New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
How would you describe the difference between the nickel (third) cornerback and fourth cornerback as far as their responsibilities?
"They are exactly the same. I think the third cornerback has got to be able to go in there and play nickel as does the fourth cornerback. You really want to try and get a unique skill set where, in a pinch, they can run on the outside lane and try to take away the deep ball and knock out the run. I think that's what you look for in your third or fourth cornerback is that they can go inside, re-route a receiver, short area quickness, and pretty good against the run."
Is there a situation, considering match ups, that you would have first and second cornerbacks, let's say Jabari Greer or Patrick Robinson on the slot receiver?
"Absolutely. You know we have done that before. We've done it with Patrick. We've never done it with Jabari, I think because of the body-type. But the bigger-bodied corner that you have, who can stand up with the running game in there, that's the match up that you always look for. If you have a big receiver in the slot, you may match that person up game by game. The main thing about Patrick coming out (of college) was his size. He had a second gear running down the field, but had the physicality to play inside."
It seemed like things were really cranked up today. What do you honestly expect out of Sunday?
"I'm going day by day right now. This is a preseason game. We are trying to get better. We are trying everyday to work hard and improve. We won't talk about Sunday until Friday. We're still installing; we are installing offensive plays, defensive plays, and special teams situational things. We really haven't even talked about Sunday yet. We are still in training camp mode: installing and trying to get better everyday. We have five preseason games, so this is almost like we would treat a Black and Gold scrimmage which we have every year."
Willie Roaf is going into the Hall of Fame before you guys play on Sunday night. You coached against him, your thoughts on him as a player?
"I coached Willie for four years in Kansas City. In my 34 years in the National Football League, I think the biggest injustice of all-time was (Roaf) not going in on the first-ballot. I think he's potentially the greatest offensive tackle to ever play our game. When you talk about size and speed, he's got basketball-type skills. I think that's what he went to college for, as a basketball player. The unique thing about Willie is that I've gotten closer to him after his retirement. He came and visited us last year when we were up in Oxnard for training camp and spent a couple days with us. I was with him for five years, and he talked to me more in one day (in Oxnard) than he did in five years. I'm so happy for him, and it's going to be a great day for him. But for him not to be a first-ballot was ridiculous."
After everything Jimmy Graham did last year, what do you expect from him this year?
"I want to see him improve. I want to see him improve everyday. Day by day, snap by snap, period by period, let's get better and let's improve. Let's forget about last year because there's no sense of entitlement around here. Last year means nothing."
Is there anything specifically that you want to see him improve on?
"I want him to get better at his blocking, his reads, his blocks, his outside/perimeter catches, all of those things. There's a list of things that he has to get better at."
At the tight end position, we've seen a change in the past few years. You're in a division with Jimmy (on your team), Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta, Dallas Clark in Tampa, and Greg Olson in Carolina. Can you talk about the match-up problems that those guys cause because they can really stretch the middle of the field?
"I think this era in the NFL right now has probably got the best skill set of tight ends in a long time. I think that one of the toughest mismatches at the early part of my career was Shannon Sharpe. He was a guy that you could put out on the flank and run routes like a wide receiver. No I think that's just one of the prerequisites. If you're going to come to the league as a tight end, you're going to have to block like a tackle and you're going to have to run routes like a wide receiver. We are fortunate to have some of those guys here."
What are your early impressions on Martez Wilson making the switch from linebacker to defensive end?
"I think we've made the right decision doing that. We are going to be a little more of a zone pressure team, where he could potentially be man-to-man on a tight end coming out of a three-point stance. We've got three-deep zones and two-deep zones that he knows about. He's continuing to get better every day."
Jed Collins surprised some of us last year. Where has he grown this off-season?
"It's his second year being a starter in the league. He comes back with a great work ethic and he worked hard this off-season. We know he's a physical blocker, and we will just see how we are going to expand his role."
What is Brodrick Bunkley bringing to this line that you guys might have been missing last season?
"We're still evaluating them right now and we have a long way to go. We brought him in because we thought he was a good football player who could potentially play the end position. But he's under evaluation right now, let's get him into some games."
Some guys don't like switching positions, but it seems like Martez Wilson is enjoying the switch.
"He really has. He's a very confident athlete. You go back and you look at his combine with his numbers. Coming out (of Illinois) he was a 4.4 (40-yd dash) guy, he had a good vertical jump, good change of direction. He played middle linebacker in college then played outside linebacker for us, so his versatility and what he's done has made us very confident. So this switch, he wanted to make it, and he's very confident."
Sunday will be your first game without Sean Payton. At one point you're moving on and playing football, but at another point you're missing him. Can you reflect a bit on that?
"I've said this before: we are taking it one day at a time. We're trying to win the day. When Sunday comes, we'll prepare as well as we can for Sunday. There's going to be certain emotions and certain feelings that we're going to go through on Sunday, and we are going to deal with it when we get there. I really don't know what else to say."
During the gassers at the end of practice, Drew Brees was out in front, leading the team. What does that say about him?
"It says that he's in good shape."