New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with Local Media
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
What are your general impressions from the Monday night game?
"I think obviously we didn't play as well as we would have liked to in the first half of the game and then obviously the first drive of the third quarter we didn't play as well as we would have liked to. I thought our guys had a great week of preparation. I don't think our execution was as sharp as it needed to be on a couple of plays and I think they got a couple of explosive plays and kind of got us back on our heels a little bit and took us a while to recover. I was pleased with the way we responded there in the third quarter and into the fourth. I thought our defense rose up and made a few plays to give us a chance to kind of stay in the game. There are a couple plays in there that were kind of fluke plays. They hit the one play with the tight end and the receiver and Kenny (Vaccaro) kind of collide and they get a 45 yard gain and I thought that was a play (that) kind of turned the momentum of the game."
When those things happen are you always supposed to switch or is that a missed assignment?
"No, that was not a missed assignment at all it was just one of the things that can come up in man coverage. I think obviously there are different things you do based on the splits of receivers whether you're running some sort of combination or whatever, obviously that was a situation where we wouldn't be working together. That is just something that happens at times in man to man coverage and you have to be able to work through those things and kind of deal with them."
Hau'oli Kikaha didn't get as many snaps was that a game plan thing?
"Yes, I think this week we had a couple of things that we wanted to try to do a little bit differently. Specifically in our third down package and so that was more or less from a package standpoint and a schematic standpoint. We wanted to try something different."
What have you seen out of Kasim Edebali and Obum Gwacham on third downs?
"I think I've seen improvement out of both of those guys. I think the thing that both of them have is athleticism and some quickness and so we have tried to do some things to keep those guys on the move and get them on the move cause they are not really your traditional big powerful rushers. They're a couple guys that are going to win more on athleticism and movement."
Why has David Hawthorne not been on the field as much of late or is it more special teams?
"I think all those factors come into play. David Hawthorne's a guy I have a tremendous amount of respect for. He's been a real warrior in this league and for the Saints the last few years. He came off the injury and we had a lot of health at the linebacker position by the time he came back from injury and I think special teams plays a big factor in that, but we'll see as the last couple weeks play out who is available to us, but he is certainly a guy that I wouldn't (be) hesitant to put into the game if we were able to get him up on game day."
As far as the missed assignments in the Monday night game, is that part of the growing pains of installing new things? It seems like you guys have taken steps forward only to take steps backwards over these last four weeks.
"I think that's been a microcosm of where we've been defensively as a unit this year. When you play as many young guys as we play – I know at times we have had as many as six first year players, or maybe even more when you consider first and second year players, that have been on the field at one time. Anytime you play with that much youth, you are going to have some mistakes. I think that is a process of learning how to be a pro. Obviously, some guys learn that at a faster rate than others. Those are some of the growing pains that we are going through. I don't think that it is through a lack of effort or lack of trying. I just think that it has to do with this being the National Football League and you've got to be precise with everything that you do. It can't be almost right. It has to be exactly right because the good teams take advantage of it when you don't do it exactly right."
On that touchdown run by Detroit in the third quarter, did something get missed as guys were trying to get aligned?
"We didn't set that up like we needed to. Again, that is one of those things where if you don't fit things up exactly right versus a talented offensive football team, they hurt you with it. That is something that we're going to continue to work on and try to get better at. Hopefully, we will."
How has (Hau'oli) Kikaha's development been as the season has progressed?
"I think he's developed. I think, not unlike a lot of rookies, he was playing at a really good level and then he had the injury, and he's fighting through the injury, as well as fighting through the fact that he is coming to the end of a long 16-game season, which is more football than he's played in his lifetime. I think he's had to deal with a little bit of the ebbs and flows of being a rookie. I am not displeased with where he is. As a matter of fact, I'm pleased with where he is at. He just has to continue to work to get better on a daily basis. I think if he does that, I think he's going to turn into a pretty good football player."
What are some of the things that you've seen from Blake Bortles? What are some of the challenges of facing this Jaguars offense?
"I think this is a talented offensive football team. I think you can see a much improved quarterback this year. Obviously, I had Greg Olson on my staff up in Oakland. I think he does a heck of a job as an offensive coordinator, specifically as a quarterback guy. You can really see that him and Nathaniel Hackett have been doing a great job with Blake. You look at the weapons that they have around him with the receivers that they have and the youth that they have at the receiver position, as well as Julius Thomas at tight end. They've got a lot of offensive weapons and a lot of guys that they can get the ball to. I think they're playing at a high level offensively."
Is this the first time that you have matched wits with a coordinator that you know that well? Do you have to go against some of your own favorite tendencies?
"We're both going to try to look at tendencies that we have each shown. I don't think that having tendencies is a bad thing. If you have a tendency, it usually means that you are pretty good at it. I think we've got to look at what they're doing offensively and try to take some of their weapons away that they are using to create some of these explosive plays that they're getting. They are throwing the ball down the field. I think Arizona might be the only team that throws the ball down the field more than this team. That is going to be a big part of what we try to do, is try to eliminate the deep balls down the field and the shots down the field."