New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen - Conference Call With New Orleans Media - Friday, September 28, 2018
When you look at the first three games, you only see the one turnover. You guys got off to a similar start last year, what do you do to turn that around?
"I don't think that there's any magic to it. I think really we just got to continue to focus on playing hard. We've got to focus on being relentless to the football. I think when you're able to do those things, then the takeaways tend to come. So there's nothing magical about it. It's really about when you create population around the ball, and you make offenses have to go the long, hard way, and you continue to fly around, then good things are going to happen."
Have you seen improvement from the linebacker corps the last couple of games?
"I think it has continued to improve and to get better. I thought that our linebackers played well in certain cases. And then like the rest of the team, I think there are a lot of things that we still need to improve on. But, I have seen significant improvement. Obviously, there is some things that we have to clean up. But I have seen a lot of areas where we have improved."
What's the difference for (Marcus) Davenport between when he's in a down position and when he's up?
"There's not really a whole lot in terms of difference other than I think sometimes he feels a little bit more comfortable when he's rushing the passer from a stand up position. So we're flexible enough to give him the opportunity to be able to do that. There are certain instances and certain formations that really kind of dictate that you've got to be down in a three-point. Particularly in run situations and things of that nature. But I just think that's something that if the player feels more comfortable in that type of stance when we're able to put him in that type of stance, we want to give the freedom to be able to do that."
So some of the guys in the secondary have mentioned that the communication with some of the new guys coming in has been a bit of a process. How do you guys get on the other side of that to where it coalesces?
"I think it continues with a lot of hard work and a lot of focus on what we are trying to get done. There's been a couple of communication errors which have led to big plays and certainly those are things that we have to clean up. I think obviously that starts with me. I think that's my job to make sure that everybody's on the same page. So we've worked hard this week of trying to put a plan together that our guys are real comfortable with, and focused in on, and allow them to have success."
Is it harder for you to dial up some of the blitzes if there are some coverage lapses on the backend?
"Certainly, each week you've got to look at the offense that you're playing, the type of skill players that they have and you got to evaluate where your advantages are and maybe where some of your disadvantages are and try to put your guys in the best position to have success. Obviously, this is a different challenge this week. They have some tremendous skill players that have had the ability to be really explosive. So we have got to make sure that we understand where Saquon Barkley's at every moment. How they are trying to use him? How they are trying to get him the ball? Odell Beckham (Jr.), (Sterling) Shepard. Those are some of the guys that we really got to focus in on and understand how to trying to get those guys the ball."
Is there anything different in the technique of your corners? Are they jamming less at the line?
"I really don't think so. We are using the same technique. We're teaching the same things. We had some of the same issues at the beginning of the season last year. That's something that we've got to continue to work through (and) get our guys playing with some confidence. When they begin to make some plays you'll see that confidence breeds confidence and I think the level of play will continue to improve."
How would you evaluate Marcus Williams from the first couple of weeks?
"I think at times he's trying to do a little bit too much. We're trying to put him in a position to let him really use his skill set and go find the ball and go get the ball. It's kind of been like let's just go down and let's know what to do. Let's go out and compete and work our tails off to fight and compete on every single play and if we do that, we will live with whatever those results might be. We have to eliminate some of the thought processes and just let the natural ability and instincts take over."
Can adding just one or two new guys cause some communication errors?
"I would say that there's been a couple of communication errors throughout the first three games. I do not feel like that has been a huge issue. But now look here is the thing, when you're in the back end of the defense, one communication error leads to an explosive play and really those are the communications errors that we have to eliminate. I don't think that this is an epidemic that we're dealing with. I mean this is something that we've got a few plays that we got to get corrected."
Have you seen the defensive front takes strides and is Marcus Davenport taking a bigger role there?
"Well number one, in terms of the defense up front, they played really well last week. I've seen improvement in that group. I think that's a group that's going to continue to try to lead our football team. We've got a lot of really good players up there. We've got some high draft picks that are up there and so that's a team that's got to really set the tempo or a group that's got to set the tempo for our unit and secondly, I've seen improvement in Marcus Davenport and I think as he continues to play I think he's going to continue to improve and continue to get better as he continues to show that improvement you'll see more and more snaps for him."