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John DeShazier: Dennis Allen weighs in on Saints defense

Young unit heading in right direction, defensive coordinator says

Check out the game actions between the Saints and Chargers in Week 4.

A few takes from Thursday's teleconference with New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen:

  1. Allen, obviously, isn't pleased with all he has seen from the Saints defense in the first four games. But he does like the direction he believes the unit is headed. New Orleans currently is ranked 31st in total defense, 28th in pass defense, 25th in run defense and last in scoring defense. "I think the big thing for us is developing our consistency," Allen said. "We haven't been as consistent as we've needed to be. There's been times when we've played really well on defense, and then there's obviously been times when we haven't played as well. I've been pleased with some of the development of some of the young players but yet, as you continue to go along, they're still learning and there's a lot of things that we can help them get better at. I still like the direction that we're headed in. We've got to continue to work to get better and look at what we can do, from a coaching staff standpoint, how we can put guys in a little bit better position to make some plays."
  1. Losing cornerback Delvin Breaux doesn't help the cause. Breaux broke his fibula in the season opener against Oakland and was expected to be out at least six weeks after having surgery to help repair the fracture. The Saints believe Breaux is a Pro Bowl-level player. "Any time you lose a player of that caliber, it hurts you as a group," Allen said. "He's a guy that we feel like we can put out there, and he's going to win his matchup. Regardless of who he's going against, we feel confident that he's going to, more times than not, have an opportunity to win his matchup. When you have that, from a play-caller standpoint, it makes things easier as to what you feel like you can do and what you feel like you can call. But we've got to deal with that and figure out ways that we can play good defense without him."
  1. Theories abound – and queries continue to grow – about linebacker Stephone Anthony'srole in the defense. After leading the team in tackles as a rookie, Anthony has seen the field sparingly lately. Allen explained why. "I think with Steph, I think one of the things that he's got to continue to do is just grow, from understanding the pro football game. We've kind of moved him around a little bit and so he's had to learn a lot of different things. The thing you look at with Steph is you look at a guy that's a big, physical guy that can run. His issues and his things that he's got to improve on really come from just his understanding of what we're trying to ask him to do. I think the biggest challenge is putting him in a position and asking him to do some of the things that he does well. And one thing that he can do well is, he can run and hit. And so, we've got to find positions that we can put him in those positions where he's got a chance to do those things and maybe take a little bit of the thought process out for him. I think we still have confidence in Steph and we've got to continue to develop him. Let's don't forget, here's another young player. We're going to continue to work with him and continue to try to improve him."
  1. In an effort to achieve the consistency he seeks, Allen said he doesn't anticipate having to minimize the play-calling. "The things that we try to do, we try not to get out of the realm of conceptually what we have taught up to this point. If you could just do something totally different conceptually without having a lot of opportunity to work on it and rep it, I don't know why we would go through OTAs and training camps and those types of things, if it was just that simple as to change what you're doing conceptually. We still try to give a little bit different look but yet, keep it within the realm of what we've taught these guys from a concept standpoint as far as what our defense is. I don't feel like we've had to limit or cut back those things. What we've had to do, as we've faced some of these injury issues, we've had to look at, OK, who do we have in the game now and what do they do well, and how does that relate to what we're trying to accomplish."
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