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Crennel, Cassel Preview Sunday's Contest in New Orleans

Chiefs' Head Coach Romeo Crennel and Quarterback Matt Cassel spoke with the New Orleans media on Wednesday on a conference call


Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Romeo Crennel

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What would you say were the main reasons why your team has struggled so far this season?

"I think our team is similar to your team defensively. Teams have been able to move the ball and score points and we haven't been able to stop them enough. Offensively, we have had spurts and done well in spurts and then other times we haven't done as well. We have turned the ball over a couple times. Those things always impact the game."

Do you think the Saints look differently on offense without Sean Payton calling the plays?

"I look at the players and the personnel and they are running the same plays. Drew (Brees) is still the quarterback and he gets rid of the ball. You know the guys that he likes and he likes the playmakers in (Darren) Sproles and (Jimmy) Graham. You know the ball is going to those guys. I am not saying they look different, but anytime you lose your leader, that has an impact."

As a defensive coach, can you talk about how difficult it is to play an unorthodox offense like the Saints have the past two weeks?

"Anytime you play an option offense, defensively you have to make some adjustments and be able to handle everything that is involved in that option. You have to handle the dive, quarterback, pitch and then if you have a quarterback that can throw the ball you still have to handle the passing aspect of it. That doesn't allow you to do some things that you would normally do against a more conventional offense."

Is it hard for you to prepare for the Saints defense since they haven't faced a conventional offense in the regular season yet?

"Definitely. The only thing that we can do is go back and look at Coach (Steve) Spagnuolo and watch what he was doing as a coordinator. We know that he likes pressure. We definitely have to prepare for pressure."

Do you feel like the Saints are close to getting their defense together?

"Yes, anytime you face unconventional offenses you have to prepare for them and basically you have a short time to prepare. It's not like you are facing an offense that you are familiar with and have faced several times before. So some of the things you think should work don't work. The running ability of a quarterback has a huge impact. With a Cam Newton who can pull the ball down and run for a touchdown, that impacts you defensively. As you look at it, you might give up one or two plays that are killer plays but if you don't have a quarterback that can run then you are not giving up that kind of yardage. You have to separate it as you look at it because it's early in the season and you are facing unconventional offenses. You have to see what you can do against a conventional offense and then I think you can begin to make some more legitimate determinations."

With your defense struggling in the first two weeks, is it a big concern going against a Drew Brees-led offense?

"Definitely it is a concern because we haven't done a good job defensively. We have given up too many big plays and anytime you give up big plays, that's a field position change, that's a momentum change and so we have to try and eliminate those mistakes."

When you look at Pierre Thomas on film, what is the one thing that stands out most about him?

"How strong legged he is. He doesn't go down easy. He has some toughness and he is one of those guys that you have to tackle. All of your running backs are like that. You have to tackle all of those guys. They will not go down on their own. Sometimes when one guy thinks he has the tackle, he is just fooling himself. He needs more people to get those guys on the ground."

Does Pierre Thomas get enough credit nationally for just how tough he is to play against?

"I don't know what kind of credit he has been getting down there but just when I look at the film, I look at a tough runner. Having a guy like (Darren) Sproles around, Sproles makes a lot of the big plays in those third-down passing situations. Sometimes a guy like Pierre who is running the ball doesn't get the kind of publicity that Sproles gets. I think that all of them help make that offense go."

There's been so much discussion about the replacement officials, particularly after the last Monday Night Football game. What's your assessment of the replacement officials?

"I haven't had many opportunities to watch some of these other games. The only ones that I have been watching are the games we have been involved in and we haven't been close enough to have any controversial calls. I can't really comment on the group as a whole just in the games that we have had because we haven't been close enough, so we really haven't had any controversial calls in our games."

Have you seen a difference in Drew Brees without Sean Payton with the team as the Head Coach?

"No, Drew is a professional. He is a legitimate quarterback. He knows how to play the game. He knows what needs to be done. He can operate with whoever is calling the plays" 

Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassel

Conference Call With New Orleans Media

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is it difficult to prepare for the Saints defense knowing that they've played two different style offenses than what your team runs?

"There's no doubt.  Watching the first two games of the season, it's hard to get a feel for exactly how they would play a more conventional offense, which I'd say that we definitely are, especially considering that you had two very dynamic players in the backfield running the read-option and running a bunch of different stuff that for the most part is fairly new in the NFL.  When you watch them, you have to understand their personnel.  They've got great personnel.  I also think when you watch them in preseason and just watch some of (Steve) Spagnuolo's stuff from the past, you can see how dynamic they are on defense and (with) the pressures, the secondary pressure they bring, the blitzing and everything else.  You just have to be ready for such a combination of different things and different looks from their defense."

