Are you seeing more different types of fronts? Do you consider it a fad?
“I think the minute someone does it and has some success, whether they’re copying another defense, their scheme or something that has worked against you, they’re going to do it. At least show it to see what kind of traction they can get with it, but I think in the last four weeks it seems like we’ve seen more of it than usual and I feel like obviously we had in the Cleveland game, they were able to get some pressure with it. After that we saw it from the other teams, but I feel like we’ve handled it pretty well since then. We have a plan for it.”
Did you see Michael Vick Monday night at all?
“Yes. I saw some of the game. I turned it on early in the third quarter, not expecting to see the score the way it was. Obviously you think ‘what happened?’ All of sudden you start seeing the highlights. It was an unbelievable performance. Very impressive. You look at the fact that it was on the road and half the game was in the rain and it was probably one of the best performances any of us have ever witnessed at the quarterback position.”
You wrote a book called Coming Back Stronger. Is this an applicable situation?
“I saw his interview after the game. What he said, the last thing he said was that he’ll never take anything for granted again, especially the opportunity that he’s been given in Philly. I’m sure he probably feels a real sense of loyalty to them now, because they took a chance on him when maybe not a lot of teams wanted to or felt like they didn’t have a place for him. They took him in. He feels obviously what he’s been through, fighting through that type of adversity that he’s getting another chance and another shot and that there’s somebody that wanted to take him in and give him that chance. He’s obviously taken advantage of it.”
Will the return of
“There are many ways we can get Reggie the ball. We can hand it off to him. His ability to catch balls out of the backfield whether it’s designed for him or he’s just a checkdown out of the backfield, or you split him out or you get him the ball or you get him screens, whatever it might be. Anytime you can just give him the ball in space he’s a matchup problem for everybody, because there’s not really a guy who can cover him in a short area because of his quickness and athletic ability.”
Is there a specific correlation where maybe if a team has been playing a lot of two deep zones, maybe one safety has to creep up a little after his return?
“Yes, I think he changes their gameplan for certain formations or personnel groupings when he’s in the game, just because you have to account for him. You have to account for this guy. If you’re dialing up a lot of man coverages for example, who’s going to guard this guy if he just runs out and he’s the lone receiver out here? Do we feel good about that matchup? Now all of a sudden do we have to cheat a safety for that side, which opens up an opportunity for the other side of the field. (Those are) just things to consider when he’s in the game.”
How much does he being there open things up with both some short passes and bigger plays?
“Definitely. The better your run game is, the better your threat of underneath passing is, the better your opportunities to throw it down the field. All that stuff can help.”
Do you feel maybe because he wasn’t there bigger plays on the outside didn’t open up because they were keyed on the outside?
“I think that’s part of it. Lack of opportunities when I look at the whole season as to why maybe we’re a little bit lower or why I haven’t had as many big plays, that’s certainly something that could happen.”
The last couple weeks the offense has been opening up without Reggie. What is different?
“I think we’ve just taken a very aggressive mentality. We’re kind of getting back to our brand of football with great tempo obviously, a lot of formations, a lot of personnel groups, a lot of guys involved, taking shots, at least dialing them up if they’re there, taking advantage of them, otherwise check it down, move on and we’ll call it again another time.”
Have there been a lot of differences in play design? Have you tweaked it a little bit to open things up?
“It’s a matter of what we’re getting, how well we’re running the ball and then you gradually get into that stuff. We go into every game with the thought we’re going to dial up a lot of those plays.”
When you see a quarterback like Donovan McNabb get his deal re-worked, the question comes back to you. Is it on your radar to get a new deal done before a new labor deal is reached?
“It’s not an issue during the season. It’s not on my radar. I’m just thinking about winning games, but obviously when the time comes, we’ll definitely be talking.”
What is your big picture assessment of where the Saints are going into these last seven games in the NFC and meeting your goals?
“The fact of the matter is we’re one game off the lead in the division, the NFC and the one seed if you really look at it. With seven games to play that’s where we are. We happen to play one of those teams again, Atlanta, who’s sitting on top of our division at 7-2. We control our own destiny right now. That’s really all you can ask for. We haven’t really played as well at the start of the season as we wanted to at times. We’re starting to hit our stride. We’re starting to get healthy and this is when you want to be playing your best football.”
It seems like people are talking more about the Falcons, Eagles, Patriots and Jets right now. Given how you guys have played lately, what you do you make of that and see for the rest of the season?
“We’ll just keep flying under the radar, keep winning games, doing what we can, let the chips fall where they may at the end. Everybody can talk about who they want as maybe being the favorite or there’s going to be plenty of speculation. We plan on being there.”
What do you see in Seattle?
“They’re a team where I look at them defensively, the one thing for them negatively is maybe they’ve given up a lot of big plays, but I see their ability to get after the passer a little bit. I see a group that plays with their front and coverage a little different. Their scheme is a little different than most teams you play. It’s something that requires extra preparation and study for. They have a lot of personnel groups in their subpackages. Know who’s on the field, where the opportunities for matchups are and maybe big plays, but you obviously have to be able to protect, pick up the pressures and take advantage of those opportunities.”
How are the fronts and schemes different?
“Just kind of where they align guys in the front and it’s not a big deal. I’m not going to get overly technical here. Just leave it at that. Their front’s a little bit different than most the way they align guys and like I said, some of the pressures and subpressures in personnel groups give you something to think about.”
Do you think Matt Hasselbeck will play with a cracked wrist? Can you talk about taking the snap with it? Does it make a difference?
“I think a lot of it’s your ability and how you can flex your wrist. You’re almost at a ninety degree angle on the snap. How can you flex your wrist? I don’t know his situation. I’m just kind of giving you a little dissertation on taking a snap. Maybe they’ll be in the gun a lot. I don’t know.”