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Postgame quotes: New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs | 2023 NFL Preseason Week 1

Dennis Allen, Derek Carr, Khalen Saunders talk about the preseason win


"It's good to get a win. I thought our first units, both offensively and defensively, really came out strong and played well. It was good to see the offense (on the) first drive of the game take it right down the field 11 plays and get a touchdown. Obviously, with a few new pieces it was good to see Derek (Carr) out there. It was good to see Mike (Thomas) get a catch across the middle, so there were some good things that happened there. The second series offensively again we were able to take the ball downfield and get points. And honestly, I thought it went downhill from there. I don't think we executed well for a good chunk of the game until obviously there at the end with the two-minute drive and then we get the takeaway at the end of the game to seal it. Kind of the same thing on defense. I thought initially we started out strong. We got a couple of stops with the first unit which was good. And then (later), when we gave up the deep ball, that kind of changed the momentum of the game. In the second half, I just thought we made too many mistakes. Mistakes that will end up costing us games. But like I said, I am glad we got the win. This league is all about winning, so winning in the preseason is important and I am glad our guys were able to do that. It was nice to see (Blake) Grupe get a chance to get to kick in that situation and be able to knock it through."

On what he liked about Derek Carr

"I thought he was in control, poise, threw it to the open guy. Kind of the way you want your quarterback to operate the offense. He did a nice job stepping up into the pocket a couple of times, so I thought overall it was a good experience."

On if CB Alontae Taylor's evaluation is the same working in the slot and outside cornerback

"I would say they are two different evaluations. I think overall Alontae's had a really good camp. I think he's still getting used to playing inside in the slot – and that's part of the deal with growing up and playing in our league. If everyone is just an outside corner, somebody has to go inside, and so he is going in there and getting some work. He will keep learning from his mistakes and will get better from it."

On A.T. Perry's play

"It was good to see. I thought he stepped up and caught the ball well. I don't like him reaching for the goal line there at the end on his first touchdown, but it was good. He made a couple of contested catches and I thought he was able to run down the field, put his foot in the ground and come back and create some separation. I thought he played well."

On the play of the younger guys

"We had some young guys score their first NFL touchdowns; we had some guys kick their first NFL field goal. So, it was good to see some of those young guys make some plays. Certainly, we are in a race to improve from now to week two and we have a few days before we get on a plane and head out to L.A. and get some work in against the Chargers, so we still have a lot of things to improve on."

On his thoughts on QB Jake Haener

"Early on I thought he was a little erratic, but I thought as he settled down, he got better. He has a little moxie to him and when the game was on the line, he got us down the field and put points on the board. It was disappointing on the two-point play that we snapped the ball early and don't get a chance to at least try to execute in that situation. I thought that was my one takeaway is that we had too many self-inflicted wounds – not with the first groups, but as we got into the second and third waves, we had some self-inflicted wounds that we have to clean up."

On forcing turnovers

"We have talked a lot about taking the ball away and we got two of them today. I think takeaways are contagious. When you start getting them, they tend to come in bunches, so everything is about the ball and we have to continue to emphasize that as a coaching staff and make sure our guys understand the importance of the ball, both protecting it and trying to take it away."

On how the team won

"You know it's a preseason game, and when we didn't get the two-point conversion, we could have said let's get out of here and save our pads a little bit. But I thought it was important for us to take the timeouts. We figured if we got them three-and-out and they had to punt the ball back to us, we'd get the ball with about 15-20 seconds left and maybe we could get ourselves in long field goal range and see if Grupe could hit a long one. Our guys on defense made a play and you never know when those plays are going to come so you just have to keep playing."

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On how the first drive felt

"Felt good. Felt efficient. It was nice to get a couple of situations in the third down, get some red zone, and all that stuff because, again, they don't tell us like how much we're going to play and all that. So to get a couple of situations in there and then throughout the game to talk through things with Pete (Carmichael) in certain situations and things like that in a game type scenario. It was good. It was a lot of fun. Loved being on this side of things in the Dome. I can get used to this place it's a lot of fun."

