San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Chip Kelly
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
What is your impression of the Saints defense?
"They have had a few injuries, especially in the back end. I think the defense starts itself with the guys up front. I think Cameron Jordan's one of the best defensive linemen in the league. He can cause a lot of problems. He should have our attention for everybody on our offensive line in terms of what he is and what he can generate. I think they are getting good play out of (Nick) Fairley. It's a good front and again, (Kenny) Vaccaro's another guy who you have to know where he is. They do such a good job of moving him around. Rafael Bush who I knew from college is one of the premier safeties in the league. So, I think it's a very good defense."
Is this a very different scheme and system than the one you prepared for last year when you were coaching Philadelphia?
"Not really. I think there's some similarities because Dennis (Allen) was on staff. I know Rob (Ryan) ran the defense, but there are still some similarities. There are some differences, but there are a couple of things that are similar. It's not drastically different. It's not like going from a true 3-4 defense to a defense with all four down (linemen). We had some four down (linemen) last year (when the Eagles played them)."
What pops out to you about Nate Stupar and Craig Robertson?.
"Just tough, hard-nosed football players. Craig was with a couple of our guys on our defensive staff in Cleveland. They have great respect for him in terms of how he prepares for the game and how he plays the game and then Nate's one of those prototypical Penn State linebackers, tough, hard-nosed, physical, very fundamentally sound. You're not going to fool (them). You can tell both of those guys have very good instincts."
The Saints seemed to commit to the run more last week against one of your divisional foes. How much of an eye-opener for you was that coming off of a bye?
"I just think every week in the NFL you try to take away what the other team does well. Obviously going into the game with Russell (Wilson) being a little banged up you would think going into it you were going to try to rely on the running game. I think Dennis (Allen) had a good plan for it."
How much of a struggle is that for your defense knowing that they've had some problems defending the run?
"When you're going against Drew Brees, who is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, and his ability to get them in and out of proper plays, to attack a defense, that's certainly going to be a challenge for us."
When you make the change to Colin Kaepernick what were you trying to get out of him that you might not have gotten out of Blaine Gabbert?
"I just think and we said earlier, we'd rotate anybody that's available at running back that can play, anybody that's available at wide receiver that can play, anybody that's available on the offensive line, same thing. We made some maneuvers in there getting Josh Garnett into the lineup. Really we're just inconsistent on the offensive side of the bal. We're looking for a spark. Not all of our struggles on the offensive side were Blaine's fault. We just felt that we could try another quarterback in there. Colin was getting healthy. He was competing with Blaine for the starting job in training camp, but got hurt in camp and missed a lot of time and wasn't really ready to go at the start of the season. I think he's worked really hard in his rehabilitation and has progressed as the season's gone along. We just felt it was an opportunity to jumpstart what we're trying to do offensively."
Without going into the national spotlight going on with him, what are some of the things you've had to do to try to keep the team focused and not pay attention to some of the outside noise?
"We haven't had any challenges. I think our players and Colin handled it very well after the first preseason game against Green Bay. Not our first preseason game, but the first preseason where it came out that he was protesting. He addressed the team. He was very straightforward and forthright with all the players on the team. Our players understand and recognize his right to do what he's done and continues to do. Not everyone has partaken with him, some players but not the whole team, but they understand and recognize his right to do it and it hasn't been an issue for us at all since that meeting we had on that Sunday after that preseason game against Green Bay.
You love offense and when you see the Saints offense what are some of the similarities that you see that you like to do?
"I'm a fan of what Sean's (Payton) done in his career in the National Football League and then when you look at, again, I think Drew's (Brees) is one of the greatest all-time quarterbacks to ever play the game. His statistics will back that up. Whenever you get a chance to talk to Drew, he's a student of the game. There's a guy who loves offense, loves attacking defenses, loves trying to find weaknesses, loves trying to exploit it. So, I think what they do from a personnel standpoint in playing a lot of guys, I think in the distributions to all the different players they have in getting everyone involved, whether it be running backs, tight ends, receivers. They have a multitude of play-makers and they make you defend the entire field. So it's a challenge when you're playing against them, but a lot of fun to watch when you aren't playing against them."
I read a story in the San Jose Mercury News that you met Drew somewhere at the Super Bowl. Was that your first time talking to him and how did that conversation come about?
"We just happened to be at the same function together. That's how it came about. We were both at a function, but I had talked to Drew before. We had played him twice when I was in Philadelphia, once in the playoffs and once in the regular season. That wasn't the first time I had talked to him."
Was that the first time that Drew had a chance to really pick your brain?
"Yes, but I don't think he was picking my brain as much as I was trying to pick his."