New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan
Local Media Availability
Friday, September 25, 2015
With your defense going against (Drew) Brees every day in practice for years, was there some part of you that thought that he'd be able to play this weekend, just with how competitive he is, and how he has always been able to brush off injury before?
* *"I can't get into any of that. I don't know. We're just trying to focus on defense. We have our work cut out for us. These guys run every type of option there is, they run every type of zone-read. They have a great running attack, a big-time quarterback (Cam Newton) and an All-Pro tight end (Greg Olsen). To be honest, I never even notice, I'm just trying to get our defense going. I know what a competitor Drew is, but I have no answer for that. I am just working on defense."
When you look at this Panthers team, does it feel like kind of a different team than you played last year? Specifically, I am talking about their receiving core with Kelvin Benjamin out. You have a lot of guys that maybe aren't as well-known.
* *"Yes, but look, we had three pretty darn-good games, defensively, against Carolina before, and then with all of the chips on the line last year, they came in our house and put a whooping on us, on defense. They had different plays going, with their sub-personnel, with their three-receiver set, (and) they gave us all types of different plays. I think it is their schematics. They play with great discipline and toughness. No team is more committed to running the football. They've got a great screen game, and then they've got all of this other thing with an elite quarterback. This game is a very difficult one and it takes the upmost in preparations from our players and our coaches. (In regards to) their receiving core, injuries are part of the game. That is just the way it is. They have what they have out there. They have a talented roster just like we do. The bottom line is that we have to play great. We have to tackle well, we have to have great discipline in run fits and our eye discipline. It is going to take everything we got for a great Carolina offense."
Is Cam Newton one of the quarterbacks that give you more of a headache to game-plan for? Does his size factor into that, just being a hard guy to take down?
"I think there is no question. His skill set is unique to anyone in the league, I think. He is very hard to tackle in this league. You can come clean on him but it doesn't mean that you're going to get him. We have seen that up close and personal. We play this guy a lot. We play him here twice a year but I have always seemed to play this guy since he's been in the league. He is a very touch matchup. He is a very hard guy to prepare for and I think that he is one of the finer quarterbacks in the league."
Just looking at your own defense, do you take positives out of last week's loss, seeing how they finished the game, especially getting those turnovers? It's almost like since you're finally forcing turnovers, it might break the seal and maybe more will come, because I know that you say that they seem to come in bunches.
* *"They do come in bunches. We have been working hard on it. The emphasis is being made on it, that it is obviously something that we have to get better at. It is something that we have been working on. We're in a race to improve. That is what (Head Coach) Sean (Payton) always says. That is what we believe in. We're trying to get better each week and I thought we improved in some areas. We didn't win the game and that's the bottom line in this business so we have to keep getting better, and keep getting better quickly because this is a huge game here at Carolina. It is going to take our best, our best focus and our most physical game to date, for sure."
In trying to get to the quarterback last week, you kind of employed some speed rushing packages; does that help against a guy like Cam Newton? Cam Jordan was saying that that kind of helped against (Jameis) Winston but is Newton just a whole different animal?
"I think he's a different animal. You can put whatever (you do), the racers, the small athletes, (and) the quicker guys in there, and they might not be strong enough to bring him down. The bigger guys probably won't be quick enough so you have to do an unbelievable job. I think Bill Johnson, our defensive line coach, has done a better job than any coach in the league of having a good rush plan, to handle Cam Newton. I think it has been good. We've had success on him before. This guy is a special athlete and it takes special attention. We have to do a great job on him. I think it has to be our most disciplined week, if we're going to have success on defense. We have to because they have a great defense. That is one of the best defenses in football that we're going against as a team, so we have to be, (able) to match them. We have to be sound in what we do and be physical, play with emotion and toughness, and we have to get better each week. We're in a race to improve and we have to get that improved."
Do you change the defensive gameplan at all, knowing that it will probably rain a lot over the weekend and on Sunday? They play on grass too; do you change anything, other than wearing the right type of cleats?
"I think that comes from Sean (Payton). We're prepared for any situation that the weather comes in. Every little detail's taken into account when we go out to play a football game. I mean every detail, the playing surface, the type of shoes our guys wear, the ones that give them more flexibility, the ones that don't, every single detail is handled by Sean. That's just the way it is. Some teams are not like that. Believe me, with some teams, we go out there and act as if we have never had a wet-ball drill in our life. Here, that does not happen. All the details are covered. We all know our plan. We all know how it is. If it's raining, we're going to be just fine. We will be ready to go. We have played these guys in the rain before. Whatever it is, we're prepared. We have gone through all of the situations and all of the scenarios."
Are you getting any sleep?
* *"No, absolutely none. That is just the truth."
New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael
Local Media Availability
Friday, September 25, 2015
How unusual is it for you to be preparing for a game without Drew Brees? Obviously, that has only happened one time since he has joined the Saints.
* *"Every week we put together our game plan and we feel good with the guys that are in this building. That is why they are here but obviously, it is different."
Considering how tough Drew's been over the years, never missing a start due to injury, his teammates seemed to think that he was going to play, was there a part of you guys as coaches that thought that he'd be able to play as he always does?
* *"As coach stated earlier in the week, it was day-to-day. The determination was made today but, listen, the guy's tough as nails and we're going to do what's best for the team."
Looking at the Panthers game, how challenging is this defense? Obviously, they've got one of the best defenses in the league right now. What kind of special challenges do they bring?
"They have been a top 10 defense for years now. The biggest thing is that they are such a competitive defense that is physical. That is what they bring to the table."
When you are preparing to play a game in what will probably be a heavy rainstorm, what do you do differently, besides maybe changing the cleats?
* *"We obviously can't simulate the rain. It is just going to be something that we have to deal with, if it comes Sunday."
With Brees sitting out this game, does the running game take on any added importance, or do you approach it like any other week?
* *"We're approaching it like any other week. When we have been at our best, we have run the football well here. It is the same as any other week."
Does having C.J. Spiller back give you a little more confidence in that ground game?
* *"One thing that Sean (Payton) will make sure we do is have a role for all of those guys. We'll see how the flow of the game goes."
For Luke (McCown) specifically, what is the challenge for a quarterback preparing to make his first start in several years? I know that he prepares every week like he is going to play but obviously, he hasn't actually started a game since 2011.
* *"Like you said, he prepares very week. You guys see him out at practice. He is behind the play every time that it is being snapped. He does a great job getting the mental reps so we're looking forward to the opportunity with him."
Is there some sort of comfort level going into a game with no Drew Brees but you have a veteran who has backed him up since 2013, and obviously knows the people around the locker room just as well as Brees. Does that help make you feel a little bit better at game-planning heading into Sunday?
"Obviously, Luke is in every meeting and we see how he operates. Obviously, we are very comfortable with him, for him having been here for a couple years. He has been here because we feel like he possesses those traits."