New Orleans Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Eli Manning is an experienced quarterback, but he does seem to make an odd play. Do you tell your defense to be on the lookout for that to capitalize on that?
"The big thing with Eli is that I think he's playing very, very well. I think he's having a very good season. He leads the National Football League in the most number of deep shots. He leads the National Football League in deep completions. They're able to get big chunk plays because you do have an experienced quarterback. Their offensive coordinator (Kevin Gilbride) and I are very good friends. We started together at the Houston Oilers in 1990. He was my offensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills. I've gone against him in Pittsburgh. I've gone against him in Jacksonville. I've gone against him at the Giants. I know him inside out. I close my eyes with the offense and I see Jimmy Smith running that route, Keenan McCardell from Jacksonville running this route as you see Victor Cruz and (Hakeem) Nicks and (Mario) Manningham all doing those same things, so Eli has done a very good job in being able to get the ball in the playmaker's hands. What we need to try to do is minimize his shots, limit those explosive plays and do as well as we can by keeping them on the line of scrimmage. I think they're a very, very well-coached team. I have a lot of respect for Tom Coughlin for a lot of years. There were a lot of years I was in Tennessee and he was in Jacksonville and then when I was at the Redskins in the division and him with the Giants. He asked me to talk about going down there to interview with him at that time and I ended up going to the Redskins, so this is a well-coached team, a very good quarterback, a top echelon quarterback in the league. We're going to have to play very good and one of our better games on defense"
When you look at the red zone defense are you more concerned with the percentage or the number of possessions that have been in the red zone?
"If you take a look at it, we've always been a pretty good red zone team wherever I've been. This year and I never like to make an excuse, (but with) not as many reps in training camp and the offseason as you'd like, we've given up too many touchdowns down there. That's where we've done a good job in the past, minimize the penetrations, don't let very many opportunities go down there. Once they're down there, kicking a field goal is okay. Rushing a field goal and getting after those…we have some good field goal rush guys on our team. That's what you have to do. We went through a stretch there where we would have a breakdown there or we would be unaware of something happening there, ball hit us and we drop it. The last couple of weeks, we've really done a better job down there. We really have to continue, when teams get down there, we have to make them kick field goals and if you make them do that, you're going to be in games with Drew Brees. I guarantee you that if you can take the seven and turn them into threes, you're always going to be in the games."
How do you think the fact that there running backs are a little depleted will affect their game plan?
"They're going to do the same thing. I close my eyes and see year after year after year a different person in that spot and they're going to do what they understand how to do, going about things, have a lot of respect for the backs that they do have. They maximize the skills. That's the one thing about a Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride team. They're going to take the things that a particular athlete does, fit them into their deal, but then maximize those things and only ask them to do certain things. If this running back is that type of way, he'll run that type of run. If this running back is versed in some of those other things than they'll run a different style of run. But it's all within their system. Hopefully we can recognize that. It's kind of like here come's a fastball, here comes a changeup, here comes a curveball. Each time around a running back comes into a game it's a little different style. We do that here. Sean (Payton) does a great job here of maximizing what Pierre (Thomas) does, Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory and Darren Sproles. You have to recognize that too, because there are certain things you don't have to play, you don't have to defense when a certain guy's in there. Can you process that and jump on the things they are going to do then you have a better chance of playing defense when you can recognize those things and they don't catch you off guard."
You have some new guys and some injuries you've fought. How can a big play like in Atlanta, jumpstart things?
"Confidence is contagious. In that respect, our guys have done a really good job in a lot of situations throughout the course of the year. We let one get out of the gate earlier in the year in the same identical situation at Saint Louis and I wasn't very happy about that particular play. They have not liked my approach to talking about that play. I was real proud about what we saw and how we saw the play they were getting ready to build in a real crucial time of the game and you know that play that we end up on the fourth down play would not have had a chance if Jo-Lonn Dunbar hadn't made such a good play on third down. Those back-to-back plays were huge plays and gave a chance for the offense to get the ball back and win it in overtime. It's never just one play, but you'd always point to what is the most signifcant play. Those were significant plays in overtime. The fact that we played and turned them away twice in overtime, very few times do you see a chance in overtime to send them back out there the second or third time. Typically somebody's going to get in field goal range to win the game. We had to get them off the field two times. Hopefully that's contagious and hopefully we continue to improve on that."
Is Jo-Lonn getting talked about enough for the job he's done in replacing Jonathan?
