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Hasselbeck's Media Conference Call

QB talks about first year under Coach Carroll, Saints defense and former teammate RB Julius Jones

How are you with your hand injury?

"I feel fine. I have a little crack in my wrist. It's actually not that painful. I have a splint on it. Really I don't feel any pain. I came back and played in the game. I surprisingly feel normal."

Have you practiced today?

"We had our first practice. We have our second one coming up this afternoon."

If you could talk about the first year under Pete Carroll and what it's been like with him coming from the college ranks, how would you describe it?

"I would definitely not classify him as a college coach. Everything he does seem to be predicated on his time in the NFL whether it's the 49ers, Jets or Patriots. It's been very different. It's been very different from anything we've done. I don't know that I could summarize other than it has a whole different feel to it this year, starting from day one and even now. Never mind the roster turnover and all that stuff when you have a new GM and head coach. There's been a lot of change in the personnel, people and coaches, but it's just everything we do. As an example, Wednesday is all about competition. Competition ones vs. ones, twos vs. twos. We really don't talk about the opponent that we're playing on Sunday on Wednesday. It's really about getting after Lofa Tatupu, Earl Thomas, Lawyer Milloy, those guys. It's just a mindset that he has. To me, it's similar to a John Wooden philosophy of we're going to worry a lot more about ourselves than the opponent, scouting, all that stuff and we're going to get right what we do. That's kind of what Wednesdays are dedicated to."

This will be the first time you've played the Saints since Gregg Williams took over the defense. What do you see of the defense on film, specifically the top ranked pass defense?

"I've played against Coach Williams a bunch of times and even though we haven't played against him recently in New Orleans it was hard not to watch with admiration the Super Bowl run they had and the kind of play that basically the Saints are making happen defensively. For a long time the Saints were known as this great offense, but not so much about the defense. I think that reputation is out the window. I think everybody knows they're a great team. Defensively they have some playmakers, obviously guys like Darren Sharper and (Jonathan) Vilma, the guys who have been doing it for years and years and years are continuing to make plays. Their scheme is not the same as when you play teams and say that these guys are like some other teams. There's really no one like them. They have their own style. They're creative in their blitz packages and coverages and I think the most important thing is they play team defense and play it well."

Can you talk about the story about Mike Williams?

"He's done a great job. He came in here. We signed about 17 guys at that position. He was just a face in the crowd in a sense. He had a few opportunities, took advantage of the opportunities, made some big plays here and there and then all of a sudden was maybe going to even get a chance to make the team and maybe even get a chance to start for us and then the quarterback's, we kind of took a liking to him and not only is he starting for us, but now we're counting on him a little bit. He had a couple big games for us. He's done a great job. I have a huge comfort level throwing to him. We've had a lot of turnover on our roster, but, it feels like he's been here a long time even though he hasn't and it's definitely a great story. It's not a story that's over. Hopefully he can keep improving and take advantage of his opportunities and see how far this thing can go."
How do you credit your offense with having one of their most efficient performances this past Sunday and do you think your unit has turned the corner?

"I think we're just getting better each week. It hasn't always shown on Sunday. We have so much turnover and offense is a lot different than playing defense. You don't just run and go get the ball. You're so reliant on offense with all 11 guys doing what they're supposed to do on each play. It takes a little longer. We've had our ups and downs. From my perspective with practice, I feel like we've gotten better and better and better. I feel like players and coaches, the communication is really good right now. I feel like we're improving. My hope is we can be playing our best football late in the year, but I think we're on track. Even though last week, we had a decent game offensively, we didn't score enough in the red zone. We didn't take advantage of some opportunities we had. I think we can be a whole lot better. We just have to keep improving, keep doing what we're doing everyday and just stick to what we're doing and what our coaches are asking us to do. Hopefully it will click for real."

What stands out to you on film about the Saints strong safety Roman Harper?

"He does a nice job. He's a different type of safety than (Darren) Sharper. He's down in the box some more, but he's a very smart player. You can tell he has great instincts. You can tell that within the system that his coaches are allowing him to play free. A lot of times you see a guy on film that he's kind of robotic. He knows where the ball's going to come but he has to do what he's told, but it seems like with this defense and Roman in particular. It feels like they have a knack for finding the football and making plays, a knack for playing it free and letting it loose within the system and it seems like all 11 guys are on board. I think they've done a nice job. They have a lot of guys in the box on every play, yet they're ranked really well against the pass. It's not what you'd expect, but the stats are there."
Is it
because they're not giving you time or comfort to find something you like down the field?

"I'm not sure exactly. It will be a challenge for us. We know it's a challenge anyway, but it will be a challenge for us. We think that we're improving in certain areas. These seem to be the areas we're strong in and so, we'll see. I think you have to credit a little bit of it to coaching and scheme. Some of these games that you watch, I'm not sure the quarterback knew the coverage. They got tricked occasionally, some newer or younger guys and you just wonder if they were fooled by disguises or what. They Saints defensively have a confidence level in their schemes, their defensive coverages, blitzes. It all kind of looks the same if you don't study it that well. I think just a veteran presence on that defense is clear. It's clear all 11 guys are working together on every play."
Can you talk about Julius Jones as a teammate and a player?

"We love Julius. We love Julius to death here. He was great for us. He came in the year we lost Shaun Alexander and he came in with T.J. Duckett. They were a great 1-2 punch for us. We had a revolving door up front, so it wasn't always the greatest situation for a running back here, but he did a great job for us. When we shook out our roster this year, we had three very similar backs in Julius and Justin Forsett and Leon Washington. I think what Pete (Carroll) was looking for were backs that were a little different style and he went out and made the trade for Marshawn Lynch, because he wasn't a real big, big back and he wanted the smaller back that we had in Justin Forsett. Just a situation where Julius didn't fit that right mix and kind of got caught in the turnover here. He was great for us. He did a real nice job. This team faced real adversity over the last two years and it was guys like him that helped hold it together for us. It was a loss when we lost him."

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