Is your team taking a different approach to this game because of all the hoopla around it?
"Well, we live in a small town so it's a big deal but really our approach hasn't changed. Even the way that they're setting up the concert really hasn't affected our operations. I know game day is going to be different than it's been but we're used to crazy game days. We're going to come to the stadium a little bit earlier. We've been in big games with a lot of media hype. Coming of off our last game we had to deal with a lot of media responsibility. I'm feeling like we're off to a good start. We're just really focused on this football team that we're getting ready to play, a very good football team."
I'm sure your team has heard about Super Bowl hangovers. What do you tell your guys going into a game like this?
"I've been in this league long enough to know that when people say nice things about you, you should just say thank you. I look at this the same way. It's a compliment that we're playing in this game. There's a reason why we're playing in this game, but really in my mind and my message to the team is that's as far as it goes. I'm not really into being in the limelight. That's just not really my personality and it's something I expressed to my football team. I'm not saying these guys operate the way I do. It's a big game, we understand that. It will be a great evening at Lambeau, but we're really just focused on the Saints. It's our first game and it's important that we get off on the right foot."
You mentioned that you were surprised at the number of rookies that wound up on your roster and that you spent some more time on your special teams because you haven't had as many practices as you would in a normal offseason. Are you worried about that combination?
"I'm not worried about it. It's just a fact of the way our training camp was laid out and also just the way our roster is designed today. We have ten rookies on our team. They deserve to be on our team. We didn't just go out and say – hey, we're going to keep young players this year. I think if anything coming out of a lockout season and what's going on around the league, it's probably more of a natural reaction to keep more experienced players, but these ten men truly deserve to be on this football team. We had three rookie free agents make our football team and we didn't sign any rookie free agents until July, so this is a credit to these young men. They came into Green Bay, a championship football team, and were able to earn a roster spot. It was not something that was a pre-meditated decision at all."
What kinds of challenges does a Gregg Williams defense give you as a play caller?
"Gregg is a multiple-scheme coordinator. His players play hard and they do a very good job going after the football. You can see that in their turnover production. It's typical when you play the first game of the regular season, the first couple games there's a percentage of unscouted looks. We anticipate that, that'll be the case Thursday night. Gregg's a very good football coach and his defense will come out and try to challenge us schematically."
In your career path, what was the value of the time you spent down here in New Orleans?
"I thought I grew a lot as a person and as a football coach in my time down in New Orleans. When I look back on past experiences, organizations where I've had the opportunity to work for, the first things you think about are the people and the relationships that you had. The Gulf Coast region, I think it's a unique area, blue-collar people, and it's something that I enjoyed personally. Professionally, that was my first coordinator job, Jim Haslett gave me that opportunity and Tom Benson and I also got to work with Mickey Loomis. It's a place where I was given an opportunity to really grow as a coach and coordinate for five years."
Do you see any similarities to the Green Bay and New Orleans fan bases?
"Until you've lived in New Orleans, I don't think you realize that it is a small town. But they do have such a passionate fan base. Just recovering from the storm, it's been impressive to watch from afar. It's a team that, how do you root against them except when you're playing them? You have to feel good about what the city of New Orleans and the Saints have been able to accomplish over the time that Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have been there."
*Did you all take a different approach to winning this title? I heard you all just hung a banner in the facility and didn't make a big deal of it. *
"That's just our personality. It really starts with Ted Thompson. Ted isn't a flashy person. He comes to work the same way every day and it's expected. It's about winning world championships here in Green Bay. They don't put anything on the walls around here for second place. We just feel blessed and fortunate now that we have a banner hanging up with the other world championships here in Green Bay. We can always be proud that we're part of that history, but frankly that's in the past and we're looking forward to start the path of building a new part of history here."
*Talking to some of the guys in the Green Bay area, they consider Matt Flynn to be maybe the best backup quarterback in the NFL. Could you tell us about his growth? *
"Well you media guys are the best personnel guys in the business, there's no question about that. I agree with the assessment of Matt Flynn. I think Matt's done an excellent job in his time here. You just see him grow each and every year. He's a very instinctive football player and he's in command of the offense. He had an opportunity to play against Detroit and New England and, just in the game plan against New England, we game planned the same way that we always do with Aaron (Rodgers), so I think that's a real compliment to the way we feel about Matt Flynn. He's a proud LSU Tiger, he was pumping his chest today. He's fun to work with and I'm glad he's here."