On why he liked playing in the game as a starting quarterback

"When I woke up this morning, everything was new to me. Where's pregame meal? I followed Erik McCoy in and I was like, "bro, I don't know where to go to park." He was like "follow me." As soon as I got in here, Reg (Reggie Stone) was showing me everything like everything there is in the locker room and I was like, "alright, where's the shower? Where's the snacks?" Everything was new. For me to get out there more importantly and play football in the stadium, this time when it wasn't loud, we can operate and do those kinds of things. It was important to me to do that no matter how old I am and how many years I've played the NFL, to do it with a new group, all new receivers and for everyone to be in there and playing, I think is a mark of this team that any chance we can get to go out there and Coach (Allen) will let us, we just want to compete and play."

On Keith Kirkwood

"Keith Kirkwood was someone...We had three lifting groups and we'd always lift at 6:30 group and at 6 am. I'd be like whoever wants to meet me there, I'll be there at 6 a.m. to throw these new routes and these kinds of things and Keith was there every single time. After practice, I always run extra, Keith, as you guys see, he is always right there next to me running extra with me. If we don't see each other we make sure that we check in "did you do it?" I think that it's his hard work and his determination. He's a veteran player. He understands what it takes. I'm just really proud of him. To be able to get a touchdown, I know it was preseason game but they still all feel good."

On what he could have done better today

"We had a false start. I will look at that and I always put false starts on myself. Was there something in the communication process that I did not do right? Everyone wants to look at the jersey number that they put it on, but I have a lot to do with that too. I have to look at that. I'll always try and put those on me. Because I'm always trying to deflect from those guys as much as I can because, again, if there's a way that I can help us be better, that's all I'm looking to do. I'll check in with those guys, especially after we watch it. Especially with what kind of play it was and what we were trying to do. Is there something there that I could have done better to help them out."

On the offensive line

"When we have those five guys out there in practice all together. Sometimes some guys are limited and things like that. But when they're all five out there, it's like wow, this is pretty impressive, man. That's the first thing I told him when we came off field, I was like "I got to go through reads and make decisions, play quarterback, I appreciate it fellas." Because those guys man, they did a great job on that. It is one drive, but it is okay to get excited about, it's professional football. I think those guys are really good players. We'll watch the film and there's going to be things that they'll want to fix and that I'll want to fix but just playing the game and being able to see things and all that, I thought they did a great job."

On getting the ball to so many skill players on this team

"Hopefully our skill guys just continue to understand one guy may have 10 catches in the game and you may have two, and that may happen for two weeks and then boom, you are going to have 12. We have to be able to play that way and play selflessly. I believe we have a group that will do that. Because boom, everybody is catching the ball. Bam, bam, bam, you know first play is for Chris (Olave), then we got A.K. (Alvin Kamara), then we find Juwan (Johnson), then we find Mike (Thomas) then we...everyone is touching it and then all sudden Keith gets a touchdown. So everyone did the cardio and Keith got the reward. Hopefully our guys understand that that's just how we're going to have to play if we want to do the things that we want to do. Because if we can be, you know if we can do that and spread it out evenly..."

On if he was anxious

"I was very excited. No anxiety. I've been doing this like a decade. That is when I look in the mirror sometimes and I see the gray hairs it does feel like a decade but it does not feel like it goes so fast. But the nerves just...You're not nervous anymore. You just want to go out there and execute and play at a high level. I was really excited and... I will tell you what, I was really excited when we turned left right here and started coming down and the lights were off and they started playing a little music and I was like "oh yeah, now it is time." So that got the juices flowing. But I tried my best. I am an emotional, excited person. I try my best to stay like this so I don't throw the first one into the stands. It's hard not getting excited coming out to that intro."

