get the ball out his hands so quick and play at a high level at 39 years old?
A: You have to understand we have a lot of good rushers. You don’t want to hold the ball back there when you have a lot of good rushers coming towards your way. So, getting the ball out slows down the rush. You get the ball out quick, now you have to try to find a quicker way to get to him, or you have to play differently. It slows a lot of people down.
Q: Right, but he’s getting up there in age. You would think that his release is slowing down.
A: No, not with a quarterback. Not with him, especially. He’s definitely going to keep his strengths up there.
Q: What did you guys do two years ago when you beat the Saints?
A: That was a different team, I can’t even speak about that (laughter). That was a different team with different players. I can’t even speak about that. Honestly, just play ball.
Q: How much stress does it put on a secondary when you have to account for (WR) Michael Thomas, and a guy like Kamara who can be a dynamic playmaker in the passing game as well?
A: It puts a lot of stress on us, but its two guys. We just got to figure out a way to contain them. You figure that way out, and you keep playing ball from there.
Q: Do you think this game will be a shootout? Some of the guys on offense may feel up to it. Maybe not so much for the guys on defense.
A: No, we’re not interested in that. That’s bad defense when you have a shootout. I had one my rookie year when I was here. I didn’t like it, so I’m not trying to have it happen here (laughter).
Q: In any level, have you ever been a part of something like that?
A: That game was the only time I’ve been a part of something like that.
Q: Was it helpless? It seems like neither team could do anything.
A: It’s really just lack of assignments. Knowing what you’re supposed to do, defensively, on both sides of the ball at that time. Every team scores within seven points, and it’s a low-scoring game if you look at it. If it’s a high-scoring game for one team, somebody is on the other side of the ball that’s not doing what their supposed to be doing.
Q: Is one win enough to get past the burden from not winning last year? Do you guys need to string together a few wins before you feel like this organization is back to its winning ways?
A: Honestly, we’ve got to keep on stacking them (wins). Like I said, we’re not really worried about last year. It’s a lot of players coming from last year, but it was a 0-2 start for us, for everybody. We don’t care what happened last year with us. It’s in the back of our mind. We’re going to carry it with us on our shoulders. We wanted to win, and we still want to win, regardless of the facts. When we go into each and every game, we’re trying to win.
Q: As a defensive player seeing all these roughing the passer penalties being called, how aware do you have to be of that? Do you have to do anything differently when you go after the quarterback?
A: Honestly, you got to continue playing football. It’s up to the refs discretion on what’s roughing the passer, because different refs are going to call it. We had a lot of tackles on the quarterback so far, and I don’t think we’ve gotten one yet. It’s on the ref’s discretion. Just keep going, you just keep playing ball. It’s a contact sport. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it won’t, and we just have to live with the consequences from there.
Q: Is it hard to realize what is and what isn’t a foul?
A: It’s very hard, because you don’t know what is a foul, what’s not a foul. Now you can’t scoop the quarterback from underneath his legs, and I did that the first preseason game against (Brown QB) Tyrod (Taylor), and I didn’t get flagged.
Q: Did anyone say anything to you?
A: No, nobody said anything. Even the ref came up and said, “Good job staying off the quarterback.” So I was like, alright, cool. Then, I saw (Vikings LB Erick) Kendricks do it from Minnesota. Then, I saw (Packers LB) Clay (Matthews) do it. Then, I saw a D-tackle do it in the Carolina game. I think two of them got called, and one of them didn’t. You really just have to play football, because we’re trying to stay off the quarterback. Maybe the easiest thing to do is taking their legs away from them, scooping them, and just setting them down, because if we drive in to them, it’s hard to take your body off of them.
Q: Do you see a difference in the Saints when they play indoors as opposed to outdoors? Are they a different team?
A: They’re a different team when they’re away, yes. I think so. They’re home field advantage is taken away. They love being in their dome. It’s hard to win in that dome. When they’re outside of it, you give the other team a little advantage.
Q: What is it about them that makes them a different team on the road?
A: I don’t know, that’s a good question. I don’t think it’s the fans. I just think it’s the atmosphere. They’re at home in their stadium. It’s just a better feeling.
LB Alec Ogletree
*Q: You look at (Drew) Brees, you look at (Michael) Thomas, you look at (Alvin) Kamara, they’ve got a lot of weapons, so what’s the challenge for this defense?
*A: The same as it is every week. We have to stop the run first and then try to limit the explosive plays and make sure we gang tackle Kamara and Mike Thomas and just get to the quarterback as much as possible.
Q: How about Brees and his accuracy, how much pressure does that put on a defense?
A: Puts a lot. He gets the ball out quick and he just gives it to his playmakers’ hands. Like I said, we got to do a good job of getting to him first and then make sure we tackle well.
Q: One win is nice, but how do you kind of establish something here that was just not one game, that you guys are going somewhere?
A: You just take what you did last week and try to build off of it. Correct your mistakes that you did and like I said, just try to keep that momentum rolling for this week.
Q: When you look at Brees and people say he’s small, get in his face, kind of wreck his field of vision, but yet he still does what he does. It sounds easy, but it’s not.
A: No, it’s not. He’s going to be a Hall of Fame quarterback one day. Well he really is a Hall of Fame quarterback, he’s going to have a gold jacket one day, but like you said, he’s done it for a long time and everybody says pretty much the same thing, you got to get in his face, try to limit his vision, but at the same time he has good pocket presence and he knows how to work in the pocket. Just presents a challenge for us to try to go out there and do that and get in his face and try to block his vision a little bit.
