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Q&A with Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen

Allen held teleconference with New Orleans media Thursday

New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, December 22, 2016

What do you think about the way Rafael Bush*'s been playing over the last half of the season?*
"I think he has played well over the last half of the season. I think you know we have kind of gone to that three-safety package and we've kind of done things that use him a little bit differently. We got him a little bit closer to the ball at times and I think he's really starting to excel in that role and he's done a lot of the things that we had hoped he would be able to do for us and I still think there's still room for improvement and growth there, but I think he's really played a lot better. Probably over the last I'd want to call it two months of the season."

Is getting him closer to the ball more of what he did in Buffalo?
"Yes a little bit. They were a little bit more of a quarters defensive system there in Buffalo so probably not as much kind of deep, deep responsibility and look there were some things that we asked him to do in the first part of the season to try and help some of the younger players that we had him back there. I think as we've evolved as a defense and as we've gotten more confident in all the guys that we have back there in the backend, we've probably put him in a better position to make some plays."

Is Jairus Byrd showing signs of being the elite player he used to be?
"I think he's showing signs of being a good football player. It would be hard to say is he elite, not elite. I mean I think he's showing signs of being a good football player and I think the more he's in the system the more he understands what we're asking him to do and the more he spends time with Peter (Giunta) and AG (Aaron Glenn) and that DB room and kind of sees some of the things we're asking him to look at. I think you're going to see more and more plays. I think one of the things that's a benefit to him is this whole thing ties together. It's never about one individual guy, it all ties together. It's our corners' ability to disrupt the timing of the route. It's the rushers' ability to get to the quarterback, which then causes the quarterback to make poor decisions. Which allows him to make those big plays in interceptions and I think it's that whole combination of things that we just haven't had enough of this year to allow him to make some of those plays that maybe you saw him make in Buffalo."

Have you ever had a defensive lineman like Cameron Jordan play this high number of snaps before?
"Yeah, I don't know that I have ever seen that. I think he's an amazing athlete to be that type of (player). You don't see defensive linemen with that type of stamina to be able to play those types of snaps and the thing is that he plays those snaps at a high level. I have seen guys play a high number of snaps, but really when you really look at the tape they play about half of those snaps because the other plays their taking off, but that's not the case with Cam (Jordan). I mean he's got an unbelievable motor, he plays extremely hard and he's been unbelievably productive for us."

What makes him as successful as he is?
"Like I said very rarely do you find those guys that have that type of size, speed, power combination. He's got the entire package. I mean he's the guy that can play end, he can go inside, we use him inside some. Probably more last year than we have this year, but yet to me he's just a rare athlete. You don't find guys like that that have the ability to do that many different things and do them well."

It seems like this year you guys have done a better job against tight ends; is that how it feels for you?
"I think a lot of that has to do with (the fact) that we have increased the athleticism in the back half of our defense. I think we're more athletic at the linebacker position. We've gone to a little bit more of a three-safety package which gets a little bit better athletes on the field to be able to cover backs and tight ends. I think we have played a little bit more man coverage. When you play zone coverage it is usually the backs and the tight ends that are working in the middle of the field and trying to find the voids in those zones. Man coverages takes away some of those things. I think it is probably a combination of things of why that might be. Quite honestly, I wouldn't know the stat. I wouldn't know that statistically we have been better at covering tight ends. I just know that I watch the tape and I know what we do well and what we don't do well, and I try to call those things that we do well and try not to do those things that we don't do so well."

(Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end) Cameron Brate is someone that was in your building for a week last year; what is your thought on him?
"Well, my thought is that I wish he never got out of our building. He's done a really good job for them. I think he's an athletic guy. He has the ability to get himself open, but yet the thing that was most impressive to me is he catches just about anything that's thrown his way. You can have tight coverage on this guy and he finds a way to catch the football. I think he is playing at a really high level. I think they do different things to try to get him the football. You can just tell how they feel about him by the way that they use him. When they split him out – when you take a tight end and you split him out on the backside of a three-by-one formation, knowing that you are going to get single high safety and run isolation routes for that guy, you know they feel they have something special there. He is a big target on third down. He is a big target, especially down there in the red zone. I think he has played really well for them."

How is it having P.J. Williams back in the building?
"It's been really good. Obviously, we're all disappointed that he had the injury and that he hasn't been able to play this season. He's been since, I would probably say three weeks to maybe a month from the time he had the injury where he was kind of down a little bit, but after that time we have had him in the meetings. He has been a big part of all of the game-planning, that whole process and studying the tape. He gives reports every week to the players. He has really worked hard to try to improve himself the best that he can without actually being able to be out there to practice and play."

When you say that he gives reports to the players, what do you mean?
"Each week we've got different reports that we assign for the players to give. It might be looking at the tight ends, backs, receivers or different types of formations. They've got to study those things throughout the week and then they give a report at the end of the week of what they see. It has been beneficial."

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