Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Quinn
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
*Do you see any similarities in the Saints defensive scheme compared to yours? *"I think the thing that jumps out is you see the speed that they are trying to feature and for sure that part's similar. Fundamentally they look like a good tackling group, so that part's something that I look for with my defensive background when I am studying the opponents. I think from a speed standpoint especially in the secondary, for sure that part is the same."
*How do you know or try to figure out how quickly these guys will be able to help you out with the goal being to build through the draft? *"To me whether it's through the draft how you're discussing, how do you feature the players in the roles that they would play? You have to use a little bit of creativity to say if he was on our team this is how we would try to play him. They may play in a different system in college or be featured a different way, but based on some of the traits they have, it's 'Ok we have to play him at nickel or we play him at free safety or pass rusher'. You try to find the traits that they have and then kind of envision how they would play a role for you. I think it's important especially for the rookies, (because) they're not really sure of the role that they may have on the team. You have to be really clear about what they can do when they come to your team and you keep developing them as they go. Because more than likely they're going to be doing something a lot different than they did in college from a team standpoint."
What have you seen from the Saints two starting cornerbacks in Ken Crawley and Marshon Lattimore*? *"Just kind of going through the process and through the draft I had saw the quickness that (Marshon) Lattimore could play with and (Ken) Crawley for sure based on his ability to play man-to-man, it allows them to pressure, which they're good at. Having guys like that allows you to have more versatility on defense. When you struggle to cover, then you can only pressure in a zone fashion or how would you protect players. Having the ability to play man-to-man (and) play with that kind of versatility to pressure does give you more options. I think it allows Dennis (Allen) and the staff to have really good versatility and they have safeties that can play nickel like (Kenny) Vaccaro. Where he can play down and play back. I think having guys that can play multiple roles gives you versatility as a defense?."
*Do you remember having a reaction when the Saints drafted Marshon Lattimore? *"No I don't remember specifically from that. I always keep an eye on the division, so when the draft comes as you're going through it I kind of look and say that fits and you can see why they targeted him and wanted to go for him. You were looking for pass rushers and where was that factoring into it. That was where we were able to go up and gat Tak (Takkarist McKinley). I always had my eye between New Orleans and Tampa and Carolina, who's getting added to the division. It makes for good conversation of how they could be featured on their respected teams. I knew right away they got a good one in Marshon."
Why has Alvin Kamara been so hard to stop?"I think probably a combination of things. Number one, he's in a system that really suits what he does. For years I have been impressed by Sean (Payton) and their staff of how to feature what the guys can do best. For a long time, they've had a fantastic screen package. That's been a part of their running backs role in their offense for a long time. Dating back to my Seattle days and playing against New Orleans, I can certainly remember having to deal with (Mark) Ingram and Darren Sproles and now it's Kamara in to the mix in the different ways that you can utilize him. From how they utilized (Marques) Colston and that transferred over to Michael (Thomas) and all the different ways that they feature guys. I've been very impressed by that group for years. What we try to do as well is put guys in the things that they do best. Sean has a very clear vision of how to utilize the guys and of course everything comes to life through Drew (Brees) and his ability to call plays at the line and make it come to life so to speak."
*He's an Atlanta guy, did you see him much in the process? *"We were at Tennessee. We worked out a defensive end there and a linebacker. I remember seeing him when we were down that way. We always kept tabs on him in terms of where he was and how he would go. We were fortunate, where we have had two really good backs. It was not necessarily a spot that we were going to be targeting early on. They were very fortunate that they got them when they did because he's off to a hell of a start in his NFL career."
*You've obviously coached a lot of good defensive ends in your career, what stands out when you watch Cam Jordan? *"That's a good one. I think it's a lot of things. I'd say it is the versatility that he has. There are some players that are just good pass rushers that can get on the edge and get going but you do not hear from them when it gets to tackles in that way. Not only can he generate pass rush, but he is a handful in the run game. The tackles for a loss, the disruptive plays, batted passes. Those are things that really make you a complete player. He's bigger than the average guy at defensive end. Oftentimes the guys who rush out on the edge are long and fast and he just happens to be both of those thing and big. That's unusual to see a guy with that kind of size to have the ability to get outside and rush. I've been impressed by Cam for a long time, saw him coming out of Cal and thought he'd have a really good career. I'm not surprised that he's having the success that he has. As you get into a pass rusher, it takes a few years to get going. Then once you hit that rhythm, you know what it takes and how to play and we're real impressed by him."
*What do you think has been the biggest adjustment, if any, for the offense going from (Kyle) Shanahan to (Steve) Sarkisian now? *"Well for sure there's always adjustments. How do you fit new players, new coaches into the mix? And then it was also good to say what are some things that we're doing well and what are some things that we could change. So there were some areas that were improved on from last year, scoring not being one of them right now, but we're better on third down than we were last year. We're better in the red zone. I like the explosive plays that we're having. We're not as good from a turnover margin and we're going to work like crazy to keep working on that as we're going through. Those would be a few things that we're doing well and things that we still need to work on. I don't think by any stretch that we've reached our peak offensively in 2017. As we're getting into the latter part of the season I was encouraged by over the last few weeks the progress that we've made, not last weekend withstanding."
Drew Brees is pretty close right now for the NFL single-season record for completion percentage, what have you seen this year obviously, he's so precise every year but what do you think he's even stepping it up more now?"That's a good question but I don't know the answer to that because those completion percentages have been like that it seems like to me every time I've competed against him, have always been really high. I have a lot of respect and regard for him. The way he prepares, the way he goes after it. It's actually fun as a coach when you compete against guys like Drew and Sean (Payton) who really have their whole act together from an offensive standpoint, it really challenges you. Tons of regards for how he does it. Let's see if we cannot have that completion percentage up so high this week."
*I'm wondering, looking at the Saints offense, what makes it so hard to defend? Obviously they have the running back playmakers but is it the balance, the receivers on the edge. They've been so productive this year. *"It is definitely a challenge to me. That's what makes our offense so difficult to defend as well. When the team is really one-dimensional whether it is all throwing or all running. As a defense you can kind of dial in on that part you can handle but when you have the ability to run it and then the play action. Both teams are really running the ball (well). Both teams have really good runners. It's a classic game. In my opinion, balance is what makes any offense really tough to defend."
*We started talking about the defense and now you're comparing the two offenses, is there like a mirror when you look at these two teams? *"No not a mirror but what I think is similar is both teams are really rock solid in how they want to play their football. The identity of both offenses, the identity of the defense, special teams. So that part when you watch us play I hope you see a kick ass run game, a play action that goes with it. A team that features different guys on third down and how to go. The same with them. They have their own identity and running the play action and the accuracy with Drew (Brees) with the screen game. Both defenses have speed. Both defenses want to get after the quarterback. Then on special teams the speed that's featured in those units. I would hope when you watch us play and certainly when you watch them play, the identity as a team is really clear for everybody who watches om how we play. I see that same. I wouldn't say they're mirrors, but I would say both teams are really committed to their style and how they want to do things."