Atlanta Falcons Defensive Tackle Jonathan Babineaux
Conference call with local media
Thursday, 22 September, 2016
So I think you and Matt Schaub were the only ones on the roster back in 2006 for the Hurricane Katrina homecoming game. What do you recall from that contest? Just the emotions and everything?
* *"From what I remember, (there were) a lot of emotional things going on prior to the game. Being in the Superdome you could definitely feel the energy from the people/crowd that were in there that night."
What was it like not knowing, obviously focusing on your own things but just with the hurricane and everything? Not knowing the future of one of your division rivals was going to be at that time.
* *"Collectively as a city you felt bad for them and what they endured at that time. Hoping that they can regain and get back into their daily transition of what they do on a daily basis. I think the game revamped that city."
What do you think it did for the National Football League? Especially considering the circumstances at that time?
* *"I thought it was huge to come out and play that game and to be energized off of football alone. People who came out that had to endure the hurricane suffering great loses throughout the process and to come back and have that game and to have that revival from having a football game played that night. I think it really revived that city."
What gets overlooked a lot actually is what it was like to be on the visitor's sideline. I am sure as a football player and a human being you had some conflicting emotions because you were really trying to win and you were early in your career and trying to establish yourself. At the same time you probably saw the big picture. How did you kind of balance that in your mind at the time or were you just tunnel vision?
* *"I was really (using) tunnel vision. I had a job to do that night. I knew that the city and the team were very emotional through this game and through the process of it. I think it was just them wanting to come out and display the best they could do and put on for their city and to give that city life again."
Did the Saints feed of the energy of the 2006 Superdome reopening game?
"I don't think we were bothered by the crowd or anything else. I just think we didn't play that well that night. I think the Saints came out fired up and they were ready. They actually got the game going in a positive direction on the first punt they block it for a touchdown. That really got the momentum on their side throughout the game and it just trickled on down from there."
Do you ever get annoyed at how often you see Steve Gleason's blocked punt?
"Not at all, I do not get to see it that often, of course the NFL Network is running a special on it (right now). There will be shots and memories from that game that will be brought up in the next few days, but that happened in 2006, we can't do anything about that now. What we can do is look forward to the opportunity to play against a great team this weekend and it is a great rivalry game and it is going to be battle tested from every point of the game, offense, defense (and) special teams. I look forward to a great challenge."
What have you seen about the Saints rushing attack, it's been pretty unproductive?
"I cannot say that so far, but I know their rushing attempts have not been where they want them to be. I mean obviously through the first games they lost, could have been the situation where they had to pass the ball a lot more than they wanted to, but again Drew Brees won't have no problem throwing that ball anytime Sean Payton gives him the opportunity too, but my guess is they are going to try and get back on track with their running game this week and (I'm) looking forward to a balanced offensive attack from them this week."
What have you seen out of the Saints offensive line?
"They look the same as they did in the past, of course they have some injuries last week. Who knows where people will be playing this week, but we have to go into the game prepared like everybody's going to play."
What is it like going up against Senio Kelemete?
"It's very competitive between us two, he brings it,(and) I bring it. It's like two giants clashing in the rings. We try and make the best of every play and have fun and enjoy it while we are doing it."
Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn
Conference Call with Local Media
Thursday, September 22, 2016
What do you see out of the Saints offense so far?
"The biggest thing is that you just know how explosive they are. I thought that just going against the guys through the years, the ability to use the tight ends, the running backs (stands out) – it just seems like everybody gets involved. That can make it really challenging. When there are tight ends that can make catches, obviously the wideouts do, but the running backs have always been a big part of their package. Then, you have a sense for the speed, certainly with (Brandin) Cooks and the big plays he's able to do. We've got our hands full, we know that. We know how explosive they can be, in terms of moving the chains and getting first downs, and obviously they can score easily on a lot of folks. We recognize that and we know we have our hands full."
As a defensive-minded coach, what did you see when you looked back at what the Saints were able to do in Week Two, especially at the cornerback position?
"I think that is one that is not spoken about this week, and I think it is a totally relevant topic. It really comes down to being really disciplined and really fundamentally sound. That is when it kind of shows, when a guy goes down and the next man steps up and has really good technique and is really disciplined, and knowing how to feature guys in the best way. I have a lot of respect for (Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen) in knowing that next man's up. Not only did they play and function, but they played really well to hold them to that few points. I just don't think that you can speak to that enough. I came away very impressed after watching that video of the job that they did in getting ready. It really speaks to the players and their confidence in their teammates."
Is (Falcons wide receiver) Julio Jones practicing today or is he limited?
"He is going to participate in the walkthrough portion and then he will not participate in the active practice today. He is going to get some work. He is definitely on the improvement heading up, but he is not going to get the full load today. He got a good bit of the walk through work today."
You anticipate him being 100% for Monday night?
I know you weren't there 10 years ago (for the reopening of the Superdome), but how do you address that with your team and the historical perspective?
