New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael - Conference Call With New Orleans Media - Friday, November 16, 2018
What were your first impressions of Brandon Marshall?
"I think that you got a receiver with good size. He's a big target and he's a quick study. He's been around some of the same terminology so that familiarity with the system or some of the terminology the system. So far, (its been) positive."
How diverse is Brandon Marshall's skillset?
"I think that's one of the strong points of what Coach Payton does, is always find and these guys have roles. Where do they fit and putting them in position to succeed and obviously throughout the week we've been learning that and we'll see where it goes."
How big of a role has Zach Line been playing in what the offense does?
"Obviously, a very big part of what we do. He's such a great team guy and really probably doesn't get enough credit for what he does. You just put on the film and you see him not only handling an assignment, but doing a great job, (is) physical and just such a team player."
Is it harder to find a true fullback these days?
"I think that I would say that position has always kind of been a big part of what we've done here. We obviously have a great scouting department that does a great job finding guys that they think are a good fit for what we do offensively. I think that (position) will always (have a role and) will continue to be a big part of what we do offensively."
Is he even really a true fullback?
"I think he does have some versatility. I think that in our offense we kind of put him in the role that we feel strong with him, but we are not afraid to do some of the things that maybe put him in the same position maybe as the tight end or vice versa, put the tight ends, so between those two groups I think we feel pretty comfortable with where we are at."
What what role does having just so many personnel groupings play in the success of this offense?
"I think that we've always kind of been an offense that kind of we're comfortable with the guys that we have active and want to make sure that everybody has a role on gameday and then really just looking to say, ok let's put the guys in the spot where we feel that they give us the best chance to be successful. That is one thing we spend a lot of time each week, trying to figure out not only what are the schemes, but what personnel for us best fits that scheme. I think that it's just part of this offense is kind of moving guys around put them in the right spots and getting everybody to be a contributor."
What has led to the increased production in the running game?
"I think that our offensive line is playing really well. The tight ends are blocking well. We're doing a great job on the perimeter. We had some really good blocks on the perimeter last week that got us into the second level. I think that as a team I think everybody's contributing to their assignments and again it starts up front those guys are playing really well. Dan Roushar, Brendan Nugent those guys are doing a great job."
What does Dan Roushar do so well as a coach?
"I think like everybody's doing each week, they're studying the opponent. They're trying to figure out what schemes, not only fit us, but maybe have had some success so I think that he just does a great job gameplanning and he's a smart football coach. He does a great job with those guys techniquewise and he's a relentless worker."
How good was it to see Mark Ingram break out last week?
"It's great. I love having him here. He does such a great job, he brings such energy to this team. He's really played well as of late."
If everyone was healthy and up to speed would you still want to see Mike Thomas get all the targets like he's been getting?
"I think this, I think that anytime a play is called there's always a chance with Drew (Brees) that he's going to find the open receiver. The one thing about Mike is we feel confident throwing it to him and feel like he's got such strong hands, even when maybe he's got tight coverage. We feel confident that he's going to come down with a catch. Like you said, it has been kind of in the past we've always spread the ball around. Maybe those numbers don't reflect that as much, but I know that the guys that we have out there we feel comfortable wherever the ball's going."
Is that because maybe the other guys aren't getting open as much?
"I don't think so. I don't think it's that, I think it's just a matter of the way that the game has unfolded. Mike has done a great job getting him some separation, getting himself open and again when it is contested he has done a great job coming down with the ball. I wouldn't say that, I think it's just kind of the way the flow of the game has gone."
How does Dan Rousher's diverse background in coaching help him with the offensive line?
"I think this, I think that not only with the offensive line, he's had experience in all those positions so I think he sees the big picture and he not only does he do a great job with the offensive line. But when he's talking about the run game he understands it from the other positions and really has experience in the pass game as well. Overall he just has outstanding knowledge of the game."
How would you describe Max Unger's and Drew Brees' relationship?
"I think they're very close obviously. You see those two communicating all the time. They spend a great deal of time together, just making sure for each week we're all on the same page. I think they also have a great relationship off the field."
Is their relationship different than others in the past?
"I think he's always been close with all the offensive linemen and really all his teammates. I think that there's just such a respect for each other among those guys, all the positions. I think they just have such a great relationship and I think they love working together."
How have you seen Keith Kirkwood improve this summer until now.
"I think he's a smart football player. You can move him around he can play a couple of different positions. He's got a great attitude, he's hungry and I think that we're all going to be excited to keep working with him as we as we go forward."
Does his background as a basketball player show up in the skills he uses on the football field?
"I would have to admit, I didn't know he was a basketball player. But you'll see him go up and get the ball. He's got good hands. Like I said he's just got such a great attitude and is another team guy that we're excited about."
New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Friday, November 16, 2018
When everyone double teams Cam (Jordan) or slides protection that way is it up to everyone else on the front win their one on ones?
"Whenever you devote a lot of attention to one player, it opens up opportunities for other guys. Certainly I think there's been some guys that have taken advantage of that and that's really what you're looking for. We have the same challenges on defense when you try to take away a certain player and devote more than one person to a certain player then obviously the other guys have to make it make it stand up in terms of coverage. So I think that's one of the things, this league is a matchup league and so it's really about being able to win you're one on one match ups. If they're putting doubles on Cam, there's some other one on one matchups that guys have to win."
