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Zach Strief, Curtis Lofton Share Thoughts on Broncos Contest

Posted Oct 29, 2012

New Orleans Saints tackle and linebacker spoke with members of the New Orleans media via conference call

New Orleans Saints Tackle Zach Strief
Conference Call
Monday, October 29, 2012

Listen to Strief's Call

As far as plane rides go after a loss, how was last night’s? How would you compare last nights to some of the others?

“It’s obviously disappointing. I don’t know that it’s more disappointing than a close game because they all count the same at the end. Obviously, it was somber. There were a lot of guys just keeping to themselves. It’s a lot of work to put in to a game plan to go out and play like that. Obviously it is disappointing for all of us.”

Did it seem that you guys got away from what you normally do offensively? Were you playing traditional Saints football?

“We certainly weren’t as productive as we’re accustomed to being. In terms of the plays, the plays were all things in our offense. Obviously, again, our balance wasn’t there. Some of that is a product of the situation that we put ourselves in by not producing early and getting behind. The production is certainly not what we’re accustomed to and certainly an odd feeling as an offense. In terms of the actual offense, it was all normal stuff.”

What was going on with the confusion when you decided to go for it on fourth down in the first half?

“It was fourth down, we came off the field. Then I think they had sent the punt team on because of the offense came off and Joe (Vitt) wanted to go for it. So then we turned around and by that point we were low on the play clock so they took a timeout. It was something we had said going in to the game that we were going to be aggressive and we weren’t going there to compete; we were going to try to give ourselves a chance to win. That’s what we did and, obviously, we didn’t convert there. The confusion, I think, was more so us running off the field because it was fourth down than anything and it kind of got us behind on the play clock.”

How much of a momentum shift did you feel with that, not being able to convert on fourth down?

“Obviously it’s a big play because you’re putting your defense on a short field. At that point, we hadn’t really converted on third downs to that point which is something we are not accustomed to. You never want to leave your defense in that type of situation. It’s a disappointment as an offense, I don’t know if it’s a mental shift. Certainly a disappointment and it’s a situation that you can’t put your defense in.”

Can you put your finger on what has gone wrong with the running game?

“You could probably put your fingers on it, I don’t know that you could put your finger. This is really isn’t a cliché comment, it’s not one thing. It’s a lot of things. Plays where the offensive line is blocking well, we might miss a block on the edge or we might miss a hole. Plays that the edge is blocked well and the running back is hitting the right hole and we’re missing a block. There is just a lack of consistency. When you look at that game, we had a lot of positive runs. We had a pretty substantial loss on a play where a very good defensive end gets upfield and was able to make a play. We ran a zone into a weak blitz that we couldn’t see the way they were formatted. You get some negative plays in situations like that. When you get into a game that has the flow that that one did, where we were behind, it doesn’t give you an opportunity to really grind out a bunch of running plays. We just have to be more successful when we get a chance to. We have talked all year, it is an important thing for our offense. It makes things kind of go in our offense when the running game is moving. It’s not easy to put your finger on one thing because it’s really more complicated than that.”

How did yesterday’s loss affect you?

“It’s disappointing. We don’t put that kind of work in to have outcomes like that. That’s frustrating. To be perfectly honest, we haven’t lost like that in New Orleans since I have been here. The fact of the matter is you have to move on the same way that you would after a big win. You have to kind of put the game behind you. Every week is a different week. The good thing is the more disappointing the game, the better week of practice after. As a player, that’s all you can focus on is trying to get better and trying to improve. Obviously, this is a step backwards for us. It’s disappointing but like you said, by Wednesday you have to move on.”

Do you concern yourself with the possibility of a ‘woe is me’ attitude coming in here with the record at 2-5?

“I think that it’s human nature to have that feeling. The message in our locker room has always been very much that if it’s not a positive step forward, it’s not worth having. Feeling bad for yourself or getting down in this situation is not going to fix anything. It’s not going to make anything better. It’s just going to make everyone kind of miserable. At the end of the day, the goal is to win games and having that attitude is not going to win anything for us. The great thing about our locker room is come Wednesday this game will be flushed and we have to move on because it’s the only way to get any better. It’s the only way to give ourselves a chance to win next week.”

What does it reflect when you don’t run the ball on third-and-short?

“As an offense, you say where is our best opportunity in being successful. I think all of us agree now, and have always agreed, that putting the ball in Drew’s (Brees) hands is always a good option for us no matter what. We’re never going to complain or question giving Drew a chance to make a play. He’s our best player and he’s a guy that we really ride. Obviously he is not going to be any more happy with the results of those third downs than we are. At the end of the day, we trust very much in coach (Pete) Carmichael and the plays that he calls. More than anything we trust Drew and putting the ball in his hands is always going to be ok with us.”

