New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Friday, January 18, 2019
What's the first thing that stands out to you about that two-headed emerging rushing attack the Rams have had the last couple of weeks with C.J. (Anderson) and Todd (Gurley)?
"I think they are running the ball exceptionally well. I think both of them kind of bring a little bit different aspect to the running game. Obviously, Gurley I believe is a little bit more explosive and C.J. is probably a little bit more of a power back. But in terms of the plays that they run, really not a lot in terms of different plays. It's really the same plays. But I think they run the ball exceptionally well. I think they block exceptionally well in the running game. I think their offensive line does an outstanding job. I know Aaron Kromer does a great job with those guys. I think their tight end, receivers, all of them with exception of the quarterback and the guy carrying the ball are doing a great job of blocking in the running game and I think that's probably the thing that kind of differentiates this team from others is the way that their whole team really buys into the blocking aspect of the run game."
What's the thing that stands out above (Sean) McVay as a play-caller? If you're looking at it as a defensive coach, is there anything that stands out?
"I think he is an aggressive play-caller. I think he is always looking for his opportunities to take his shots down the field. I think he does a really good job of mixing things up. I think he does an outstanding job of giving you the same look, but yet running different plays with it. All the play action that comes off. The same running game. The same formations. Then they will do a good job of giving you some window dressing to kind of get your eyes looking at it with some of these fly motions and things of that nature. Kind of get your eyes looking at one spot and then also they are running the ball or running one of these play actions. I think he does a really good job of calling the game. I think they do a great job of setting up the gameplan to try to attack what you do defensively."
Having spent a few seasons now around Drew (Brees) and I know you're not studying super closely on offense, but I wonder from a defensive coach's perspective what stands out to you about the way he sees a football field and his vision during plays?
"Certainly I do not get a chance to study it as much, but I do know that going against him in practice and things of that nature he is just extremely intelligent. There are not a lot of looks that you can give him that he has not seen. It does not take him very long to process the information in terms of what you are doing defensively. He knows exactly where the defense is supposed to be so he understands how to maneuver defenders to get them in position where he wants them so he can open up throwing lanes. Drew is a pro's pro. His preparation's remarkable. The fact that he can be so disciplined in his routine's pretty amazing. Look, I talk to our defense at times about (watching) this guy prepare and how he prepares and for us to try to emulate that."
What have you seen from David Onyemata's progression since you guys drafted him three years ago?
"I think he's getting a better understanding of our game and how this game's being played. He had very limited football knowledge when he first got here. The thing about him that's so impressive is he's such a quick learner. It's one thing to learn assignments and what you're supposed to do in a certain situation. It's another thing to instinctually be able to react when things happen on the field and that's where I think his progression has come. He's beginning to get a better feel in terms of the run game, the passing game, of things to expect when he gets a certain look, a certain block, (or) a certain type of pass set. I think that's where he's really improved. He's been a big part of what we've been able to do defensively and certainly that's been a plus for us."
Have you seen Alex Jenkins progress in a similar way?
"Look, certainly, he's done a really good job for us. He's been on the practice squad. He is played in a lot of preseason games and certainly you see the growth of him from where he was when he first got here to where he is now and it's kind of the same the same thing. The more experience you get in working in games or in practice the better you kind of understand what's happening when the play begins to develop."
You've mentioned that this young secondary might have to go through some growing pains early this season. Was there a point, whether it was regular season or playoffs that you feel like that whole unit together clicked?
"I don't know exactly when that when that would be. We all kind of went through some changes there. We struggled a little bit early. Kind of got back go on a little bit in the mid part of the season then we make the Eli Apple trade. We bring him in. There's a process that goes on there of trying to get him acclimated to what we're doing defensively. But I would say there was probably, in the late part of the season, the last probably five to six games or so where I felt like we had a pretty good feel for what we were doing in the back in and I thought things kind of locked in a little bit probably in that area."
Was it almost like a one game, one week to the next progression as far as that unit goes that stood out to you the most on marked improvement?
"Look, it'd be hard for me to point to one particular game or one particular instance. I think it's a process. I don't think that you ever go from, well it's not clicking it's not clicking and then boom all sudden it is. I think it's just an evolutionary process that happens over time. And I think as we've gone through the season and our guys have gotten more experience working together I think we've begun to play better."
As you've watched football over the last couple years and as offenses started to score more points, is there anything in particular that stands out to you that would explain the success of teams that have really great offenses?
"I would say the first thing that stands out to me is, as the rules have changed, they've allowed more access to the offensive players. The illegal contact rules, the way they call pass interference, the hits on defenseless players, all these things are really designed to help the offense, help score points which helps the league in terms of excitement for the fans and things of that nature. I think that's probably the biggest factor and then I think as play callers in the NFL, I think you've seen some of the college elements that have been brought in that NFL coaches now are using which kind of expands the playbook and gives some different looks for the defense to have to deal with."
Are coaches getting better and better at exploiting those rules. Does it only get tougher for you as a defensive coach?
"Certainly I've seen over the last few years where some of these rules that I don't know maybe they weren't taken advantage of before, but now they are. One rule in particular I believe is where the offensive player can come in and basically block a defender who's covering somebody within one yard of the line of scrimmage and that's totally legal. That is certainly something that you see show up a ton, especially versus teams that play man to man coverage."
It seems like the rules came in and it just helped offense because teams could run their regular stuff, but it almost seems like teams are designing plays with those particular rules in mind. Is that right?
