New Orleans Saints Defensive Tackle Sheldon Rankins*
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, October 23, 2017*
What do you think made the difference in the defense's improvement from the first half to the second half yesterday?
"Just little things. Just some things (where we reacted to what) Green Bay was doing schemewise that we kind of had to move a guy here or slide a guy right there. Just little things that were allowing them to get big gains in the run game. Once we were able to fix those things, we were able to neutralize them for the most part."
Do you think the run defense is playing better than what the numbers say, especially a day like yesterday where you rebounded?
"Yes. If a team has the first drive that Green Bay had against us, I think they had 70 rush yards on the first drive, you put yourself in a hole like that early and the numbers can be a little skewed. Giving up almost 200 yards rushing, regardless of how it happens is unacceptable. We know we still have some things to correct and it is always better correct them on a win. We are able to come out of there with a win, but still have things to correct. We have a team coming in this week, who are going to try and pound the run. We just have to get those things corrected this weekend and look forward to having a better week against the run."
How does having a winning streak and being in first place in the NFC South affect the attitude in the locker room as opposed to last year?
"I think guys are a lot more confident. Mark (Ingram) and I were talking about it yesterday on the plane, we had some tough times yesterday as far as turnovers on offense, allowing them to run the ball the way we did, but nobody batted an eye. Nobody tried to point fingers. Nobody panicked and everybody knew the game was 60 minutes. We played a complete game, 60 minutes to the end. We were able to execute more than they were at the end and I think that is a big difference from last year. Especially with the start we had this year, that can tend to divide a team, but it didn't. We are still a close knit group and we are able to go out there on Sunday and show it."
What do you think changed after the 0-2 start in the big picture with minimal lineup changes?
"I think it is just the guys sticking with the plan. I think after the first two games everybody and their mommas were calling for our d-coordinator's head and just completely trying to say we need to abandon all we have done, but the thing about it is we have confidence in what our coordinators and what our coaches lay out for us to do. It's just a matter of going out and executing. That's all football is at the end of the day, execution. A coach can draw up anything, but if you do not go out and execute it, then it means nothing. We just weren't able to execute in those first couple games, but we've found a rhythm over the past four games and we're just going to look to continue that. Like I said, guys are playing with confidence and guys are having fun and flying around and that's all you can ask for on defense. If you have 11 guys on defense flying around having fun and playing with the tenacity that we've been playing with, it's going to cover up a lot of mistakes. As good as we've been playing, it's not been perfect by any means, but in a sense a game will never be perfect. But all you can do is go out there and play with effort and play with energy and good things will happen."
How gratifying have the last five weeks of the season been for you?
"It's definitely been a pleasant feeling, being able to not only get wins, but wins on the road and that's hard to do in this league. Being able to get big wins on the road at Carolina, a big-time divisional opponent, at Green Bay, Lambeau field is arguably maybe the toughest place to play at, especially when they're rocking. Then having to go across the pond to London and play a game. It's been an enjoyable experience and then now being able to come back home for a couple games and carry this momentum and we know we're going to get that Superdome rocking. It's going to be fun to come back home and try and keep this streak rolling."
New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram II
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, October 23, 2017
What do you feel has been most effective about the running game this year? What has been the difference?
"Our commitment to it. We've been committing to it and scheming up well. Our offensive line, receivers and tight ends just collectively as a unit. We've been remaining efficient, not panicking and just continue to keep pressing. Our preparation's been good. I think we've been executing and our commitment to the running game has been there too. We're just trying to keep that going."
The rushing yards per game average for these six games is the highest for the Saints since your rookie year. Do you see that continuing with the way you and Alvin (Kamara) are running right now?
"We're just trying to make plays when our number is called. We are trying to be efficient. (The) Offensive line, they are thriving in the run game. Tight ends are doing a good job. We are all on the same accord to understand what each other is going to do. We just have to keep improving on it, keep building on it. There are things that we're doing well and there are things that we need to continue to improve on. We have to keep at it."
You have a four-game winning streak going. How well do you feel the team is playing as a whole?
"I feel like we are confident in each other. Everybody is confident in their teammates. We believe in one another, offensively, defensively and (on) special teams. When things happen in the game that aren't in our favor, nobody panics. We just kind of just stand focused, stay even keel, weather the storm and just overcome whatever is thrown at us. We have to keep building on that, thriving together, keep putting together good complementary games as a team, and keep stacking these things one day at a time. Before we can get a fifth win, we have to prepare this week. Chicago is coming in here so we have to take it one day at a time. That's how you win the day. You have to win today before you can win on Sunday."
How is the offense's confidence level affected when you see the defense playing as well as it has for the last month?
"We all thrive off of each other. When we see those guys out there making plays, those guys out there getting off the field, those guys out there getting turnovers, it makes us step up. When those guys are coming off the field, they are turned up, they are excited, it is time for us to hold up our end of the bargain and keep that momentum going. Having big plays, turnovers, stops and their points, that's how teams thrive altogether when you play complementary football, defense, offense, special teams and you keep that momentum going. When things don't happen your way, you don't panic. You stay even keel, weather the storm and you overcome. Just stay with that belief that no matter what happens in the game, we're going to get this done and I think that's what we have as a team right now."
How much pride do you take in you when you and (Alvin) Kamara are both going over 100 yards for scrimmage in the same game?
"We just want to take advantage of our opportunities. We come out and we prepare every single day like we're going to carry this team. When they call our number we want to be able to be explosive and make a difference and be game changers for our team, make plays for our team and put us in positions to win. That's our focus. That's how we prepare every week. We just want to continue to build on that and help our team any way we can when our number is called."
How do you think this team is handling the first place spot in the division? Is it something that you prefer to ignore?
"We have only been in first place for a day. We are not really worried about that too much. There is still so much football to be played. (There are) A lot of good teams in our division. If you get complacent with being in first place right now, you could lose multiple games and be in last place real quick. So you have to keep focused, keep worrying about our next opponent and just worry about winning the day, worry about improving. If we just win each day, win our games and just play how we've been playing, continue to improve, continue to get better, all of that will take care of itself. We've only played one division game, so all of that doesn't even matter. All of our division games will be coming up soon here. We just have to keep winning, keep improving and we'll worry about all of that later."
What do you make of the fact that the NFL is so competitive, you have been a part of a lot of close games with this team over the years, and none of the games in this winning streak have come down to the last possession involving nine points or more? What do you make of that?
"When you go into a game and you say you're going to win, a lot of the games have been close but there's no rule that says it has to be close. We're just preparing and whatever happens in the game, that's what happens. They came out yesterday, had a big play and went up on us seven to zero. We had two turnovers. We were kind of weathering the storm fighting. We were able to weather that storm and just punch through the adversity. We weren't playing ahead. We had to overcome some tough spells and get the big lead coming from behind. We're just focused on whatever that play is, whatever that series is, whatever that day is. Just focusing on the details, improving the details and getting better. We're playing well right now but there are a lot of things that we need to correct if we want to be a championship team, a lot of things we need to correct if we want to keep winning games. That's our focus."