New Orleans Saints Quarterback
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
How is Cam Cameron as a coach and what can he do to make young quarterbacks better?
“My four years with Cam in San Diego were awesome and that was a time where I was in my second, third, fourth, fifth years as a professional. Obviously, I was a young quarterback and had a lot of learning to do. He was a great coach for me and I feel like he certainly has a way to challenge quarterbacks, get the most out of you, and get the best out of you. I actually paid him a visit this offseason. I drove up to Baton Rouge and spent some time with him and talking a little shop, looking at some of their stuff. I felt like Cam was, with our offense there, Antonio Gates, LaDainian Tomlinson,
Did Cam take any of your pointers?
“I don’t know if it was my pointers, we were just talking shop. It was funny to compare notes a little bit. He has been in the NFL for so long. It was funny because he was the coach at Indiana University when I was at Purdue, so the relationship was the other way around. We were kind of archrivals, instate rivals, but then he obviously became my coach in San Diego and then he was in the NFL. You are always looking at their offense, they were doing great things with (Joe) Flacco and the weapons they had there. It was always interesting to turn on the tape and see what he was doing, maybe comparing what we were doing and that kind of thing. It looks like he is in a great situation now.”
Are you seeing something different in the red zone than you normally are?
“No, I think it is just execution. (On) At least two occasions it has been penalties, we got a couple of penalties that set us back and the field is already compressed enough at that point, challenging enough to get five yards much less 15 or 20 when you set yourself back so. We have to do a better job with that and I think just overall execution. We certainly had some opportunities and just haven’t taken advantage of them yet. Eventually that will bite us if we don’t get it fixed so that is what we are working on.”
Do you feel fortunate that you guys have been able to pick up two straight wins with some red zone struggles?
“Yes, very fortunate. We pride ourselves on being able to sustain drives and convert third downs and obviously punch it in the end zone in the red zone. We have always been top in the league in that regard. Also, the big plays, it’s great when you get the big plays but you can’t bank on it. You have to be ready to sustain drives and be patient and all of those things. It is definitely an area we are focused on and need to clean up.”
What is your evaluation of Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu on the Cardinals?
“Yeah, they are both explosive players. They are very talented, playmakers, game-changers, so as you are sitting there watching film, they are definitely two guys that you want to know where they are and how they are playing. It seems like they always have their eyes on the quarterback. Definitely, as we sit there and think about how to attack them and game plan them, that kind of thing, you are definitely aware of those two guys.”
Can you talk about how Tyrann Mathieu was a risk/reward acquisition in the draft and maybe still is?
“He is much more on the reward side at this point. He is a playmaker. He is a ballplayer. He is extremely instinctive. So many things he does you just can’t teach. They are just there and he just has that football moxie, ability to make plays around the football and just do things that you just kind of shake your head at. I don’t know if you saw that play he made against the Rams where he chased the tight end down and dove and knocked the ball out, just the timing of that, but more impressive than that is if you watch him hit the ground. I’m not sure if he ever touches the ground when he fell because he was up back on his feet so fast like a cat or a honey badger.”
What are your thoughts on Dashon Goldson’s hit and his suspension being overturned?
“I didn’t see that, so what, he was suspended for a game and then it was overturned? We don’t make the rules. I know he has had a lot of those. He certainly has no regard for the rules in the middle. He is going after guys’ heads, you can see it. Obviously $100,000 is a hefty fine and I’m sure if it continues to happen it will be even greater punishment than that.”
Does this seem like hypocrisy from the league?
“Obviously there is an evaluation process that goes along with it. It’s hard when you are coming off a game where that was one of our guys that he was going after on more than one occasion. And then obviously the hit on Jimmy (Graham), which wasn’t him (Ahmad Black), it was another one of their guys, but it was obvious they were going at his head. I have no sympathy for that. I care for those guys and I don’t want to see that happen to our guys. I know the rules and I know it is tough playing the safety position in the middle, things happen fast, but then again, there are some instances where it is pretty obvious a guy was going for another guy’s head and that happened on at least two occasions in our game. It is what it is and that is why the rules are in place to protect defenseless players and continue to be enforced. Sometimes they get overturned, sometimes they are just hefty fines, sometimes you will see some suspensions, but I know it is a point of emphasis.”
Is there an adjustment at the quarterback position with the new rules?
“I know this, as a quarterback, the last thing I want to do is ever feel like I laid one of my guys out to dry. I know that we have guys that are courageous individuals. They are going to go across the middle. They are going to go for the ball. There are times where I am going to put them in the best position I can to help them make a play and that’s a part of this game too. We are probably going to throw more balls than most that people wouldn’t probably throw or attempt to throw. That is just the trust I have in our guys. Jimmy is going to go up and make a play. Marques (Colston) is going to go up and make a play, Lance (Moore) and others. But also, I am very aware of the fact that there are physical guys in between the numbers, in between the hashes, linebackers, safeties that there job is to hit you and hit you hard and make you remember it and not want to come across the middle again. I am very aware of that and last thing I want to do is ever hang one of my guys out to dry.”
Do you feel more protected with the rules and does it change your mindset of playing quarterback in the NFL?
“No, I am aware of the rules that protect defenseless players and the quarterback being one of them when he is in the pocket, whether it is guys coming low when you are stepping in low and when you are stepping into a throw and they come at a knee or an ankle, coming at a head when you are standing in the pocket. I am very aware of those, obviously it is meant to protect guys that aren’t in a position to protect themselves at the time. You see defenders becoming more aware of that and I think it is making the game safer, not saying that it is not difficult for defensive players, it is very difficult for defensive players because instinctively things are happening so fast and you are kind of in another place as a defensive player. You are thinking about hitting someone as hard as you can and getting the ball and doing all of those things. They don’t want to see a receiver catch a ball in the middle. They don’t want to see a quarterback have all the time in the world to sit back in the pocket and not get hit, they are trying to hit you. I know it is very difficult for defensive players, but the rules are in place to prevent guys from having serious head injuries short-term and long-term.”
