New Orleans Saints QB
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
You donated one million dollars to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. What inspired you and your foundation to do this and what type of impact do you hope to make?
“Obviously, we know the type of devastation that a hurricane like that can cause. Obviously, being here six months after (Hurricane) Katrina and the length of time it’s taken to get things back here and then also to watch (Hurricane) Gustav come through here and (Hurricane) Isaac, we can only imagine the devastation and the way that it’s changed people’s lives up there. I know they have a long road ahead of them. Certainly they can use all the help they can get. It’s something we felt compelled to do as a foundation.”
What has Joe Vitt’s return meant to this team and at what point do you think the Saints started turning the corner to working back in the playoff hunt?
“I’d say after the Denver game has been the real push and I think there's a feeling that we’re starting to hit our stride and find a rhythm. We had our moments in the two games prior to that, the Chargers game and the Tampa game. You can feel it, you can see the results. All that hard work, all that stick-to-itiveness, just the fact that we went through that adversity together and hung tight and just battled, I think that’s going to pay dividends as we move down through the rest of our schedule. Joe Vitt, he brings a lot of just institutional knowledge, not only about what we do here, but he’s been around the game since 1979. That’s the year I was born, so 33 years, and his stories about this league when he first got here, I mean he can just go down the roster about all these great teams from the past, and usually there’s an anecdote or a story that would apply to something that we’re going through. So he can really draw the analogy or bring a story full-circle and communicate it in a way that guys get it and it’s a motivational tactic, but also in a lot of ways it makes you appreciate just how far we’ve come, how far this game has come, and I think it allows us to go out there and play better because, number one, we’re thankful because of the situation we’re in and the opportunity we have.”
Last year, you threw over 60 passes in the loss to San Francisco. Do you think you guys need to see more balance in this game?
“I think throwing it 60 times against these guys is not the ideal scenario. I think we are quite a different team now than we were then. Obviously that was a huge game. We were playing extremely well going into San Francisco. They were playing extremely well. Two teams that were playing about as good as you can play on both sides of the ball, and it was a great game. Unfortunately, we came out on the short end of that. I think for us, just looking at all that’s transpired from the last time we played those guys to now, I just feel like we’ve been through a lot and it’s made us stronger as a unit, as a group and as a team. I think we’re doing some things offensively, as you look at let’s just say the last six weeks, I think we’ve averaged throwing it maybe less than 30 times a game, which is quite a bit different from what we did there last year and what we were doing going into that game last year. I’d say on that note, obviously when we think about what’s going to be successful against these guys, number one sustaining drives, staying on the field, keeping their offense off the field. We know the type of playmakers they have offensively. Certainly we want to put our defense in the best position we can. We want to try to take advantage of every opportunity we get offensively to control the ball, to run the ball, to make plays in the passing game, and to score points when we can. Really just execution becomes so vital in a game like this because you know how well disciplined they are. They do all the little things very, very well. We need to be able to match that.”
How encouraging is it to see your running backs come back the way they have?
“I think it’s been great. They’ve gotten some opportunities.
Are there any adjustments that you guys have to make offensively being down to your third right tackle?
“I think we always to a very good job with our protection plan. First of all, I think our tempo, I think our ability to mix the run and the pass, I think our ability to change the pocket, the launch point, all those things help the guys up front. You can’t in this day in age expect just to drop back seven steps, hitch-hitch, throw with just five guys up front protecting you. Everybody is involved in the protection plan from the running backs to the tight ends to the receivers to the play-calling and the concepts and the things that we’re doing to try to get the ball out on time efficiently. Hey, are they going to get us from time to time or are they going to beat us from time to time? Yes, because they’re a really good front seven and they have the ability to do that, but I think what you just have to do is minimize the loss when it does happen or do your best to know where your outlet is, know where you can throw the ball away, and know just how to avoid the bad things from happening.”
How impressed were you with
“I thought he did great, especially for a guy who hasn’t been here that long, just since the beginning of the season. He’s been up, but he’s just been running the scout team and really hasn’t gotten any reps with the first team, and all of a sudden he’s thrown in the mix. I felt like he did a very good job. He was very calm and comfortable, a lot more so than I felt like typically a young guy getting his first action would have been. I think it says a lot about him and his preparation and the job Aaron Kromer has done with him, and also I think just that group up front. I think they instill a lot of confidence in each other.”
Have you found at times the offense has either been boom or bust? It seems like a lot of times the offense either scores a touchdown or has a three-and-out.
“We like the touchdowns. We’d like to keep those going. I think with any offense, but maybe especially ours, our ability just to get something going initially, typically that’s when we roll on and are able to convert a lot of first downs and go down and get into scoring position and we’ve been able to capitalize on a lot of those opportunities. I think that’s us just being even more conscious of drive starters, what plays do we like starting drives, what plays can get us that first first down and get a drive going for us and allow us to get into a rhythm.”
How much faster does your internal clock have to tick with Aldon Smith and Justin Smith on their defensive line?
“You just can’t have any wasted movements or any wasted time. You know that those guys are bearing down on you. To their credit, really that entire front seven, but especially when those two guys get to the same side. It’s pretty impressive what they’re able to do as a tandem. You always just have to be conscious that you can’t just be sitting back there holding that ball. You have to know where your outlets are and find places to get it out. I know the o-line appreciates that.”
Do you guys owe them one?
“I wouldn’t say that. A lot of people want to talk about a statement game and this and that, but the fact of the matter is that every week is a statement game. We have a statement to make every week. We have something to prove every week, especially the position we’re in. I don’t look at this as revenge. I don’t look at this as anything other than this is the next team that’s on our schedule and they just happen to be really, really good.”
How different is it to be back in the underdog role after starting 0-4 and having to come back from that? Is it a different mindset?
“I don’t know if we’d look at it like that because the expectation level has never changed. If we were worried about the way that other people perceived us, I think we’d be in trouble as this whole thing has gone on. We know we’re a great team. We know we have good guys. We have great character and great leadership. We do things the right way. So it’s just been a matter of putting that all together and making sure that the result reflects the process. I feel like we do have a great process. We do have great preparation. I’m glad the results have shown that five of these last six (games), because prior to that it was everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. Now we’re starting to catch some breaks, find our rhythm and the result is what we want.”
Do you think down and distance becomes even more important against a defense like this?
“Yes, you don’t want to get in positions where you’re having to hold the ball to push it down the field and it’s giving them more of a chance to pin their ears back and come after you. I think that’s what they thrive on. That’s the way they’re built. We certainly don’t want that. We want to be as efficient as possible and put ourselves into manageable positions and positions to succeed. We have a lot of plays we can call on third-and-five. There aren’t a lot of plays you can call on third-and-12 to 15.”