New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Opening Statement: "Pierre Thomas did not practice today, Akiem Hicks did not practice today, Jabari Greer did not practice today. Chris Ivory and Jed Collins were full at practice and Jimmy Graham was a full practice. Our work was on third down, predominantly, today and I think this is the first time all year long that the matchups on both sides of the ball are top ten third down teams. It's going to be critical that we try to win that battle to maintain possession offensively and to get off the field as fast as we can defensively. They're doing a good job of protecting the quarterback, he's extending the down and making plays. Defensively, they're playing three-deep single high man and zone. As you get further in the down they play a little bit more cover two and quarters coverage. They've got a good blitz package, they're going to threaten linebackers in the a-gaps. We had good work today but it's a battle we have to work hard to compete at."
Do you use the numbers and the chance that the defense could give up the most yards in NFL history as motivation?
"I haven't brought it up. I think we've improved as the year went on. Listen, I said yesterday, we are who we are right now. I think you talk to any defensive member of the team and they're proud to be a part of that unit, the coaching staff certainly is. There has been improvement, there has been shutouts. Instead of being the negative part, the all-time leader, whatever that means, we have a chance to be 8-8 and be an improved defense. That's more important, not where we were but how we finished."
What do you think about Jahri Evans making the Pro Bowl?
"Listen, Jahri Evans, I think you can say is a perennial Pro Bowl pick again. He's athletic, he's strong, he's smart, he's a great competitor, he's a great teammate. He's a self-made man coming from Bloomsburg when he did in 2006. It's been an honor to be around him and it's been really fun to watch him grow. I said this to him earlier in the year, he's in his seventh year but guards can play 13-14 years. Jahri takes care of himself. He kind of reminds me of Will Shields, who I think will be the next offensive guard that goes into the Hall of Fame, that I was with in Kansas City. Jahri has that chance now with the numbers that he's put up and the work habits he has. He is such a stable person. He knows what he has to do to get better. He's not going to miss a game, not unless he's in the hospital. He's not going to miss a game. It's fun to watch and we're really proud of him."
Do you have any alternates to the Pro Bowl?
"I think we do but I haven't even looked at it yet. We're looking to beat this team right here. I don't know what the TV ratings are right now for the Pro Bowl but we're looking to get this game under our belt right here (against) Carolina."