New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Monday, October 29, 2012
“I’ll share with everybody here what I said to our football team last night. I certainly share in their disappointment with the way we played. To be quite frank, we didn’t coach well enough to win. We didn’t play well enough to win and Denver did. Denver put (up) more good plays in a row, both offensively and defensively, than we did. Third down was a critical stat that we knew we had to win yesterday. We did not win. It all starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job of preparing our football team to play better. We’ll do everything we can this week to regroup and play a good Philadelphia Eagles team on Monday night. Our players will have off tomorrow and they will have off Wednesday. This is an extended week. They’ll all be responsible for coming in here to watch the film and get the corrections made, run and lift on their own, and we’ll start our preparation for the Eagles on Thursday.”
The passing game has been great all season. Was this past game an example of the offense suffering when the passing game isn’t performing well?
“This is a team effort. They did some things last night that you take your hat off. They out-executed us. They were well-prepared. I thought at times we did run the ball well. We have to stick to it a little bit more. When the passing game doesn’t flourish the way we expect it to around here, we’re still going to be held accountable to win football games and compete. We’ve got to improve on that and I’ve got to do a better job.”
“Let’s be honest now, this is Jonathan Vilma’s second preseason game. In retrospect, we wanted to have him do about 35-40 reps. I think he got about 45 in the game, so that’s a little bit too much right now. It’s a work in progress for him with his angles and his timing. His want to is certainly there. His leadership qualities are certainly there. The more he participates in practice, the better his timing will get and the better his pad level will get. It’s certainly great to have him back. I think we’re on the time clock right now. Those two guys are good football players. Now they have to learn how to play together, communicate among one another in the game and I think that could be exciting to watch in the future. In fact, I know it can.”
What changes do you try to make defensively? Do you try to change defensive packages?
“No. Understand this, it’s too late in the year to change schemes. We are what we are and we’re going to do what we have taught. Now that being said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We’ll explore everything that we have to do to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. With auxiliary fronts, some auxiliary coverages, talking about where we may start to set the edge, where we may changes our forcing unit up, those are things we’re going to talk about every week and on a weekly basis. We are going to continue to work on our tackling in practice, our angles to the ball, our hit points and do everything we can to get better. Tackling is a basic staple of a defense. If you can’t tackle and you can’t take proper angles, you’re potentially in for a long night. What we have right here now is a defense that’s playing in spurts. We’ll go two, three and four series and play pretty darn good. And then all of a sudden, we’ll have a breakdown here and a breakdown there and it becomes catastrophic. In the National Football League, you’ve got to be able to put back-to-back series together and play well through the course of 60 minutes and overtime, if need be, in order to win in this league. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel this late in the season.”
“No, Patrick got winded and got tired. So the next man was up and he played.”
What did you mean last night when you said that the players who will give you the best chance to win are going to play? Does that mean lineup changes?
“No, understand this now, this is Sean Payton, this is Mickey Loomis, we are always going to put the best players to give us the best chance to win on the field. That’s never changed. We think we’ve got good players here. In fact, we know we’ve got good players here that have to play better and that’s going to start with us coaching better. No, if you think that I’m in the punishment business or we’re in the punishment business or we’re in the threat business, no, that’s not the case. We’ve had a lot of success around here the past couple of years and we’re in some tough times right now, and there’s no team that I’d rather be with and no group of men that I’d rather be with than the men that we have in the locker room and on this coaching staff and in this organization. The people that built this organization, the people that have been here from the early stages, understand that tough times never last, but tough people do. And this is the time for us now to stand up and be accountable for and stand shoulder-to-shoulder and back-to-back and get the job done. It starts with me.”
Handling coach Payton’s duties and with Mickey Loomis still out, are you still acting as the head coach with personnel decisions?
“Yes, and everything that we’ve done here, and this is something that Mickey has instituted and this is something that Sean has instituted when we took over this thing in ’06, we discuss thoroughly every personnel move that we have ever made here. And I will say this, since I’ve been here in ’06, we’ve been in total agreement damn near every time we’ve made a personnel decision. That discussion is ongoing. We’ll discuss and we’ll grade our personnel today at a five o’clock meeting. Ryan Pace, our director of pro personnel, will be there. We’ll have college scouts there and we discuss personnel. When we make a move or if we have to make a move, it’s because we’ve discussed it in a meeting and we’re going to do what’s best for our football team.”
