New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with New Orleans
Friday, September 22, 2017
What are some of the challenges this week preparing for the Carolina Panthers and your depth at the cornerback position?
"I think the challenge is that this is an offense that/s very talented. I think it's a good offense with the quarterback (Cam Newton who) was the MVP of the league two years ago and this was a team that played with a chance (to win) in the Super Bowl. I think it is a tough challenge. They have a couple big receivers specifically in (Kelvin) Benjamin. I think their doing a really good job in the run game. Obviously, (Christian) McCaffrey adds an added dimension to their offense and then we'll have to see what they're doing with the tight end position based on the loss of (Greg) Olsen, but they've got some guys that have been able to step up and play in that position. (Ed) Dickson's done a nice job for them and back when he was with the Ravens he was the primary receiving threat."
How much easier is it for those guys to adapt to losing cornerback depth?
"I think that's one of the things, we're playing with a lot of young players back there in the back end and their ability to get adjusted and understand really what we are trying to do in the scheme of things and get some plays under their belt where they begin to anticipate things and not react to things and that's the key with the young players, is getting them to a point where they are anticipating rather than reacting."
How has Ken Crawley practiced this week and how is his confidence?
"I think that is the reality of the NFL. There are only so many guys that are up in a given week and its part of the deal and part of the challenge and that's why you always have to prepare every week as if you are the starter because you never know when you're going to be out there. I think he's had a good week of practice and I think if he's called upon I think he will be ready to go."
What is your evaluation of P.J. Williams so far?
"I'd say a little inconsistent, some up and down. I think he's had some challenges with his eyes at times, which has caused him some challenges in man-to-man coverage, but when he's on point and he's playing with the right technique and has his eyes in the right spot he does some really good things. I think with all young players the biggest thing is just trying to eliminate those inconsistencies and just become a more consistent performer and he has the ability to do that. Again, that comes with experience, that comes with playing time. Here is a guy that's played really three NFL games and really about a quarter of play against the Giants. P.J. is still a young player and he still just has to work through some of those challenges of inconsistency."
Do you think the inexperience of that group as a whole has led to the struggles through these two games?
"Yes, I think that's part of the challenge that we have in front of us, but at the end of the day we've all got a job to do, we've got to go out there and put those guys in a position where they know exactly what to do and can be able to go out and execute and I think that's our job as coaches."
What are some of the issues Kenny Vaccaro has been dealing with?
"I think with all of us on defense right now our challenge has been just the consistency of doing our job on every single play and that's something we've got to do a good job of as coaches is making sure that we can put the guys in position that they can form the best and try to limit the times when we ask them to do things that maybe they aren't quite as good at. I think that's really been our challenge defensively. I don't think that's specific to any one player. I think that's a challenge defensively."
Are there any reasons why you haven't gotten that consistency you want?
"I think a lot of it has to do with the youth on the team and the communication factors, but I have seen some improvement in our guys and improvement in this defense, but what happens is when you have that one lapse of focus or one lapse of putting your eyes in the wrong spot and all of a sudden you are giving up a big play. That changes the momentum of the game. When you really look at the first two games of the season, I really believe if we do a good job on that first third down of the game and can get off the field on third down because we have done a good job early on in the game of getting these teams to third downs. Our challenge has been getting off the field on third down and when you continue to give the other team opportunities then they take advantage of that. We have to do a better job with our third down defense and being able to get off the field."
Have Kenny Vaccaro's issues been more when he's playing deep or is it both when he's up in the box?
"Obviously Kenny's a really good player the closer we keep him to the line of scrimmage and really that is my job, to make sure I am putting him in those positions to let him really accentuate the things that he really does well. There are a lot of things that Kenny Vaccaro does really well and I think that is the thing that we have to continue to work with and continue to focus on defensively as a coaching staff."
How do you think the pass rush has come together so far?
"You are always wanting to get more pass rush, you are always wanting to create more pressure on the quarterback, but I think if you look at that game specifically last week there are some times where Tom Brady's really getting the ball out extremely fast. Pass rush and pass coverage must work together and we have to do a better job of making the quarterback hold the ball for another count to give our pass rush a chance to get there and then when we do make them hold the ball for a count then we've got to be able to affect the quarterback up front."
What was the message to the defense heading into this week and then how was their energy level the last few days of practice?
"I think we've had good energy, I think the biggest message is we have to keep grinding and get ourselves out of this hole. That's part of the NFL, you are going to face adversity in the NFL and how you respond to that's going to be critical to your success. We go to work every week and get ourselves ready to play, get ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally ready to play and we will face this challenge this week and then all of a sudden next week will be a different challenge. That is part of the way it goes in the NFL."