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NFC Conf. Championship Chat with S.T. Coordinator Greg McMahon

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    <span>              <span style="">New Orleans Saints Special Teams Coordinator Greg McMahon</span>                   
            <span style="">What specifically do you see as the challenge to containing a guy like Percy Harvin?  When you have a return guy like that, how does that change the game plan? </span>                

"I don't know how much you can change the game plan. He's certainly a talented player. It certainly heightens your awareness of him. It's a definite challenge for our group. We're certainly aware of him. You know, we're going to play extremely, extremely hard against him. I told those guys it really, really stresses your ability to play at the proper leverage, containment, understanding. Just the top of your technique and fundamentals are really what you have to draw from. Your ability to practice that way and take it into the game. So our guys are very aware of that, both returners."

I asked coach Payton about the first playoff game in which Garrett Hartley and Thomas Morstead performed. Did you watch them last week and how did they respond?

"Excellent. I think it's going to carry. They're mature. I mean, they've got a focus and maturity about them. I go back to how guys prepare. They prepare day in and day out, day in and day out. They go through the season. I felt our pregame warm up with both those players was excellent. They had a confidence about them. I didn't see deer in the head lights at all. I saw the opposite. I saw great confidence. They were ready to go, and when the game started, they played well. I'm really impressed with their maturity. "

You tried to put a few more front liners in your coverage. How did that pan out for you?

"They played well. Those guys played well. They're the best athletes on the field, of ours anyway. So I think it helped us. It brought some new juice for us and worked to our advantage. "

You don't try to do that during the season because it is such a long season or the magnitude of the games now?

"That's a good question. Because as you look through the season, you know, you think about the 16 game season. For example, all of a sudden you may have a guy like Scott Fujiya who is down for a few weeks. So you're bringing a new player up maybe it's Jo-Lonn Dunbar or Anthony Waters. So trying to fit the (Scott) Shanle's or the (Jonathan) Vilma's or (Scott) Fujitas' in, it's hard over the season just because there is so much changing. It goes all over the league. But certainly every team in the league when you get into the playoffs it's a one and done."

Speaking of adding some juice: How rewarding was it after a tough season in the return game to break that?

"You know, it felt great. I really believe this. The last six or seven games if you look statistically, we've started to come on with our punt return. We really challenged our guys to stay away from costly penalties of the we've had some good returns that have been called back. You know, as tremendous a talent as Reggie (Bush) or any of those guys that are really good returners, you know, it's hard to go game in and game out and everybody expects you to break an 88 yarder. It doesn't always happen that way. We've got to get ten yards, get ten yards and everything breaks. It was tremendous for everybody, the guys inside and certainly by him. "

With a guy like Harvin, when you cover, okay, every time you cover you can't do everything perfectly. Does this guy have enough ability to take advantage of even the slightest mistakes that you guys have made?

"Well, if you look at the games going into our games certainly. He's had two returns for touchdowns. He's certainly a threat, a tremendous player. No different than Reggie Bush for us and Courtney Roby those guys. The kick returner, punt returner. Those guys stress your ability to play with proper leverage. You've seen this league a long time. These are rare players, so you better be on. You better finish. You better play with proper leverage. You better play with pursuit. You've got to be able to swarm and you've just got to be on. "

How do you compare the Vikings coverage teams compared to the last time you played them?

"I think the Vikings did a great job this year. You look statistically and they're playing very, very well. They've got a lot of speed. A good veteran punter, good veteran kicker. I think these guys have done a good job without a doubt. "

Reggie Bush said he called that punt return, middle return. Is that right? Does he do that often?

"Well, what happened was as we get ready to go, he was coming down the sideline or whatever and said, 'hey, can we run middle or run right or run a left?' And a lot of times I'll go to he and Curtis Johnson. What happens was we're with the corps getting ready to go fourth down, and he's down 30 yards down the field because he's got to get ready to lineup and stuff. So we'll have dialogue and stuff. But he was motivated to try to hit a middle return. It's one of our base returns that we run. We had run it earlier in the game. "

Were you thinking no return?

"Yeah. We knew they were going to kick it in the boundary. We knew we already hit him. It was either an 11 on or 15 yard return into the boundary. So we wanted to get something into the field, and it worked out well, needless to say. "

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