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Dennis Allen on Julio Jones: 'He's one of the best receivers' in the NFL

New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen

Conference Call with Local Media

Friday, January 1, 2016

Is Julio Jones about as difficult of a matchup as you're going to find in the NFL?

"Yes. That's kind of the short answer to it. He's obviously, if not the best receiver in the National Football League, he's one of the best receivers in the league. He presents a lot of problems. A lot of times, you'll find guys that may have speed, may have size, may have the ability to be a good route runner, may have the ability to catch the ball, but this is a guy that possesses all of those traits. He's got exceptional speed to go down the field and great ball skills to make the play down the field. The thing that (might be) the most unknown about him is just his ability to run a route. At that size and speed, to be able to sink his hips and be able to get in and out of a route is just pretty remarkable. He is definitely a tough matchup for us."

Delvin (Breaux) did a pretty good job in their first matchup and I know that he was shadowing him quite a bit. How do you decide when it is a good matchup to use Delvin Breaux to shadow him and when not to?

"There are a lot of things that go into that (decision), such as who are the other receivers on the team and who are they going to be matched up against, and then there's the thought process on how they use the guy and where they put him. In certain games, like against Detroit, we took (Brandon) Browner and matched him up on Calvin Johnson and had help over the top. There are a bunch of factors that go into it. We do that on a weekly basis. Some weeks we feel like the matchup is the best thing to do. Some weeks we kind of play left and right and determine what we're going to do with the safety based on what they're doing."

Why you haven't done that more often with Brandon Browner? It seems like that has been a successful key to him in the past, to match up with those big guys and then have help over the top.

"I think you have to look at the whole package and what you have from a game plan standpoint. Like I said, who is he matching up against and who are the other guys on the field? There are a lot of things that go into that decision on what you do and how you match those guys up. Each week we have gone in and tried to put the best game plan together, as far as what gives our guys the best chance of success. Sometimes we have played really solid and have been able to do that. Our issue has really been that we play well but we have the tendency to give up the big play, and that is the thing that we have been preaching. We've got to eliminate those things."

Kenny Vaccaro credited you with helping to teach him a lot of the finer points of playing safety this year. What did you see that was really key for him this year?

"To me, the biggest thing is that Kenny took it upon himself this year to really become a pro. That is what I have seen out of him. I have seen tremendous growth from him, just in understanding football and really working hard to, not just try to play whatever the call is, but really try to understand how the offense is trying to attack us. I have seen a lot of growth out of him and I think that as he continues to do that, he'll continue to grow. I have said this before – he reminds me, (and is) very similar, to where Roman Harper was when I coached Roman when he was a fairly young player. I believe it was his third year in the league when I started coaching him. It is more about the player and their understanding of what it takes to be a pro, more so than it is my ability as a coach to try to get them better. I think he is the one that deserves the credit."

Being a pro in what sense? Work ethic or study habits?

"It is more about the study habits. It is more about being able to see the big picture, because every time the offense breaks the huddle, they're telling you a story. It is just a matter of whether we are reading the book or not. I think he has gotten better at getting some of the pre-snap tips that kind of give him a clue as to what types of plays he's going to get."

Is the Roman Harper comparison a good one, as far as how he is used? I remember those six fumble seasons or those eight sack seasons for Roman. Is that the kind of style of player Vaccaro could be?

"You kind of hate to get into the comparison deal, but yet at the same time I see them as similar players. Both can be productive players. Some of the skillsets and the things that Kenny has, with his ability to blitz (and) with his ability to play in the run game, I see a lot of similarities."

Do you feel like you've shown enough growth and promise with this defense to be able to continue in this job going forward?

"I don't even think about that. That is not my concern at all. My concern is how are we going to get this group of guys to go out and play to the best of our ability against Atlanta on Sunday. We'll worry about next season after that last horn goes off in the Atlanta game, and then that's when we'll start working on getting better for next year."

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