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Quotes from Pete Carmichael and Dennis Allen's Friday conference call

Offensive and defensive coordinators speak to the media on Friday, Dec. 22.

New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, December 22, 2017

*What's gone into you guys making so many interceptions this year? *"I think it has a lot to do with the players. Obviously, having a talented group back there. I think it goes into their ability to study the gameplan, their ability to study the tape, formation tendencies and things that they can expect. I think the coaches have done a really good job of getting these guys ready for it, giving them tips and alerts, but give them a chance to anticipate and go make a play. I think it's a combination of a lot of things and I think both the assistant coaches and the players themselves deserve some credit for that."

How do you compensate for the loss of Kenny Vaccaro*? *"Fortunately for us it's one of our deeper positions. Guys are going to have to step up, Vonn Bell, Rafael Bush and Chris Banjo. Those guys are going to have to step up and perform at a high level. They've done that for us thus far this season and I would expect them to do the same."

*With Vonn Bell, what is the biggest step you have seen him make this year from last year? *"I think as you get with all young players, just the awareness factor of the things that are happening around them and really the anticipation of the types of plays that he could be getting. I think those are things that are learned through the experience. It's hard to just learn it by standing on the sideline or hard to just learn it by sitting in the meeting room. You learn those things by actually going out there and feeling it happen. The more experience he gets, the more playing time he gets, the more I think he's going to continue to improve."

*How much different has it been this year when guys go down. You guys had a lot of injuries at linebacker and some in the secondary. Last year those things really hurt you, this year it feels like it's just more guys capable of filling in? *"Certainly you feel the loss when you lose a productive player, a guy that's been starting for you. But that's the nature of the NFL. It's a game of attrition. The teams, everybody faces it. Everybody has to deal with it. The teams that are best able to deal with that are the teams that are able to continue to have success. I think our personnel department did a really good job in the offseason of acquiring talent and made some moves whether it be through free agency, when you look at guys like Manti Te'o who has come in and done a really nice job for us. Craig (Robertson) has really stepped in and played well for us. When you build your roster and build the depth on your roster all 53 players that are on the active roster at some point are going to be critical to your success. The more complete your roster is, the better chance you have to withstand some of those injuries that come up throughout the league."

*How did George Johnson gain your trust so quickly to play as much as he did last week? *"I think he's a veteran player. Obviously he's played a lot of football. It was a position of need and the obviously with A.J. (Klein) going down, Hau (Hau'oli Kikaha) played a little bit more as an outside linebacker in this last game. It was really based on, we had some trust in him. But it was also, 'man we need you to come in here and play.' I was pleased with the way that he performed. Hopefully he can continue to do that for us."

*Why do you think Hau's season so far and where is his ideal fit in this defense? *"I think he's done a good job for us. I think he adds some flexibility to our defense in the fact that he can play multiple positions. He's been in the scheme and in the system so he kind of has an understanding of what's happening in each position group. I think anytime you can have that type of flexibility in your players, that's another thing that allows you to maybe withstand some injuries that may occur. It's been nice to have."

*Have you ever had a defensive lineman bat four or five passes if you include the two-point conversion that Cam (Jordan) did last year? *"I cannot say specifically, but I can say this, there are a lot of ways that you can affect the passer. Obviously by sacking the quarterback, that affects them. You affect them with coverage down the field. You affect them with hurries, hits and things of that nature. But one of the biggest you can do to affect a passer, is bat the ball down at the line of scrimmage. Every snap you're not going to be able to get to the quarterback. It does not happen in this league. How are you affecting them? And we talk about our guys when you get into your rush and the quarterback's ready to throw you're no longer a pass rusher, you're a pass defender. I think Cam's done a really nice job and really our group in general has done a pretty nice job of how to get your hands up and knock the ball down. The way this league is now, offenses really make it hard for you to get back there and sack them because the ball comes out so fast. So how do you affect the quarterback when they're not allowing you to get to them is you have to get your hand up and knock the ball down."

*It seems like you guys are certainly batting down a lot more passes this year at the line. I know Alex had a significant number of them. Is that something that Ryan Nielsen emphasized? Why do you think the group has been more successful with that? *"Certainly I think Ryan and Brian Young have both done a really nice job with this defensive line. I think they are playing at a really high level. It's one of the areas that we have really looked at to improve. It's just really the game constantly evolves and you have to constantly be paying attention to what the trends are in this league. I don't know exactly what the average from snap to quarterback release, what that timing is, but it just seems to me that it's a lot faster than what it was a few years ago. That's a huge element in pass defense now is defensive linemen getting their hands up and knocking the ball down."

New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael   
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, December 22, 2017

*What do you think the key attributes of a Dan Quinn defense are? *"Well-disciplined. Very well-coached. They fly around. They generate a lot of pass rush. They really live at the explosive plays. They really rally to the football."

*How have you seen him maybe bring some of these same looks from Seattle to Atlanta the past three years? *"I think he's bringing the same defense. There's probably some tweaks based on their personnel, but clearly you see a fast, athletic group that runs around and generates a lot of pass rush and (has) great ball skills in the secondary."

With Mark Ingram II*, how much do you think he's been underrated or overlooked until this year? *"I know that year in and year out for us, we have always been pleased and I think that he continues to consistently get better every season. I think you see it. He is an all-around player. You feel great about him in the run game and the pass game. We are excited (and) happy for him that he made the Pro Bowl."

*If I had asked you back in April or May how surprised would you have been that he could accomplish this with Adrian (Peterson) here, with Alvin (Kamara). How surprising is it that he accomplished this? *"They're obviously a great group. It doesn't surprise me, just his work ethic. The amount of time that he puts in. He's a smart football player. His teammates love him. He plays with a passion. I think that he's very deserving this season."

*With the offensive line, what do you think about Terron's (Armstead) ability to play through injuries? *"First of all, just talking about the whole group and you're talking about Mark, I would say that if you ask Mark or Alvin about their success, I think the first thing they'd talk about is how well the offensive line has played for them as a group. Obviously. Terron has done a great job for us on our left hand side. But as a whole group, they've greatly paved the way for those two running backs."

*Why do you think that group has had so much cohesion this year? Even with the jumbling of the lineup? *"I do think it is a smart group. But I think Dan Roushar does a great job with them week in and week out. They are very passionate about the game. They're here extra time working on their own. They're going through (film), they do a lot of film study on their own. They are great football players and we're glad to have them."

*Does this game feel like a playoff game already? *"It is the next game on the schedule. It is obviously a very important game for us. This game could be a big factor in the outcome of a lot of things going forward. Obviously we have to be at our best."

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