Is the tackling problem because of effort or technique?
“No, it has not been the effort. It has been technique, it has been angles, it has been timing, it’s been things that we can correct. Now quite frankly, if we can’t correct it and we can’t get better, we’re going to be in for a long season and everybody knows that. We’re dealing with men here, so the only way to get better at it is to practice and make it a point of emphasis, show it on film, teach it on the practice field and get results in the game.”
Do you treat this loss just like any other loss?
“A loss is a loss. A lopsided score is a tougher loss to swallow. But understand this, it hurts, but you have to swallow it. It has to go down. The National Football League, you cannot let the past dictate the future, so if you’re successful in the past you better not walk around like you have some sense of entitlement because you don’t. If you have a setback during the course of the season, you swallow it, you put it behind you and you move on. You better have amnesia to a certain degree in this business because we’re going to play again this Monday and we get to play this Monday on a nationally televised stage against a pretty good football team, the Philadelphia Eagles.”
What are some of the challenges with facing this Eagles offense, especially with some question marks at the quarterback position now?
“I don’t know about the question marks at the QB position. I know that we’ve faced Michael Vick when he was with Atlanta. He’s certainly a player that can extend a down. He’s certainly a player that can make you miss and has big-play ability. I, for one, do think he has an accurate arm. He has shown that when he played in Atlanta. We’re just in the midst right now of getting in (preparation for) this game. We’ll start with the Atlanta Falcons probably at 6:30 tonight with our pro personnel meetings. We know that LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are talented players. I think they have some people that are banged up on their offensive line. They’re going through a little bit of a transition now defensively with a new coordinator. We’re going to start to digest them and prepare for them starting at about 6:30 or 7:00 tonight.”
“That’s a good question. One of the things on my agenda tomorrow is to bring our practice squad players in so I can meet with them one at a time and get to know them and introduce them to our expectancy level of them with the practice squad is all about, how you practice and how you become a pro. It’s not a given just because you’re getting paid in this business to be a football player that you know what it’s like to be a pro. I thought Akiem took a step last night. I think with a young player, you’re always worried about his conditioning, the new looks he’s going to get, playing with a high pad level, his footwork and his hand placement. He continues to get a little bit better every game. I thought Corey White took a step last night. We warned him all week long that Peyton (Manning) was going to identify him early and try to go after him and see how he was going to respond. I thought he took a step. But I think we do have good young talent on this football team. It’s something that is the staple of our program is to draft well and sign young people. Again, I’m going to meet with a lot of these guys for the first time tomorrow and get to know them better and tell them exactly what we expect of them.”
How much sleep have you had since last night?
“None, but I’m well-rested. I’ve been out of here for seven weeks.”
Was there anything that stood out on tape that may not have been as revealing during the game?
“That’s why we have film. You go back and analyze all that stuff and you critique all that stuff and you take notes on all that stuff so you can talk to your football team about what we have to get better at.”
What stood out?
“That’s for the football team.”
You made a reference last night about the indecision to go for it on fourth down.
“Listen to me, I have to stand before our football team and tell them that I’ve got to get better as a coach. I took a timeout on a fourth-and-one to make sure that we had the right play when we wanted to go for it. We had the right play. We worked on it all week long. We had the right personnel because we worked on it all week long. That was my hesitancy. I should’ve taken a timeout before the half with 24 seconds left to go in the half to let Drew (Brees) take a shot to see if we could get a field goal. It was important and we talked about how we needed points in the game. There was a fourth down in the third quarter. I had a chance to go for it, it was fourth-and-one, I did not do it and punted the ball. That’s a mistake on me. I said this to you guys last week – this sport, this industry that we’re in, is not like riding a bike. Listen, I had to learn how to put my headset on last night, how to turn it on and communicate with both sides of the ball and get my feet grounded. So I’ve got to get better as a coach to give our football team a better chance to win.”
When you were the interim coach of the Rams, everybody knew they were playing out the season. How is this different?
“Well, I beg to differ. When I was with the Rams, I don’t know of anybody that was just playing out the season. That season, we went 4-7 and we lost five games by three points or less and we lost four of those games in the last minute of the game. I was able to be around some great players like Orlando Pace, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Leonard Little, Marc Bulger was hurt, Jamie Martin played for us, so I’d beg to differ. I don’t know anybody on that team that was playing out the season.”