On completing the few passes under pressure

"I was happy because usually some teams won't blitz in the preseason. They won't or if they do it's just someone off the slot, it's just easy stuff and they walked up in there double A's, double mugs another time, they gave us different looks all game. And for my drive, it was nice to get someone man someone blitzing me I was fired up that now I get to move and work on my stuff in a live scenario, and it was a great pickup. It was satisfying because those are the realest reps it gets, like they can hit me out there. For our guys to be able to, with that in their mind, do their jobs and execute, everyone, most time you can do the physical part but the mental side to make the right point and make the right calls and pick them up and do all that and everyone do their assignments. Everyone gets excited about the skill players and the points but it doesn't happen until we do that part right first. And so I was really proud of that."

On Jake Haener

"I was proud of him. When he came off after the interception, I said "you know who else threw a pick in their first preseason game?" He started laughing and I was like "just keep cutting it loose, man. There's a long half, we're going to win this thing." And I didn't know we'd win it the way that we did. But I was really proud of him. And he's going (to) be a good player for a long time. Because he works really hard and he cares. And he's good. So (I'm) really proud of him. And the more reps he gets he'll just keep getting better."

On what it was like for his family seeing him play

"I haven't gotten to talk to them too much, just a little bit before I walked in here. It was... for them putting on black and gold for the first time, it was probably a little weird because when I put that uniform on and I went in the mirror I was like... Jake walked up, he's like, "that looks weird." He said... I was like "I know, I've been in the same place for nine years." But it may look weird, but it felt right. I told D.A. (Dennis Allen) that earlier this week. I just feel refreshed and I feel rejuvenated and to put that uniform on and come out and be a Saint. It felt really good. I know my wife was excited about today and my three boys...My little girl she don't care. She was yelling "touchdown Raiders" the other day. I was like, we have to fix that. But my three boys, they were so fired up. I got to see them before the game it was really cool for me. They were on the field. Those are memories that we'll have forever. I am sure that they're going to know more about this game than I will. They will know all those things and so I am sure when I see them, they will be really excited.'"

On A.T. Perry

"I think it's good for... I mean it's the National Football League. It's not easy out there. It's one thing to watch it from one point of view, but when you're in it, in full speed game live reps where they can hit you and all those kind of stuff, you got to read it right and make the right decisions. For him to go out there and play the way he did, I'm so proud of him. But for all the young guys, I thought that they...whether they started slow or started fast I thought everyone just settled in and just started playing football. That's what the preseason is for, for everyone to just get... knock the rust off, all those things, things you've been working on in camp, doing it in the live game. And for them to see like, "oh, man, that does work" or man "what coach was telling me was right." A lot of that was happening today. I was really proud of him. He was featured today. He was getting the ball a lot so it was good."

On the win and how many players chipped in

"I mean, throughout the season it's going to take everybody in the building to win. And if we are all pushing the same direction, we'll be able to do it. And for the young guys to get in there...The camaraderie, the confidence that they will have now that...Man, the young guys, the third group went in there and they got the ball back for each other, they went down and scored and they knocked the field goal. I mean what that does for their confidence is unbelievable. That only helps our whole team be better. I think, especially the way that we won, I think it's only a good thing. But like D.A. said, whether it's regular season or preseason, we don't care. If we're strapping it on, you're going out there. You're not going out there to try and lose and be okay with it. We're going out there to win and we were happy we were able to do that."

On if Drew Brees gave him advice

"No, we laughed about a couple of things, that maybe our defense may know our plays and things in practice and all that kind of stuff. But we didn't talk about this. I think...I've been playing for a while. If I was a young guy, there are certain questions I'd ask him and asked him beforehand and all that kind of stuff, but they're certain things now that he's not like "you OK, you ready to go for the first" He doesn't have to do that kind of thing. But we're able to talk about just how big of an impact the things that he said to me ended up with me being here and everything, I told him everything that he said to me, they have proven it. What you said is what they are doing. I think just from that relational standpoint took us to another level because everything he said was true and they've proven it. Mickey (Loomis) and everybody's proved it so far."

On if he could hear the crowd when they announced him

"Yeah, that was cool. They were loud, that was awesome. And I think there was some Chiefs fans yelling at me too."