"I don't' know from out there, because I really don't pay attention to what's out there. You keep a secret and let it stay here as long as possible. We've had a lot of respect for him since I've gotten here. It didn't' take me very long to figure out how sharp and smart he was. Joe Vitt and I have kind of made a career of it all the years we've been in the league of smart, tough guys. As I said before, we all have warts. I have warts, you have warts, we all do. Jo-Lonn Dunbar's sharp. He is tough as nails and he won't back down from a fight on the line of scrimmage, down the field or whatever. We're really proud of what he's been able to do and not miss a beat in that respect of changing the style of defense we want to play, because we want versatile players. Joe Vitt does a really good job as you watch and see. We're not patterned here and built here just because the next guy on the depth chart goes in. We play so many packages in linebacker defenses, all those linebackers are cross-trained. Jon Vilma may be the only one that plays one linebacker positions. The rest of them have to be able to play all three or four of the linebacker positions we have. We're able to play a lot of different things because we have smart, tough guys. Jo-Lonn's one of them."
Does it help that now he's playing what he calls his natural position?
"Yes, it has helped him and to his credit, never complained once, maybe when we were playing him in a tough position. He's had to play the strongside linebacker for the first couple years I've been here. In fact the last preseason game in '09 and I tease him all the time is that if we to give him the Heisman, we would have given him the Heisman after that preseason game, because he had 18 or 19 tackles in that last preseason game against the Dolphins. He just played lights out. He said if you play me at my natural position, I can do that all the time. It's kind of the give and take back and forth with him, but he's never once complained about where he plays. He understands his role. He understands where he fits into it. Jon Vilma's our defense captain. He's our Drew Brees on our side of the ball. Jo-Lonn will fit in anywhere and now he fits in there because JV hasn't been able to answer."
I notice receivers have never seemed to have a lot of big games against you. Is that a point of emphasis?
"It is a point of emphasis. It is a point of emphasis. We make this game way too complicated. My father who is still living, I'll have a voice mail after every game. He'll be talking about several things and thinks he knows everything and that he knows a lot about secondary even though he doesn't. What he does though is that if you don't let the ball go over your head in a hurry you'll be in every single game. Everywhere I've gone I've tried to repair or rebuild defenses is I've attacked the secondary first. When I got here, the secondary was struggling. You change the people, improve the people or backup and we play as you watch us play it all the guys like Gruden razz me on film, you see us play inordinately deep to prevent the big play from going over the top. If you don't' let the ball go over the top it will be a slugfest down to the wire, but these teams that let the ball go over the head in a hurry, let one dynamic receiver beat them over the top over and over again, you have to be kidding me. Why not put two, three guys on him. If we have to put two or three guys on him somebody else has to stand by themselves so we can change what you want to do. What the Giants do a good job of is they keep it spread out and they do a good job of self-scouting. They move the ball around to lots of different people. A veteran quarterback knows it's harder for defenses to zero in on one guy when he can spread it around. Drew does it here as well as anybody in ball. You ask a question to Pete (Carmichael Jr.) a while ago about Devery (Henderson) and (Robert) Meachem. When they were on a tear, all of a sudden defenses are very aware of those guys, so Drew sees that. Drew sees the coverage taking that person away in that position and what he'll do is for the next two or three weeks is get you to move back here, he'll feed the guy over here and it won't be very long before that guy is running by you again. Drew can manipulate that. Eli is good enough to manipulate that same thing. Right now if you take a look at the stats, they've attempted more deep balls than anyone in the league and completed more deep balls than anyone in the league. We have to do a good job of that. We have to do a good job of minimizing those shots down the field."
New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
What were some things you saw in the Eagles-Giants game that appealed to you that you have to attack in this game?
"The first thing is you have to account for their defensive line. They're not specialty guys. These are guys that are good at both rushing the passer and defending the run. Their linebackers are physical, their safeties are physical, and the corners have good ball skills. They're going to challenge us. We just have to be ready to play our best game."
What do you guys have to do to prevent turnovers in this game?
"Obviously we have to do a good job of protecting the quarterback and then make good decisions with the football. They do a good job up at the line of tipping the balls and their corners have great ball skills so we have to be accurate with the throws."
Do you think it's interesting that Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson haven't been as much of factors as they were early in the season?
"No, I think it's kind of been the flow of how the game has gone. We still consider them a big part of this offense. They've done a great job blocking in the run game for us. Their time will come."