"Certainly I think that they are and certainly I think that's part of our game. I think the better teams, the better coaches understand what the rules are and they try to take advantage of those rules when they can."
Did something click with Von Bell this offseason just to make him a more consistent player for you?
"Again, I don't think it's click. I think it came through a lot of hard work, a lot of preparation, and an embracing the process of getting better. Certainly I think he's done that. I think if you come to work every day, you work your tail off, and you're trying to get better on a daily basis, if you had the athletic ability and the talent and mentally you can handle the focus aspect of it I think you get better. Certainly he's done that."
I know you guys and spend a lot of late nights in the facility game planning and all that stuff. How do you just as a person manage maybe not getting as much sleep as you would otherwise get?
"Here's what you do in our profession because we're paid to win and you do your job and whatever that takes that's just what you have to do. I think that really probably would apply to any person that's having success at the highest level. Certainly we feel like we have been able to do that and there's sacrifices that you have to make to be able to accomplish those things. But ultimately we've got a job to do. Our job is to go out and win football games and whatever it takes to get that done that's what we've got to do. It's just certainly part of the job and you deal with it and you move on."
Is it something that becomes easier to deal with over time after you do it for a while to try to sneak a couple winks in here and there?
"I tell you living off of five hours of sleep on a weekly basis probably doesn't ever get easy. But again, that's part of trying to be successful at the highest level in any occupation that you're in. You have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and so that's just part of the deal."
New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Friday, January 18, 2019
What do you think is Sean Payton's best attribute as a play caller?
"I think that going into the games he's so well prepared and he knows exactly kind of as the situations (that) come up and arise, he knows exactly where he wants to get to on the call sheet and so he keeps that tempo going and he keeps a rhythm going, but obviously it starts with his preparation during the week."
What do you think Terron Armstead did to take his game to the next level and become a Pro Bowler and do you think his athleticism shows up on the field?
"Absolutely, the things that you just said about him absolutely show up on the field and he's such a competitive, highly productive player for us and I think he's been one of the best in the league for a while. Congratulations to him, he's well-deserving, but I think we've felt that way about him since the beginning."
Do you think it takes awhile for lineman to reach those kinds of accolades?
"I don't know if that's necessarily the case, but I know how the people in this building and his teammates feel about him and we're glad we have him."
What comes to your mind when you think back to starting here in 2006?
"For me I was just so excited about the opportunity to come here and I was coming from (being) a quality control coach, to being a full time position coach. But obviously at that time there was obviously some challenges even just looking around trying to find homes at that time. But I'll tell you what, my wife and I and our family we love it here. We could not be in a better situation."
Why do you think Sean Payton and the city have clicked so well together?
"I think just at the time when the city needed something to bring it up and to raise it and the city has such passion and love for the team and the team had success early when Sean (Payton) and Drew (Brees) first got here and I think the fans are the best around and it was just everybody embraced it and we just kind of thing that really could bring everybody together and just have one purpose."
Why do you think the best teams in the league are scoring the most points?
"I think that for us, speaking about the Saints, we've been successful in the years that we have been able to not only throw the football, but run the ball efficiently. Our best years are being able to run the football and then that leads to more success with the passing game and then on the flipside, when you are taking the ball away, playing well against the run. Those are all things that combine to help us offensively when all of a sudden the time of possession for us in our favor, all those things lead to more productivity for us."
Why do you think the strong offenses made it to the final four and similarly ranked defenses were not able to make it?
"I'd say speaking for any team. I think that it's about the way, I should really just talk about us. We have such a great (team). We've won so many games this year as a team and whether it's the defense playing really well or the offense. We've won these games as a team and I think that's one thing when the whole team can go out and rely on each other. I think that's when you have your most success."
What do you think a football field looks like to Drew Brees?
"I think he's able to probably now narrow his focus down to the areas on where he needs to by play, by defense, what is he seeing and I think that he knows exactly where to put his eyes, so he's probably reduced the field in his mind for specific plays and specific (to) what he's seeing defensively and obviously he sees so much and he could be looking one way and just knowing exactly what's happening on the other side of the field. He obviously has great vision. He sees everything, but he's probably also not only to be able to see everything, but focuses his eyes on one area. But then still somehow (he) knows what's going on the other side of the field."
Does that just come from preparation or accumulation of experience or can that be trained through time?
"I think its combination of both. I think its experience, him kind of maybe having a feel for how a play feels based on his footwork, but also just his ability, just his preparation like you're saying it's just off the roof. He's just able to go into a game knowing exactly (what he wants to do) and it's really the preparation on the practice field with knowing exactly, not only what the defense is doing, but where's the receiver going to be, what's he going to do against this coverage and he spends so much time with those guys making sure that by the end of the week it's right."
How much sleep do you get on average throughout the season?
"Yeah, well I'll get a good night's sleep tonight. Let's just put it that way. Everything we do during the week has a purpose. Some weeks might be longer hours than others, it's just a matter of making sure when the night's over that we feel good about the next day."
How do you manage getting less sleep throughout the season?
"I think that when you love what you do, when you're surrounded by great character people you love…I love coming into work every day, so it's not hard to get out of bed because I know I'm going into a great situation and I know that the day is going (busy) (and) it's going to be a lot of work, but it's worth it and it has a purpose and we're all working together. The great thing (is) no one has any egos. We're just all trying to get better together."