New Orleans Saints QB
What is your focus going into this game and what are you trying to get out of it?
“Obviously, we want to look better than we did in our first preseason game. We’ll get some more playing time in this one. Going into it, you feel like – okay, we’re prepared to play a good quarter or quarter and a half, maybe even a whole half depending on how many plays we get – and we want to look sharp and get a good roll going and spread the ball around a lot. We want to get everybody a lot of touches and get everyone involved and feeling like they had some opportunities to make plays.”
I know people say the preseason results don’t matter, but how important is it to you to play well and have a few touchdown drives?
“That’s always important, just from a confidence standpoint. Every year you just want to re-establish yourself and your identity. I just feel like, when you look at our continuity on offense, which is quite a bit and then the two new offensive linemen with (Olin) Kreutz and (Zach) Strief stepping in, the skill position has a lot of familiar faces. I look forward to seeing more of
You’ve mentioned Kreutz and Strief. Do you feel like they’re becoming more of a cohesive unit with the other linemen?
“I do, absolutely. Strief has been here for going on six years so he’s familiar with the guys he’s next to. Kreutz has been here for only two weeks now. I’ve been very impressed with how he’s stepped in. You look at him now and it’s as if they’ve been together for a long time. I think he brings out a lot of good things in the two guards and the same is true the other way around – they help him out in a lot of ways. The combination of all those guys, the more reps they get together, the more success we can all have together.”
What’s your assessment of yourself so far two weeks into camp?
“I feel good physically and mentally. Obviously, we haven’t installed all the offense yet. With where we’re at right now -the running around on the practice field and all the competitiveness we’ve demonstrated between offense and defense and the visualization, thinking about all the different situations and personnel groups you can play guys in – I feel great about being back and having a chance to get better.”
What do you think about playing the Texans? They seem to present a good challenge.
“Absolutely. I have a lot of respect for Wade Phillips. He was the defensive coordinator in San Diego when I was there so we spent time together. I think he’s a great defensive coach. I’m sure that he will bring a new attitude to their defense and a new scheme. He typically does a very good job of putting guys in the position to utilize their strengths. It’s always a challenge for us, and you don’t see the 3-4 every week so this is yet another 3-4 team after seeing San Francisco last week and we’ll get some good work. Like I said, we just want to look sharp.”
How much do you feel like you could take away from this game considering you guys play them early on in the regular season?
“Obviously, it’s a pretty quick turnaround. I don’t think you go out there and pull out all the trick plays by any means, but still, you’re trying to win. As I look at it, with the things we need to continue to improve upon, it’s just our base offense. You have to go out there and show you can do it with your base offense before you try to expand anything else. We have a lot to prove every time we step onto the field and a lot of times it’s just our base offense.”
Where do you stand on the pass-run balance? You’ve typically been known to be a pass first team. Do you think that’s okay?
“I think you have to have a complementary game. There are times when you get into a game and they’re bound to stop the run and they’re going to make you beat them with the pass and then vice versa. We’re not going to let you get big plays down the field so you’re going to have to beat us with the run. You see that each week, but most of the time it’s a healthy balance. They’re going to mix the coverages and mix the pressure and you try to take advantage of the opportunities when you get them. For me, I understand the value of a great running game. There are a lot of things that go into that. It’s not just the guys running the ball. It’s the scheme and it’s the guys up front. It’s very much a mentality. I know that when we are at our best, and I look back at the 2009 Super Bowl season, I think we finished fifth in the league in rushing. It’s not always yards per game, but yards per attempt and how efficient are we. Are we doing a great job of setting up the play-action pass and setting up big opportunities down the field? I do understand the value of a great run game and we need to have that to take this thing to the next level that we want to.”
What have you seen from fullback
“I’ve been really impressed with Jed and really happy for him. He was a guy that bounced around a little bit and came in mid-year last year on the practice squad. Now he’s coming in and getting the chance to start with the departure of Heath Evans. We’ve brought in other fullbacks to compete and I think he’s risen to the occasion and taking advantage of every opportunity he’s been given. You’re happy for guys like that who work hard and do the right things. If he continues to progress at the level he’s progressing, I think the future’s bright for him.”
For a guy like (Collins), is it important for him to get into the right system?
“Yes, and also getting comfortable. You’re coming off the streets and trying to learn a new system and personnel, there are so many things about the fullback position that you can’t necessarily teach. Those guys are wired a little bit different just because of their job description. A lot of what they’re doing is just head-butting. It’s a physical position and one that you have to have a level of toughness and he definitely has it.”
You talked about the mentality of the running game. Can you have that and still have the passing game of the Saints or Colts?
“Absolutely. I’ll bring you back to the 2009 season again. Top five (in the league) in both passing and rushing offense. I’d say that’s pretty successful at both and obviously you see the results. There’s no doubt that we can be that. It’s fun playing ball when you’re that way too because you feel like the defense is at your mercy and they don’t know what coming. It’s might be a short pass or a quick hitting run. It might be an inside run or outside run and then play action down the field throw. You just feel like you can do anything when you have a solid run game and are being efficient in the passing game. You’re spreading the ball around and everyone is getting touches, that’s when I think I feel like we’re operating at a really high level and that’s always our goal.”
Third-and-ones, just being able to move the chain has to be critical for you guys?
“It is critical because you’re going to encounter a few of those every game. Sometimes five or six short yardage situations where you just have to say – hey, we’re going to run the ball this play to pick up a yard, everybody in the stadium knows it, and we’re still going to get a yard. You have to have that mentality and you have to be able to execute.”
Last year you said defenses would try to take away the pass and you would have to beat them with the run. Is that something you guys weren’t able to do successfully last year?
“We started off slow in the big play category last year. They work hand in hand. If you’re not running the ball as well as you should or as well as you can, then they’re probably thinking- if we can keep two safeties back there and still play the run effectively, then we’ll do that and limit your ability to throw the ball down the field. That’s why we feel we need to establish the run and need to be physical. When we do that, typically it brings safeties out of the deep part of the field and brings them down in the box to help with the run game and that opens up the field for the passing game.”