Q: There have been many scat backs over the years, Kamara is not the first guy to catch passes out of the backfield but why has he become so deadly these days?
A: They use him all over the field. He can line up at wide receiver, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. They look to get him the ball. He’s going to get his touches, so he’s special when he has the ball. He’s able to turn a small gain to a big gain and just like I said, it takes everybody to get to the ball and make a tackle.
Q: Is worrying about the big play really the biggest key in terms of containment?
A: It’s a numbers thing, that’s definitely one of the things. We want to limit the big plays because I think that gets them going and it makes the defense struggle a little bit, but to be able to stop them from doing that you can definitely have a pretty nice day against them. They’ve done it for a long time and they’re rolling right now.
Q: When you mention the stuff you’re saying about Kamara, it’s very similar to what they’re asked about Saquon (Barkley).
A: I don’t know, you have to ask them.
Q: Dealing with, as a defender, with that kind of a player.
A: They’re both good backs and they both can catch the ball out of the backfield, so you got to ask them what they think about Saquon as far as that goes, but as far as Alvin, like I said, he can catch, he can pretty much do anything anybody else can do.
Q: Does practicing against Saquon help a little bit the way he catches the ball out of the backfield, the way that he’s always going to get his touches in practice, give a good sense of what Kamara is going to do?
A: Yes, and no. Like I said, you get good work going against a guy like Saquon for sure during practice and it kind of helps you during the game as well, but they’re kind of different backs and do things different a little bit. At the same time, you do get good work.
Q: The fact as a defense you have to account for Michael Thomas, Kamara, Brees always a threat to throw it deep. How much added stress does that put on a defense verses any other week?
A: It’s relatively the same each week. Every team has their guys that they like to fix their game plan through and those two guys are definitely the top guys on the offense so it definitely presents a challenge for any team, us this week because we’re playing against them so we got a good game plan going in and we just got to execute our plan.
Q: Is Sean Payton’s offense a lot – a little more complex than other offenses that you faced?
A: No, I don’t think it’s real complex, I think they do a good job of getting to where they need to go and with Drew Brees back there, he can run pretty much any offense that you ask him to run, but those guys have been together for a long time so they know each other, they know what one another likes and with Brees back there, he gets the ball to his playmakers and lets them go make plays.
Q: A lot of different formations? They like to change it up a lot?
A: They do a number of different things. You just have to be disciplined in what you do defensively to have a chance against them.
Q: What makes Kamara so good? This guy is a weapon. They use him in pass, run, they split him out wide. What makes this guy – how tough is this guy to defend?
A: They use him all over the field and they’re looking to get him the ball. He poses a challenge for anybody, along with having 13 (Michael Thomas) out there too, so when you have those two there and like I said with Bress and what he does, it definitely poses a challenge for a lot of defenses.
Q: They had like nine guys with catches last week. What do you make of that when you see a team spread the ball around? That’s kind of unusual, right?
A: Yes, and no. They definitely like to pass the ball, for sure. That’s just their offense. They have playmakers on the outside and you can split the running back out and let him catch the balls too, so it’s definitely something they love to do is throwing the ball.
Q: Are you kind of on your toes a little bit more knowing that you have to kind of key in on obviously three or four guys?
A: You have to execute your game plan and that’s our going to be our thing this week is executing our game plan and try to limit the big plays and stuff like that.
Q: Is it kind of a confidence booster for the defense to build off of last week when you had two big turnovers enforced in that second half. Is that really a big step for this defense?
A: Yeah, it is. That’s something we have to do each and every week is create turnovers and get our offense the ball back as much as possible to let them go out there and put up points and control the game. We’re able to do that and it definitely gives ourselves a good chance.
CB Janoris Jenkins
September 26, 2018
Q: They’re averaging about 34 points a game, that’s a big number.
A: Yeah, just come out and play defense. Everybody just swarm to the ball, play as a team, and we’ll be ok.
Q: Not only do they have good receivers, but the guy coming out of the backfield is not bad either.
A: Yeah, once again, play good defense, swarm to the ball, play as one, and just finish every play.
Q: I know it’s early and the defense is still coming together, but do you sense this concept of team defense really starting to take root with everybody?
A: Yeah, it’s coming along. Everybody’s learning everybody, we got the system down, each week we’re just getting better. I can see it on the film, we can see it on film, each week we are getting better and we’ve got to come in week in and week out and do the same thing.
Q: Do you see a difference in them when they’re indoors or outdoors?
A: Yeah, quarterback wise, Brees, as far as throwing the ball, accuracy and all that. But once again, he’s a great quarterback, we’ve got to be on our toes and we’ve just got to be prepared.
Q: How difficult for you guys is it as a secondary when you have to account for someone like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, who has become a pretty big threat for them in the receiving game?
A: Just play as 11. Everybody swarm to the ball, play defense, and just play fast and we’ll be ok.
Q: Do you sense a difference in here coming off a win as opposed to the first two weeks?
A: Yeah, it’s a big difference. Everybody is high energy, motivated. We’ve been motivated, but even more motivated. Just got to keep stacking the wins and we know that, just got to compete.
Q: What makes (Drew Brees) so special in your mind, having played against him?
A: He gets the ball out fast, he understands all kinds of schemes and coverages, and he runs the show on the offense. Just got to stay on our toes.