On following Erik McCoy to the Dome

"Oh, yeah. From the hotel. He waited for me. I'm not going to say the street's name because I'm going to screw it up. But he was down there, I pulled out and I waved to him and he was like, "alright, come on." Then I follow him all the way to my parking spot. First time for everybody."

On how Drew Brees was almost late to his first game at the Dome

"They did tell me that story and that's why I specifically made sure I had someone to follow and who better than your center?"


On his first game at the Caesars Superdome

"Oh man, it was amazing. Obviously coming out seeing the lights in the stands and stuff look like you looking off into space. All black and seeing black and gold, it was definitely a spectacle coming out of that tunnel and we hadn't even like do the introductions or anything, we just came out and it was the energy. So I can't... I want to see how they get when you introduced Demario (Davis), I want to see how that gets. It was a great experience, it was fun."

On how it was lining up against his former team

"Also fun. It really felt like practice. It just really... I felt like I saw a lot of plays that I'm used to seeing. I was out there calling out some stuff and kind of cheating a little bit but not cheating because I know them. But it was fun, getting to talk to those guys too before and after the game. Because, like I said in my introductory press conference here, I'm a big team guy. I'm going to treat them...treat those guys like my brothers. I still talk to those guys daily and so it was good to kind of reconnect with them and share sentiments and all of that stuff like that. But they also know who I am and they know that I'm a team guy so they know I take the Saints seriously and it's not like no, "man I wish I can be back." Like no, I love y'all to death but I'm a Saint. So that's how it is now and it was a good experience and it was a good competition."

On the opening defensive effort

"I think that's how we need to play the rest of this year. I think that, especially with a higher team offense like that, if you can get some stops like that early, you're going to get those guys punting the ball pretty early. First two series and stuff (like) getting clutch fourth down stops and stuff like that. That's all the makings of a top-five defense. I think that we have to see our offense too. Those first two drives going out there and scoring back to back. that's the...what else do you look for in a good team? You're getting stops, you're getting clutch fourth down stops and you're going down and dropping the ball and putting it in the end zone. I think that we have the makings of a championship team and it's just a matter of us to prove that right or wrong which we will prove right."

On the snap count and if he wanted more reps

"Absolutely. Absolutely. That's the competitor, the football player in all of us. Don't nobody wants to just be done completely playing, especially when you getting some tackles and getting back into it finally, like, oh, man, this how football feel. And then you get taken out. But obviously this opportunity... this is not our time, this is not my time. This is an opportunity for the younger guys. This is obviously for me just to sharpen my skills and polish up and get ready for the season. But one thing that I will say that I've learned over my career so far is it's not about your first team. It's about those guys who's given those guys a break. Those guys are coming in there should never be a drop off. And that's one thing I preach to the guys, the younger guys, the rookies, and just the guys on you know behind me is like, "Man when 99 comes off the field..." (Malcolm) Roach...I love playing with Roach because there's no drop off at all. And I kind of relay that to the younger guys and I'm like, yo, y'all got to... when me and Roach not on there, it should look like me and Roach on there. That's just kind of our mentality and mindset."

On the late interception by Kyle Phillips

"Oh, man, obviously any time a lineman can get to get their hand on the ball it's going to be the highlight of the day. And beyond just having an interception it's the fact of when he had it, that was like the most clutch thing I have seen in the league for a while. Everybody gets on him and (are) patting him on the back and stuff. But I just told him like, "Man, you must been living right. You must be prayed it up or something the right way to fall into that (interception) in the late (part of) game." Everybody congratulated him, telling him good job. He is been having a good camp in general. We brought him on a little later (in training camp), because he wasn't here at the start. He's picked up really well, been attacking each day showing great pass rush, showing great ability, just as you guys seen or tracking that ball. I know I was happy for him. Obviously, everybody was happy for him. I just told him like, hey...I told all the young guys this is your resume, and your film is your resume. Put it all on film, so it's nothing left to question and I think he did a great job of that."


On his interception

"I knew what was coming based on the formation. I knew not to break too soon. We practice that every day. It was one of those tipped balls and I came down with it."