Do you guys feel a little bit of responsibility, especially yesterday, for the poor showing from the defense because you had them on the field a lot?

“You look at our third down percentage, I don’t remember exactly what it was, I think it was 1-13 or something like that (1-for-12), you’re not going to win the time of possession. If you leave an offense (in) for that much time in a game, they’re going to wear a defense down. That’s on us. Our defense doesn’t have an opportunity to succeed if we can’t possess the ball and stay on the field, especially with a quarterback like that (Peyton Manning). Eventually, that team is going to wear your defense down. In the second half especially, (where) we really didn’t stay on the field enough to give them a chance.”

What is something that pops into your head when you hear Eagles defense?

“They’ve always been a fast, aggressive defense. Even after the coaching change they’ve always maintained that it’s a fast defense, they’re going to be aggressive and going to come after you. It’s changed a little bit since we played it last. Their defense in general, they’re very similar now to kind of the Detroit Lions. They’re using wide-nine techniques. It’s really built to be aggressive and rush the passer. They’re going to bring pressure. I haven’t seen the breakdown of them yet but I’m sure that they’re ranked high in the amount of pressures that they’re bringing. That’s always been their defensive MO. It’ll be a challenge. They’ve got a lot of talent on that side of the ball.”

Could the 2-5 start be an indirect result of the rough offseason?

“Obviously it is hard to say what that accounts for exactly. How many games does that lose you or win you? I think it’s naïve to say it doesn’t have any effect. At the end of the day, and I’ve said this before, when you’re on the field it’s not in your head. It’s not what you’re thinking of. At the end of the day, we are paid to make plays and to perform and to win games. We haven’t done that as players. While, yeah, I’m sure there is an effect there, it’s hard to say exactly what it is. It’s really irrelevant because regardless of circumstances our job is to win and we haven’t done that.”

You started off by saying that you have to treat a big loss as no different than a close loss. How hard is it to really feel that way?

“The perception is that the more you get beat by, the worse you feel about it. I think having a chance to win a game and having it slip through your fingers is probably harder mentally to deal with, mentally. We obviously got in game where we didn’t play well on either side of the ball. You don’t want to be in that situation especially with the hole that we dug ourselves we can’t afford to have games like that. Personally, it’s mentally harder to lose a very close game that you had a chance to win or should’ve won and didn’t than it is to have a game like that. I think it’s more embarrassing to have a game like that than it is mentally difficult.”

New Orleans Saints LB Curtis Lofton
Conference Call
Monday, October 29, 2012


How surprising was last night with how many yards the Broncos were gaining on you guys?

“It was frustrating because I felt like we had a solid gameplan going in. We came out in the first half and for the most part played great defense. When we came out in the second half, we couldn’t get anything stopped.”

Moving forward, what needs to change? What can you guys do differently to have a better product out there defensively?

“From what I caught from the film, when plays are presented you have to make them. I had an interception that I should have made. Tackling out on the perimeter was a big thing and the pass rush. We need to improve that and then as a defense we will be better.”

What was it like to have Jonathan Vilma back in the starting lineup?

“He was back in the lineup in Tampa so it was just like any other game. It’s always good to have him out there. You can’t have too many good football players out on the field at once.”

Do you have feel like all of the defensive players are on the same page?

“I came in this morning with Jonathan and we watched the film. You can’t question the effort from these guys. We are all together but we have to come together as a group even more as everyone is taking their shots at us. We know what we are capable of doing and we have to start executing. No more excuses and just play Saints football.”

How hard was it to watch that film this morning?

“It was tough. I am my worst critic and like I said I should have had that interception. There are a few others plays I wish I could take back and would have made. I know that’s how other guys feel too. They wish they could take a few plays back but that’s how it goes. You can’t get those plays back. The only thing that you can do is improve this week and play better this Monday.”

Where do you feel the defense needs help in? Is it personnel, coaching or motivation?

“I definitely don’t think it’s motivation because this is the National Football League. Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays - that’s enough motivation for anyone. Nothing is taken for granted. It’s our job to stop them and we have to do that. As far as coaching and the personnel, that’s not my area to critique. I am a player and whatever people above me think that is a question for them.”

Will you try to talk to the guys more this week – maybe fire them up more during practices?

“I just tell the guys ‘there’s still a lot of football left. We won two games and we need to get back on that winning streak again. This is tough. None of us have been in this situation but tough times don’t last, tough people do. We need to keep fighting and grinding. The one thing I love about this defense is that we are fighters and grinders. We are going to finish games and we are going to finish this season”