With the Saints defense facing the different styles of offense they've faced in the first two regular season games, how tough is it for them to face this style of offense?

"You've got two quarterbacks that basically can run the ball like running backs.  They're fast and they're explosive.  The run lanes that they create are much different than a normal offense just because you have to always account for that 11th guy on the field, which a lot of times with the quarterback position you don't have to do."

How frustrating has the start of your season been for you?

"The start of the season is definitely frustrating.  We're not where we want to be.  Obviously, starting 0-2 is not what any of us anticipated, but at the same time it is what it is.  We've got to try to get this thing going in the right direction.  I think really it just starts collectively putting a game together in which all phases play together.  Offensively, I think speaking for our side of the ball, we just have to do a better job of taking care of the football on a consistent basis, taking our shots and making sure we get good opportunities down the field."

It seemed like you guys were about even with the Falcons for most of the game before they ran away with it.  Is that part of the consistency you're talking about?

"There's no doubt.  We scored 17 points in the first half.  We start the second half with a great drive, a ten-play drive to go down and set up a field goal.  We miss the field goal and then from there it went downhill quickly in the third quarter.  We had a strip sack, a tipped interception, and at that point, especially against a team like the Falcons who were operating on all cylinders in terms of their offensive side of the ball, you didn't have any room for error and that's what we did.  Before you blink your eye, you're down by 20 points and that's not what we can do.  Last week, I just think there was inconsistency.  We had an opportunity again to put some points on the board before the half and make it a two-score game, and we failed to do that again with another turnover in the red zone.  Again, it's about us taking care of the ball, just being more consistent and getting ahead on first and second down as well, keeping ourselves out of third-and-long situations."

Can either team afford to start 0-3?

"You really don't want to.  Both of us I think are very eager to get our first win of the season."

Is it a must-win game this weekend?

"You just don't want to keep digging that hole because in the NFL, every team is great each and every week.  As you get late in the season, you want to be able to have the ability to either win or lose a game when it starts to count every single week in which you have to be perfect by the end of the season.  If you continue to dig yourself too much of a hole, it becomes a little bit more difficult."

The NFL has placed so much emphasis on player safety.  Are you concerned about player safety with these replacement officials?

"I don't really think much about it to be completely honest.  As a player, I go out and try to do my job to the best of my ability.  Whatever they call, we have to deal with.  For me to put a lot of energy and focus on that, it just takes away from doing your job to the best of your ability."

How is Dwayne Bowe doing?

"I think he's doing a great job.  He's worked very hard since he's come back.  He spent a lot of extra time with our receivers coach, coach (Brian) Daboll.  He's in here at 6:00 in the morning, but I think he's adapted well to the new system.  I was very surprised about how quickly he got caught up to speed.  Even when you look at it in the first game of the season, he was able to come in and contribute right away.  That's impressive considering he was only in camp for a week or so, a week and a half before that first game."

Do you feel like games have been a little more chippy with the first two games you played?

"I haven't really noticed it to be completely honest.  Again, as a player, when you start letting that affect you I think it takes away from your energy and what you're supposed to be doing out on the field.  Coach (Romeo Crennel) always reminds us that the officials are out there trying to do their job, and you can't let it affect you no matter what, because the minute you start screaming and yelling and you're upset with a call, then you're not focused on the next play or the next series.  You just have to deal with the circumstances because that's who's out there refereeing right now and you have to move forward with whatever they give you."

Have you ever played in the Superdome in your career?

"I haven't.  I think it's one of the only stadiums I haven't been at before so I'm super excited to be there.  I know it's a great atmosphere and I'm looking forward to hearing that song that comes on, (from) the Ying Yang Twins when I get there.  I keep hearing about it."

Where have you heard about it most and how did you hear about it?

"I think there are a lot of guys from New Orleans on our team, and also at the same time throughout my career I've heard a lot of different things from a lot of different players.  Also, whenever you watch their games, because they have a lot of primetime games, you get to see the atmosphere and the environment is an exciting environment to be in and play at as well."

Are you a Ying Yang Twins fan?

"I can't say that I actually am, but I do like that song.  It's pretty catchy."

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