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NFC Conference Championship Chat with Will Smith

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    <span>New Orleans Saints DE Will Smith  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

To what degree would you agree the Minnesota Vikings are the scariest team on paper that you guys have faced all year?

"I wouldn't agree, but I would say they are a pretty good team. They're up there as one of the most talented teams we've played so far. There are a couple of other teams that have been equally talented as those guys."

Can you talk about facing Brett Favre and just the challenges that your defense will face on Sunday?

"We know he's been playing this game for a long time and brings a lot of experience. I don't think there's going to be anything we can do to him to rattle him. He's just kind of out there playing, having a good time, leaving everything out there. It's going to be tough, but we've got to figure something to slow him down and slow the run attack."

How much confidence do you have going into it this game given what you guys were able to do to Kurt Warner last week?

"It's a totally different game. Last week we knew they were probably going to throw the ball a lot. This week, this is probably going to be more 50 50. They'll probably try to establish a run against us early and then open it up with a couple of play action passes, try to go deep on us. It's going to be a totally different game from last week. But ultimately the things that we need to do is stop the run early and get after Favre."

Jonathan Vilma said dealing with Brett, you play until the play is over and you can't stop. Is that how you have to approach it?

"Absolutely. You watch him play a couple of times throughout the years, and one thing we've talked about is his ability to keep the play going. There's never a dead play. You just watch from a couple of games I've watched so far from this year, there's been a couple of times where a guy has had him in his arms and he's broken loose and threw the ball down for a touchdown or for a big play. So we have to stay after him and make sure when we get our hands on him, we bring him down."

What did you learn in Chicago three years ago that tells you this team is better prepared to win an NFC Championship?

"We've learned a lot of things. We've learned the importance of having home field advantage and not going on the road and going into somebody else's environment and playing under their roof.

"Now we can get to relax a little bit and not worry about the traveling part. Not worry about the tickets for family and all that other stuff. You can just kind of sit back and watch film and know those guys will have to do what we had to do a couple years ago."

How fortunate do you feel that you didn't have to miss any time this year? It's a similar situation between you and the Vikings, the Williamses with the StarCaps situation that you didn't have to miss any time? How has it helped?

"Absolutely. I think if you look across the board, we all had pretty good seasons. Just not being able to miss any time and just being able to be out there to help my team to get where we're at today. I think it plays a huge part. So I'm happy that I didn't have to miss any time."

Much has been made about Gregg Williams changing the culture here on defense. What does that mean? What was the culture prior to his arrival and what has changed the culture this year?

"I guess it means a lot. He brings to the table a totally different defense than I've had since I've been in the NFL. It's more of an attacking front. More of a play on the edge. Kind of lets the guys go out there and play. And the pass the past defenses I've been part of, they've been good defenses, but they've been more controlling.

Sometimes we sat back and kind of had to rely on what the offense does. I think his defense that he's brought here allows us to dictate what the offense is going to do as opposed to them dictating what we're going to do."

Are the 40 plus turnovers a direct reflection of the change in culture would you say?

"Absolutely. I think that's a huge part of our success so far, being able to turn over the ball. Being able to score when we do get the turnovers and change the game. Coach Payton talks about how big the turnovers are through the course of the game. And if we can win the turnover battle, we have a high chance of winning, so that's huge."

What happened to the Brett Favre who used to throw a lot of interceptions? It's like sometimes they would come out from a slot machine but this year he's only had seven picks?

"I think the difference is he's on a much better team. I think in the past he probably felt as if he had to do everything himself. He has a great offensive line, a really good running back, some terrific receivers. They have a solid defense, good special teams. They're a very talented team. So I think he feels as if he doesn't have to put everything on his shoulders. He just has to make the plays when they call his number, I guess."

You guys wanted to establish stopping the run. Do you feel if you do that you may revive the old slot machine Brett Favre?

"Any time you can make any team one dimensional and make them either just run the ball or just throw the ball, it helps. We know what they're going to do. So if we can get a good lead on them and force them to go away from their run game and force them to throw the ball, it will definitely give us more opportunities to get more turnovers and get more sacks, quarterback hits, et cetera."

When you spent a couple extra practices going ones versus ones, did you notice a significant change in Jermon Bushrod after getting through an entire season of experience?

"Yeah, absolutely. He's grown. I remember when he first got here, they didn't know if they were going to keep him or release him. He was always talented, but he just wasn't experienced. I practiced against him the past couple of years, so I've had a chance to watch him grow as a player and a person. He's just made huge strides. He still has one of his toughest battles up ahead going against Jared (Allen). I think he's pretty confident. He's going to go out there and play well against him."

With all the changes you've had defensively and everything, how much of that was the evident in camp? And having practices and hitting and all of that?

"When Gregg got here, things changed, just with picking up the balls on the ground when there is an incomplete pass. The little things that you kind of take for granted. You look at the way we played so far this season, any time there is a fumble, we've always had guys at the right place to be able to scoop up the fumble or guys in the right position to be able to intercept it.

"In the past years, we were unable to get those fumbles or get those interceptions. And I think by him coming in early, setting the culture for the defense to be aggressive and attacking to have an opportunity, seize that opportunity. I think that's won it so far."

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