Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett - Conference Call With New Orleans Media - Sunday, November 25, 2018
What are your initial impression of the Saints offense from the last month?
"I think they are outstanding. They can beat you in so many different ways. They run the ball really well with a couple of different runners. They run it a lot of different ways. Their passing game obviously is prolific. The quarterback is off the charts. They attack you so many different ways in the passing game. Their offensive line is outstanding. Individually, each of those guys is playing well. Collectively, they play really well together. They're always moving the ball. They're always scoring points. They challenge every time they break the huddle. They are outstanding, as good an offense as there is in football."
What do you think has been key for your defense so far not surrendering 30 points in a game?
"Yeah, I just think we've continued to try to build our defense. We've added some good young pieces on all three levels of our defense over the last couple of years and I think that certainly helped us. I think Rod Marinelli and the defensive staff does a great job. Chris Richard has been a great addition for us and I think the guys have a good understanding of what we want them to do and I think we play hard. We're physical, we run to the ball and take great pride in being a great defensive unit. We are far from where we need to be, but guys go about it the right way and I think we're getting better and better."
How much of an impact has Leighton Vander Esch had this season?
"I think he's had a significant impact. Sean Lee is obviously one of our best players and he's been out and in the past we've struggled when Sean has been out and we made a concerted effort as an organization to make sure that we shored up the linebacker position and if something were to happen to Sean we felt better about it and the development of Jaylon Smith and having Leighton. I think that's really improved our linebacker core when Sean has been playing and also when Sean's out."
How much has adding Amari Cooper to the offense helped the last few weeks?
"Amari's been a really good player for us. We thought a lot of him coming out of school at Alabama. Obviously, a lot of other people do too, he was a top five pick and played very well in Oakland and we just felt like he could really help us, if we had an opportunity to get him and we traded for him. He's played four games for us now and he's really had a positive impact in each of them. He's a very capable guy physically. He's quick, he's fast, he's explosive, he's a very good route runner, he can make plays on all three levels of the defense. (I) Really like what he's done for us. I do think he's helped our offense."
Has Amari's presence on the field opened things up for Ezekiel Elliott?
"Well Zeke's been pretty good since we got him two and a half years ago and he's been a really good player for us, whether we hand it to him or throw it to him and it continues to grow and get better. I think any time you add weapons to your offense, I think that starts to challenge the defense that much more and they have more things to contend with so I think that benefits everybody."
What makes the New Orleans run defense so challenging from what you have seen on tape?
"I think they have really good players in their front. There's very good (run) down guys. They have good, active linebackers, safeties come up and hit you. They have a scheme they believe in and they run very well, so they're fundamentally sound. They've got a lot of good players. They play the right way."
Is there any one thing you can point out with Drew Brees that's allowing him to have this kind of season this late in his career?
I just think he has been fantastic for his entire career. He's a very rare player. Obviously, his production and statistics speak for themselves, but he is going to go down as one of the all-time great players in this league and he just has such a command of the position. He has tremendous ability. His athleticism and his ability to throw the ball anywhere on the field (is impressive). He is smart, he is instinctive, he has got an incredible feel for the game. His accuracy at all three levels of the defense is off the charts. His leadership and work ethic are second to none and so to me he's been playing at this level for a long long time and they've done a great job maintaining balance in their offense. They're a really good running team, really good passing team. They attack you a lot of different ways and he certainly has been the guy (who) orchestrates the whole thing. He's an outstanding player."
Do you ever wonder when a guy like Brees will slow down?
"Well it's just incredible to think that he's in his late 30's now and he looks like he's 22,23, 24 years old. The way he moves around and throws the football and obviously has a wealth of experience from all the years he's been playing and so you combine where he is physically, looking like a young guy in this league and then his experience and his know how and that's how you get the performance, that you get from him week in and week out for so many years."
What stands out about this Saints offensive line?
"Well I don't like to compare players, teams all that, but I will say this their offensive line's outstanding and they've made a concerted effort to get their offensive line better. They've used high resources in the draft to get guys. They've made trades and they have a really outstanding group and if you look at each of those guys individually, they're awfully good and then (you look at) how well they're playing together. They do a great job there. Anytime you're as balanced as they are and as productive as they are on offense it always starts with those guys up front and they have an outstanding unit."
Is it difficult to defend Alvin Kamara with the way the Saints move him around on the field?
"Well he's just a great player to start with. He's just one of these guys that really leaps off the tape at you, in terms of his quickness, his speed, his acceleration, his ability to run it his route running his ability catch the ball out of the backfield and when he's lined up in a receiver type position and he's just a fantastic player and then you add to that the fact that they do use him in all the different spots and he's so capable of handling whatever they ask him to do. He's just a dangerous, dangerous football player."
Has anything popped out to you about tight end Dan Arnold?
"Yeah (he's) a good receiving tight end for them. (He) shows up when he gets opportunities and again they use so many different parts of their arsenal and they attack you so many different ways. You have to contend with all those guys."
What do you think about wide receivers converting to the tight end position?
"That's a long discussion. I think it's probably different for different guys, depending on where they came from and what their body type is and what their physical traits are. Typically receivers are smaller guys who have to learn the blocking part and that's where the biggest challenge is. If they have the body type, in terms of their their height and their length, typically they need a little bit more bulk to be able to handle blocking defensive ends, both as run blockers and pass protectors. That's always a huge challenge, but I think it's probably particular to each specific guy. What makes their transition challenging, but anytime you have a receiver going to play tight end that can really threaten the defense because obviously, you would think he has receiving capabilities that can certainly challenge you."
Does it make it easier if you have play-caller that adapts well to their personnel?
"Yeah I don't think there's any question about that and I think that's really what you're trying to do all throughout your team. I think we all probably have models at each position for what we want the guys to look like and you try to acquire players and build your team in that regard. But then at the end of it you have you have guys who are capable of doing different things. They have different strengths and different weaknesses so really all throughout your team you're trying to do that. You're trying to play to what they do well and to minimize some of their limitations."