On making a play like that in the preseason

"It's just the beginning for me. Those plays mean a lot to a defense. Coaches, the team and fans love the guys who get the ball. They just love those type of people and that's what I want to mean to this team.

On what the coaches said after the pick

"They just said to keep going."

On doing a little bit of everything

"I've been doing it all my whole career. The more you can do, the more the team will like you. I take pride in being a little Swiss army knife."


On how he felt out there today

"It felt great. It's always nice to get a victory."

On the touchdown pass

"(A.T. Perry) won on a great one-on-one matchup, made a heck of play and got in the end zone."

On what he saw out of Jake Haener

"I saw tenacity and the will to win. He led us back and we got a nice victory."

On A.T. Perry

"He is a big target. He has a great release game and strong hands."

On getting the win today

"Every win matters for this city and this team. For us to go out on top like that against the defending World Champions for the first game of the year is a tremendous confidence booster. I'm just happy that we got that win."


On the first drive

"I go out there and see Chris (Olave) out there and Mike (Thomas) and (Alvin Kamara), I get excited and I know the things that we can do. All of us collectively has to stay healthy. I don't feel like a lot of teams can stop us. That's just the mindset that we have. We are not being arrogant or cocky, but I've seen these guys work. I've been seeing it for the last month. I know what we can do. I just go out there."

On Jimmy Graham making that catch

"Like I've told you guys all camp, I've really looked to and leaned on him this whole camp. To see him have a reception and lower the shoulder, there he is. It is just exciting to see him out there. We are all out there just having fun. The tight end room is exciting. You have Foster (Moreau). He is a great player. He has been doing really well for us. Taysom (Hill) is out there getting his nose dirty and doing his thing, Jimmy being that guy who everyone looks up to. It's really good to have a room like that and it's been fun."


On the first couple of drives

"The offense did their job. They came out swinging. The defense were able to hold up. I'm really happy how special teams responded. I think they did a good job (also)."

On the fourth and short

"It was a quick snap with a little bit indirection. It was a misdirection on the offensive part of the ball, but we got a stop and at the end of the day that all that matters."

On if he likes the ball coming his way in that situation

"Truth be told we got some great players all across the line. Our strength is our versatility. Wherever the ball goes we are going to have a great opportunity to stop it."

On how the first string defensive linemen played

"It is a great place to start from. We definitely have a lot of things to work on. If we can get three and outs consistently and put their offense in less favorable positions, then we are going to have a better outcome at the end of the day."


On if he works on his balance

"Yes. Not specifically the balance, but my whole lower body especially my quads, my glutes and my hips so that I can be flexible and stronger. You have Alvin (Kamara) who is in the room and he is a gymnast when it comes to balance and mobility. I'm blessed to be able to learn from the best."

On if the touchdown was designed to go to him

"Yes, I'm the first option on that. No play fake. Just get to the pylon and make sure you catch the ball."

On his thoughts on that play

"I knew it was coming to me. Coach (Joel) Thomas said I've seen you from day one and I know that you have it in you. Just go out there and show everyone. He said I've believed in you since day one. Just go ahead and do it. I was a rookie minicamp invite (tryout). I did not get drafted. I didn't get a signing bonus. Every day I go in there with my head down and ready to work and show them that I deserve to be out here. God is good and I was finally able to do that today."


On how good the last drive felt for him

"Obviously, you come out and want to do a really good job on offense. First game in the preseason as a rookie, there is some miscommunication and some things that don't go your way. I think playing this position you have do a really good job of having a short term memory. You here from people to stay with it, but I think it's just staying positive, staying focused, staying task oriented and taking it one play at a time. We found a way to get it done."

On feeling comfortable under pressure in second half

"I felt comfortable that last drive. The previous few drives, I think we did a good job of communicating, getting the plan and getting into the flow of the game. It was great to get out there, get my feet wet and orchestrate something leaving people wanting more."

On if that situation take out a lot of the thinking

"Yes, I always try to play in flow state. I try to play with that react mindset. I try to breathe and I try to tell myself that I belong in these moments. You just want to go out and execute at a high level when your team needs it and the game is on the line."

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