New Orleans Saints Offensive Line/Running Game Coach Aaron Kromer
Monday, October 22, 2012
Opening statement:"I thought the game yesterday against Tampa Bay really showed the organization's fortitude and resolve. We're down 14-0, we're 1-4 going in to the game, and there are a lot of teams that would have folded then. You saw our guys step up and continue to make plays and trust that they could win the game and that's what happened. Drew (Brees) started getting hot and we started scoring more points. Lance Moore did a wonderful job on third-down for us in the game. It was good to have him back coming off an injury, a big game for us. We were three for three in the red zone. (That) made a huge difference in the game, being able to get down there and score. Defensively, with Malcolm Jenkins running down that long play, that play could have changed the tempo and the momentum we had going. That's the kind of team we have. They're not going to give up, they're going to keep fighting. He went down and made that play when we had the goal line stand. That was a huge turning point in the game I thought. I am proud of the team and happy for the organization. (Now we're) moving on to Denver."
How much will you miss this?
"I will miss this. I enjoy this. It's all part of it and I enjoyed the process."
Has this only enhanced your appetite for a head position?
"Yes it does, definitely."
Has anything surprised you about having that title?
"I was in anticipation of most everything that happened in the situation. Like I said before, just paying close attention to guys that I work with and mentors. Sean Payton has done a wonderful job with this organization and I just tried to pay close attention to what he did. I wouldn't say I was surprised by anything. It was definitely an unprecedented situation and tough. Coming out with these last two and seeing the improvement of the team, the guys sticking together and the resolve, as I spoke of earlier, not only in one game but in a six-game span, just speaks loudly for the character in our organization. I am just excited to be a part of it to be honest. I know we're 2-4 but we see the progress that we're making. We're on an up-hill battle but at the same time every week we are showing improvement. We are getting better in all areas and it's because of hard work and guys sticking in and staying together."
Could you grade yourself on your performance?
"I don't think it's my position to grade myself. I would say that the team is moving in the right direction and that's what we're looking for."
How has this opportunity made you better as an assistant coach?
"Well, just seeing the big picture and understanding how all things work and not being selfish in your own world that you live in on a day-to-day basis I'm sure is the difference."
Outside of the locker room, you were the face of the organization during this period. What do you think about the transition when you go back to your old job as the offensive line coach?
"Well, you pointed out two different things. You said outside the locker room so we're talking about these press conferences. Within in the building, we talk about it constantly and we really mean and we're being truthful to the fact that this team is a group and is a family and they work together. We have many talented assistant coaches on this staff and you could put a lot of the guys in this position. With this team that we have, the leadership in the locker room, the talent and the organization as a whole starting with Mr. (Tom) Benson, it's a tight-knit group and it's going to stay together."
Other than the players, you are the only person that has spoken on behalf of the Saints during this period. What has that been like as you look to step back down?
"Well, I viewed it as an opportunity to voice what is really happening in the building and I think I have and we have as a group. It's been a good experience and I am glad it happened."
Was there any official transfer of power? Did you change offices during this time?
"No, I stayed in my office. With our staff and the tight-knit group that we have, Joe (Vitt) is going to take over and we're excited to have him back. It was great to see him last night. The more people we can get back in our family and getting back to full speed, the better we'll be."
Did you feel different coming in to work this morning?
"I was excited about the win and I couldn't wait to grade the tape to find out where we can improve."
Scott Shanle said that even though there is a change, the message doesn't change because it came from Sean Payton. Could that help make this a seamless transition?
"Absolutely. I said that a few times throughout this process, and we made a big point of it when the first game of the season started, that the message isn't changing just the messenger. Now, it's changing back."
How much of a heads up play was it for a player to get his hands on a guy and get him out of bounds in the back of the endzone?
"Definitely. Like they'll tell you, they're trained to do that. In our red zone work, we work specifically on situational football and that's something that's said and talked about all the time by Coach Spags (Steve Spagnuolo). He does a good job with that."
How did you feel about the running game yesterday?
"Obviously, it is not up to the standard that we're looking for, the running game that is. What it is, is there were some positive runs, what we had was four negative runs that cost our yards per carry and also hurt the drives of course. We have to eliminate the negative runs that we had yesterday and we can do that. We're definitely going to put all hands on deck to make sure that we get this thing fixed."
On third-and-three at the end when you went outside to Darren Sproles, did you feel that you couldn't get it by going inside at that point?
"Well, third-and-three at the end of a game like that, that was a third-down play that we had designed. We had run it to the left earlier in the game and had a good gain. The thing that happened, when you study the tape, is our receiver on the outside was not ready for the ball to be snapped. He was checking to see if he was on the line or off the line as I saw it so the ball was snapped and he stood there. One of the main blocks on the play wasn't made and that's why we didn't get it."
What do you think is happening with the offensive line where you are not running the ball as well as this franchise is accustomed to?
"I just think we need to keep timing it, keep working it out. We played against some very formidable defenses. In the past we've been able to run the ball. Throughout these six weeks, we've been down in games and we decided to throw it more than run it. We haven't had as many reps, we probably have the least amount of reps running the ball as anyone in the NFL. I understand that and we understand, as a group, that Drew Brees gets hot and we're going to throw the ball. Yesterday, the calls were made and we made some of those runs and we didn't make some of those runs. We have to get that fixed."
How do you guard against this transition from you to Joe Vitt being a distraction? You have built some momentum, how do you keep this from knocking you off course?
"Like we said before, it's the same message. Joe does a great job and everybody in the organization knows Joe Vitt is a great coach and a great person. We keep saying it over and over, and I know there is one person that comes in here and talks on the microphone, but Joe Vitt and I and Sean Payton all have the same message."