Is that extra attention just something he has to deal with because he's a great player or can you work around it?
"Certainly you try to do some things to try to take those doubles away from him. But sometimes, in terms of a plan, offenses say we'll locate him and we'll make sure we slide the protection his way or chipping him or nudging him or something of that sort. And that's just something that he's going to have to deal with. But when our other players are able to take advantage of those opportunities and win their one on one matchups then, obviously, that makes it more challenging for the offense."
How have you seen Alex Okafor progress the last three four weeks?
"I think Alex is playing at a good level for us. I think he's playing well. I see him getting back a little bit to more where he was at last year. I think over the last couple weeks I've seen some better rushes out of him and maybe it's not always getting to the quarterback, but there's a lot of times that he's pressing that pocket back in the quarterback and making it uncomfortable for him."
Is there any correlation that all the blitzing you guys did last week or was that just kind of specific to Cincinnati?
"I think a lot of it has to do with each individual gameplan. I think we go into each gameplan and look at what are our matchups and what's their protection like. I think it's probably as much of a factor of, schematically, we felt like there were some things that we could take advantage of."
How have you seen Eli Apple continue to come along?
"I think every opportunity he has to get out there, practice, play, whatever the case may be and get more and more comfortable within the system to where he's really not thinking about what his job is, he's just really playing football, I think the better he's going to be. I've seen improvement each and every week and that's not easy to do, especially for a young player. He didn't have the fortune of going through training camp and an offseason and all those things with us. And if those things weren't important, we wouldn't have them. Obviously, he's playing a little bit of catch up, but I think each and every week he's getting more and more comfortable."
Have you notice the teams are shying away from Marshon (Lattimore's) side of the field?
"I think they are being selective as to when and where they want to try to attack him. I think that's certainly an obvious thing. But I haven't looked at it as teams just don't want to throw over there at all. I think there's certain times where based on the coverage and based on what we're doing the coverage dictates that the ball's going to go that way. I do think that over the last month, month and a half that he has been playing at a really high level."
He told us about five or six weeks ago that he learned a hard lesson and had to start practicing better. Have you seen that and has that led to better play?
"I don't think there's any surprise that there's been a correlation in his level of play on Sunday's with the way he's gone about approaching practice. I think he's done a lot better job of that in practice and I think his play has shown that. That's part of the maturing process. I think he's growing you know as an individual, as a pro. I think he understands that to be elite at this level you really have to practice at an elite level."
When teams are ignoring him and not throwing his way, how important is it that he stays engaged?
"Certainly that's not something that you have to fight every week. There's only a certain amount of opportunities as a corner that you get in a 60, 65 play game. There may be only a handful of opportunities that you have and so you don't know when those opportunities are going to come. So you've got to make sure that you're on point every play because if you're not that might be the one play or one of the few opportunities that you have and you've got to be able take advantage of it."
What do you think has been behind the recent improvement with the turnovers?
"I think a couple of things obviously. I think we've been able to get out to a lead at times on teams, get them into more of a dropped back passing type of mentality. And I think that leads to better rush. Obviously, better rush affects the quarterback, you throw that timing off and it presents more opportunities for you to have takeaways. Obviously, I think our coverage is continuing to improve and so therefore the quarterback has to hold the ball maybe a little bit more of the pocket and there's some opportunities there for sacks, fumbles, those types of things."
I don't know how much attention you pay to the Saints offense, but just in general when you're playing a team that can use so many different personnel groupings, what's the biggest challenge for a defense?
"Like I said, one of the things about the multiple personnel groupings is they're looking for opportunities and ways to get advantageous matchups. I think that's the biggest challenge when you face multiple personnel groupings is trying to make sure that you have the right matchups to give yourself the best chance defensively and then obviously I think offensively they're saying how can we get a particular player matched up on a guy that they want to have a matchup on that they think they might have an advantage."
How do you stop it from becoming chaotic when it's snap to snap and different guys going into the huddle?
"Certainly, I think your gameplan during the week has to show that. It's challenging. It's very difficult, especially when you have as many playmakers as we have on our offense. Then, obviously, I think we have if not the best. one of the best playing the game at the quarterback position. And he understands where the holes are in the defense, where the matchups are, or if it's zone coverage he understands where to go with the football. It makes it really, really tough."
You guys played Baltimore in October with both Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson and then Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon had the second quarterback too in Jeff Driskel after Andy Dalton. What's that like trying to prepare for two different offensive packages?
It creates a lot of challenges. I think our game, the way our game's going, and some of the college elements that are that are making their way into pro football, the thing with having a quarterback that can run the football and being willing to run your quarterback, the thing that it forces you to do defensively is that forces you to play 11 on 11. So how you scheme things up and how you do things you have to use players that you wouldn't normally use in stopping the quarterback run game. You have to be able to use those players to be able stop the quarterback."
What do you think the difference is between these packages and say like the Miami Wildcat that kind of came and went? Do you think these packages could add some staying power?
"I think, obviously, the biggest challenge is you are doing this with a quarterback. When you when you were in the Wildcat, obviously, you weren't nearly as worried about the guy taking the snap being able to throw the football. I think anytime you're able to use one of your quarterbacks in that position, certainly if you wanted to, you could run your normal offense, your normal passing game. So I think that's probably the biggest challenge that comes with that."