You've seen Turk McBride a few times, what's your assessment of him?
"Turk's a good football player. Turk and that whole rotation is something that we've been spending time on just with watching last year's film and this year's preseason. You see a lot of Alex Brown and Will Smith in there, so just trying to watch those guys and trying to prepare for a certain kind of rotation. I think Turk is an experienced and accomplished player."
Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Sunday, September 04, 2011
Did you have a conversation with Drew Brees over the off-season about returning as the QB for a Super Bowl winning team?
No, I did not.
Did you talk to anyone? What is some advice you have received from people that have been in your position before?
I don't think I really had any major conversations about the things we are doing. I got to spend time with some buddies up in Tahoe, some guys who had won Super Bowls. I had some really interesting conversations, none of which I want to get into. I do think it is important to seek out advice from guys who have been in your shoes before, in your position, played the game at a high level, and have dealt with the up-and-down league. Right now, we are coming off a victory in the biggest game in our sport. I think it is important to know what the expectations are in the next season. I made the most of the opportunities that I had but I didn't really go out searching for them. I did enjoy those conversations when I did have them.
Is it more difficult coming back as Super Bowl Champions after a lockout? How has your team grown from the lockout to this game?
I don't quite understand the increased challenges because of the lockout. This is our sixth year and the third year in the same defense. We have a system that has been in place and is proven to work. We are excited about the opportunity in front of us. We are excited about having guys back that were injured last season, that didn't play that big of a role for us. Guys like Jermichael (Finley) and Ryan Grant. I think we are coming off a decent pre-season and I am excited about getting to the real games.
Did you catch a break because the Saints cut Alex Brown and Will Smith was suspended?
I think you still have some talented guys out there. Turk McBride is a guy that we have seen in Detroit in the past. Losing a guy like Will Smith does not make your defense better. He is one of the top guys, at his position, in the league. I have played against Gregg Williams before. I know what kind of coach he is. He is an extremely talented coach and he gets him team prepared. I know they will have something special for us and I know it will be a big challenge for us.
How do you deal with things in a game that you haven't seen before from your opponent?
I think that is the nature of this league. I don't know what the percentages are, but somewhere between 25-35% is un-scouted looks, things you haven't seen before on film, because there is time in training camp to put in new things and to work on things that you did last year. It will be on both sides of the ball. They are probably going to see some things from us that we haven't shown yet. We are going to see some things from them that have been saving for us. It's how the first few weeks go. It's something that you have to talk about. You have to be able to react in this league quickly and make quick decisions. We are hopeful that we are going to be able to do some of that.
What are your thoughts on Jonathan Vilma?
For some reason, his name is often left out when you are talking about the best players at middle linebacker. It's unfortunate there is a number of very good guys in the NFC when you think about Patrick Willis and Brian Urlacher has a recognizable name. For some reason, I feel like Jonathan's name gets left out when you talk about Pro Bowl balloting and stuff. When it comes to the players that play in the game, there is no lack of respect for Jonathan Vilma. I just mentioned in my press conference that any good defense starts with a talented, athletic, very intelligent middle linebacker and that is what the Saints have in Jonathan Vilma. I think he has gotten better. If you look at the time we played him in 2008, I thought he was a very good player. Now, I think he has gone to an elite player. He is one of the top in the league at his position. I think you would put him up there with anybody that plays that position. He does a good job. I got to see him in the off-season and he is a very built, talented, athletic guy who factors in every game he plays in.
Is it characteristic of the organization to quietly hang the banner in the practice facility?
Yeah. I think it is characteristic of the organization and of the midwest. It is a blue-collar place. A place that I don't think relishes the spotlight. I think Ted (Thompson) kind of snuck it up there in the indoor facility. It was nice to see it when we got back. It is something that we can hang up for years to come and look at and remember. I think this team is all about looking to the next challenge and kind of putting that season behind us. We are excited for the next opportunity. Our team, this city, this organization enjoys kind of downplaying that some of that stuff and just living in the moment more than living in the spotlight.