"The historical perspective – I think everybody has their timeline to recognize where they were when events like that took place. Although I wasn't part of the team when the Superdome reopened, any fan of any sport certainly recognized the energy that was in the building on that night. With that said, all the work this week has got to be focused right back into the team, just like theirs is as well. I know they'll have the added dimension of their crowd there but all of the focus has to be on the team, in terms of us getting ready. They've got plenty of things for us to look at this week. We recognize the environment coming on Monday night. It is going to be a special one. Honestly, we are pumped to be a part of it."
Do you brace for that initial emotion and enthusiasm by the crowd, and if you can handle that, you'll be in good shape?
"We will not talk about withstanding. What we will talk about is that it has got to come down to us and our technique. We know the uniqueness of the night and the historical perspective of it but we're really trying to bring it back to the players. When that ball is kicked off and it is now between the white (lines) and the guys, that is where we have got to execute. We know that the communication is certainly a factor in this game because of the energy that this crowd will have. Past that, in today's practice, we really focused on our team and what we need to get ready. We are looking forward to being a part of it, to be honest with you. Getting a chance to play in games where the crowd is unique and there is a buildup for it, honestly, it is a real honor and a privilege to get to coach and play in games where it is rocking and loud. It is why we love to compete, because you get to be in moments like that."
What were you doing at that time 10 years ago?
"I can remember that in 2005, I was at the Dolphins. I was at the Dolphins both years. I was part of a team that ended up playing one of the Saints games over at LSU. I remember how different that was. The next year we didn't play (New Orleans) but I was still at Miami at the time. I think everybody recognized the significance of the reopening and kind of what the team meant to the community. I can't recall who we played that week ourselves but I think everybody remembers a unique moment like that."
Your tight end group played very well last week against the Raiders; the development of (Austin) Hooper and Jacob Tamme, how has that gone so far?
"We have been pleased with him (Hooper) thus far. We thought (he) was going to be a real factor for us. He has length, he has got a range and he is a little faster than you would think, in terms of covering him. It's really that range that when a ball may be thrown up or outside where he can go extend to go get it. We know, like most teams, like the team you guys are covering with New Orleans – when the ball gets spread around, that can make it real challenging. It goes to tight ends, to running backs and to receivers. Having him come through, we were hopeful for that to happen. We knew last year that Jacob (Tamme) was kind of our feature tight end. Now that we have another guy that can be counted on in third downs and down in the red zone, extending drives and has the speed and ball skills to run seam routes down the middle, that's a weapon. He is certainly learning as he is going. He is a real football junkie guy. He is the type of guy that is in the meeting rooms early and asking questions to the tight ends coach, and really just trying to establish himself as he is getting started. We are pleased with his progress so far, we really are."
How much flexibility does that give you to be able to play more in the 12-personnel package this year, as opposed to last year?
"It is. It is a significant portion. We like that personnel group. It allows some of the run game, the keepers and the play-action to go and work a little bit different. You can utilize some different formations. We love the speed that he brings and then we added (Mohamed) Sanu in as well. We felt like with some of the matchups in 12 (personnel), Julio (Jones) is the factor to deal with, he is the x-factor but a number of these other guys when their number is called, they are totaling coming through. Some teams will play unique coverage towards Julio (Jones). When those opportunities happen, there could be some looks for some other guys. We are pleased to see that (Austin) Hooper is a guy who can take advantage of a look like that and make a defense pay. That is definitely by design. Not all teams play it that way but a number of them do."
What is it about this rivalry that has allowed the visiting team to have so much success in the other team's building?
"I know it has been a fantastic rivalry through the years. The NFC South just has some guys that are going to battle for it. I don't know if it's because the area between Louisiana, down through Georgia, up through North Carolina and Florida (is such a football region). You know how big football is and you know how big some of the college rivalries are, maybe that has just carried forward over the last 15 years or so. Atlanta and now Carolina being there and Tampa Bay, where it is just kind of part of our culture down here. You can recognize that too with living in Louisiana and knowing that region. The region that we're in, I think we're really fortunate that we live in a state where football is really important. That goes from high school ball, college ball and into our world too. I think that would have to have a factor, kind of the culture that we live that football is way up there on the list."
Would you have been at the Dolphins facility watching (the return to the Superdome) live or did you just catch highlights of it?
"It was played on a Monday night which is a big gameplan night. You may have it on in the background. Certainly, for the start of it, you want to stop what you are doing and watch. That was a big moment, knowing how hard so many people had to work, the sacrifices that were made, kind of the hardships and people enduring. They showed a lot of grit and toughness and the community they were coming back to. Although I can't recall the game and the moment from that night from 10 years ago, what I can remember is just the enthusiasm that the community had for the team."
I guess it may have been meaningful to Nick (Saban) too, given where he had come from just two years earlier?
"Yes, for sure. He'd (spent) significant time at LSU, and then for us to play (the Saints at LSU) when the team was moved out for a year and having to play games at different spots. Playing them at LSU that year prior, it just felt different. That was LSU's stadium. That's what the team had to do based on those circumstances. I think we all recognized how unique it was for them to be back exactly where they belonged."