Do you think elite athletes have the reflexes to pull up or slightly change an angle?
“Yeah they do to an extent. Like I said, you can turn on the film and there are going to be hits throughout this year that are delivered to a guy’s head that you are going to look at and say, gosh that happened so fast that it’s obvious that was not intentional. I think too there is a track record for some guys. You look at some guys and say hey, this is just a hard-nosed (player) but clean player. You are going to look at other players and say hey, this guy has a reputation of being a dirty player, he doesn’t care and he’s going for the head and it is obvious by the film that you see with the number of penalties he has racked up over the course of a period of time. You are going to be able to evaluate that based upon the player and if you flip on the film and you know what you are looking at and you know football and you have been in that position before or you are well aware of the situation, you will be able to say, that was unintentional or man that looked pretty dirty.”
Has there been an emphasis to get the ball to
“Here we are just two weeks in, listen, we are executing the offense. We’ve called plenty of plays that could have gone to anybody, they just happen to go to Jimmy a little more or Sproles or what have you. We are going to keep doing what we are doing and to fine tune. We have been executing certain things very well and we need to improve upon some things. I think you will see better distribution as this season goes along.”
Would you defend
“No it doesn’t all fall on him. There are a lot of guys out there that have to do their job in order to get him in the end zone. Listen, that was a great defensive effort and combined with guys on offense doing all the right things, but it was kind of a stalemate on the one inch line. Credit to them, they stepped up and did a great job stopping us. So much, I think, in those calls is based upon on momentum and confidence at the time, a play call that you really like and then hey, did you get the look you thought you were going to get. And for us, no that was not the look we thought we were going to get. There were adjustments that had to be made. I thought we did a good job of, but it’s not what we practiced. Listen, our job, at the end of the day, is you call the play, we make it work and we didn’t get in, so that’s on us.”
Was Ingram the right guy for that play?
“Absolutely. Listen, had Pierre (Thomas) been in there, I would have said great. Had (Darren) Sproles been in there, I would have said great. I have confidence in all of our guys no matter what the situation. We do mix and match those guys quite a bit and I’ll never question that.”
What is your thought process when you come out of a one touchdown game?
“I’m sitting there going, we had a chance at the end of the second quarter to punch one in for a touchdown and we didn’t. That should be a touchdown nine out of 10 and unfortunately that was the one. The interception down here should have been a touchdown, that’s a 14 point swing. So you combine those two and all of a sudden we wouldn’t have to drive down at the end of the game to kick a field goal. We would have had 14 points plus, and then it’s a 27 point game and you are saying, ok, on the road in the division, that should get you the win. The fact is we did not. There were other things we could have done better execution, maybe we convert a third down instead of a field goal results in a touchdown because we had quite a few drives where we attempted a field goal. We have a lot of things to clean up and a lot of things to improve upon.”
Do you think that 40 point game is on the horizon?
“We are used to having four or five of those a year where you are racking up 40 (points). That’s the level we expect ourselves to play at and we haven’t been at that level. I hope that it happens soon. Especially walking away from these last two weeks, we are averaging below 20 points a game and that’s not what we are used to. We are used to being much better than that. There is a big sense of urgency around here despite the fact that we are 2-0 and 2-0 in the division. We’ve won these games, it was really just about a play here, a play there that could have gone the other way on us. We need to make sure we are cleaning those things up because it is only going to get more difficult. The margin for errors is only going to get smaller. We know if we are going out and scoring 30 plus that we have a great chance to win and taking care of the football and doing some of the other things we need to do to help our defense and play complimentary football. At the end of the day, did you score more points than them and if so then you won, but man if you are scoring 30 plus your chances of winning go way, way up.”
Did you have a chance to see the Steve Gleason documentary last night?
“I have seen bits and pieces, but I did not see the piece last night. I heard it was phenomenal. I can’t wait to see it.”
When the defense is playing as well as it is, is it easier to take more chances and to be more aggressive?
“Yeah, it is. What it does, in the game the other day, the defense played phenomenal. The only two touchdowns they scored were from two turnovers and that’s when we give them the ball deep in our territory on one and they run one back from a touch down. At the end of the day, you say our defense didn’t give up any points. Those were all points that I gave up for that matter. I feel terrible about that. But yeah, when the defense is playing like that, you feed off that, especially when they got us two turnovers around midfield. You feel like you are going to take those and get points immediately. That is complimentary football at its best, where you are feeding off their emotion, their success, their ability to take the ball away and those kind of things. You are capitalizing on those and in turn I think that feeds them. When we are moving the ball on offense and sustaining drives and giving them rest and scoring points at the end of it, I know they get charged up too.”
Do you see this past game as a landmark game for Jimmy Graham?
“Walking away from it if you would have asked me Jimmy’s numbers I wouldn’t have said, 10 receptions for 179 yards. I wouldn’t have thought it was that much, but I guess looking back at it you start adding it all up. I guess my point is, not that you have this expectation level, you are just used to seeing a lot plays being made. It’s not like taking him for granted, but I think we all just expect that if we are not putting up 400 yards as an offense, score 30 plus points, running the ball well, throwing the ball well, hitting some big plays, doing these things, when those things don’t happen is when you notice. When it is happening, it’s just like, this is what we do. Jimmy has been locked in and very focused this entire offseason and I can’t say that this game, more so than any, this season certainly. I think coming off last year where he was really banged up and fought through injuries that most people probably didn’t even know about. I think he is just happy to be healthy and happy to be in the situation he is in.”