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Quotes from Sheldon Rankins and Terron Armstead's conference call - Tuesday, October 30

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins and left tackle Terron Armstead spoke to the media on Tuesday, Oct. 30. 

New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Terron Armstead - Conference Call with New Orleans media - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

How do you think you and Ryan (Ramczyk) did handling the defensive ends on Sunday?
"Watching the film, I felt we did a pretty solid job. Of course, I'm sure both of us want to be better. That's the goal. Every week we try to play a perfect game. Me personally, I saw a little bit more push than I would have liked."

Can you grade your level of play this season? Do you feel like it's as good as it's been?
"I feel like I'm a better player than before in years past with experience, knowledge of the game, speed of the game. I feel like I'm a better player. I won't necessarily put a grade on myself. I just want to play well and play well every play, every week and try to help the team win."

What kind of challenge does this Rams front pose on Sunday?
"It is definitely going to be a challenge for sure. We have seen some really good defenses so far this year and some really great fronts. This is going to be a lot of the same. We know the names (that) you know (as well) that they have up front, but collectively those guys do a lot of things together that help the guys with the names looking for one on one opportunities or do things to their strengths. We have to have a plan and plan in place from the coaching staff and then from our offensive line to do what we can to be most effective."

I don't know if you've had a chance to watch them much yet, but how much do (Ndamukong) Suh and (Aaron) Donald line up on the edge?
"Donald not so much. Suh has been a few times mostly on the right tackle. I don't think (Michael) Brockers gets enough credit. I feel like he's in that conversation with the other guys, but he's on the left tackle some and the right tackle some. They move around quite a bit so you don't know exactly where they're going to (or where) they're going to line up when you break the huddle, so that that's an advantage for them."

Has this current stretch of games felt at all like a playoff stretch?
"Yes. We've got a good strong run of teams right now that feel like they can be playing in late December and January. We're trying to take it one game at a time and looking forward to any other opponents. Whatever our next opponent is, complete 100 percent focus energy going into that one and that just so happens to be the Rams."

What do you think about what your team has been able to do defensively to kind of get you guys back to ball and those kinds of things during this winning streak?
"Yeah. Defense has been huge, especially with the turnovers. That fumble and fumble return on Sunday was definitely the turning point of the game. Minnesota had some momentum going and had an opportunity to put a few more points (on the board) before the half. For us to take points off the board and then we go in and score and just never look back after it, that was definitely the turning point of the game."

You made a pretty strong case for Drew Brees as the GOAT earlier this year. Do you think he needs you as an MVP campaign manager since he's never won that award?
"He speaks for himself. His play speaks for itself. His resume speaks for itself. He doesn't need me to be his spokesperson. We'll have some crazy Who Dats that are going to be chanting 'Brees for MVP.' It's about time for him to win that award."

The stats are obvious in the big games, but how about these games where you guys grind it out a little bit at Baltimore and Minnesota? What does he do that people might not appreciate?
"He's a big reason for us being able to grind it out. Sometimes a team's got to take somebody out of the box because of his ability to get the ball down the field and our balance. Not knowing exactly where we're going to attack you even when we have a lead. Drew always throws in one or two passes just pinpoint, accurate, safe passes that kind of keep the defense of balance like they are definitely not expecting that. And then he rips one to Mike Thomas, Ben Watson, or Tre'quan (Smith). So you know he's always dangerous. He's always dangerous."

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins - Conference Call with New Orleans media - Tuesday, October 30, 2018

What are some of the challenges the Rams offense presents?
"All the challenges really when you think about it, they have an MVP (candidate) at running back, arguably one of the top five players in this league with the way he's playing, Todd Gurley. Jared Goff has really come into his own. He's getting comfortable within the scheme. He's trusting his playmakers to go out there and make plays. Then on the edge they've got a trio of wide receivers, (Brandin) Cooks, (Cooper) Kupp and (Robert) Woods who can really hurt your defense on any given snap. Then their tight ends are play-makers as well. Then they have a good group up front on the offensive line with (Andrew) Whitworth and (Rodger) Saffold. Definitely a challenge, that's why they are rolling right now and they can kind of attack defenses in a variety of ways. But we're going to grind the tape this week and see what we can do to put a stop to that."

How do you think you guys have played defensively the last couple of weeks and do you guys kind of look forward to situations where you go into the game and the other defense seems to have a little bit more notoriety and for you guys to play the way you have the last few weeks?
"I think obviously the past couple weeks, we've found ways to make plays when we needed them and that's big in this league on defense, you're not always going to play a perfect game on defense. You're not always going to shut a team out or do all the things you necessarily want to do, but in certain situations when you can come up with plays that can shift the momentum of the game, that speaks to your team. Definitely going into this game, obviously we know they're going to talk about the Rams defense and what they're able to do on their side of the ball. But we feel we're just as talented of a group as they are and we look forward to the challenge of being able to come in and not only compete, but try to dominate this game."

How much better does their offense look now, than it did last year when you played them last year?
"Now I think it's definitely evolved and I think they trust Jared Goff a lot more. I think they're pretty much putting it in his hands and he pretty much can do whatever he wants to do out there, if he sees something he can attack it. He is not hesitant at all and then when you think about the addition of (Brandin) Cooks, someone who can pretty much out run just about any DB in this league. When you have those things and obviously Todd Gurley being Todd Gurley and the offensive line is playing well up front, when you add all of it together they present a tough path. Like I said, it's football and we look forward to the challenge and we look forward to being able to go out there on Sunday and really attack them."

What stands out about Todd Gurley in particular?
"I think it really starts with the obvious, we know what kind of runner he is with the ball in his hands and he's strong. He's able to get to top speed really fast. He runs through contact, arm tackles don't bring him down, his balance, he can score from anywhere on the field and then the thing that's really started to take off with this game under (Sean) McVay is his ability out of the backfield. They can spread him out with the wide receiver, he can create mismatches on linebacker, safeties or out of the backfield they can scheme some things to kind of get ahead in some situations where he can flourish. I think as talented as he is as a runner and then you add in the fact that he's just as dangerous as a receiver. That gives defensive coordinators headaches. Definitely going to be something we're locked in and keyed on and we just have to be able to stop him as best we can."

Does it make it more challenging when they spread the field out?
"Yeah, I mean that definitely presents a challenge. They're not lining up with three tight ends, than a fullback and try to run it right downhill. Like you said, they are spreading it out, they're counting the box and pretty much create a situation where there is a favorable (matchup). They put Todd Gurley in a situation where he's either, one on one with a player and they like him in those situations or he's not even getting touched sometimes till he gets to the second or third level. It definitely presents a challenge with the way they format things and jet motions and turbos and different things like that. We're just going to trust in DA (Dennis Allen) our coordinator to kind of put us in the best position to go out there and play what they do and we're going to go out there and play our butts off."

What do you think has led to the turnaround in the run defense this year compared to last year for you guys?
"It's something we have harped on since the first day of OTAs. We put our last year's stats up and we're able to look at it and kind of see what Philadelphia did well, what Minnesota did well, I think Minnesota was the number one ranked rush defense something like that and then Philadelphia was number four or something like that or vice versa one of two. But they were highly ranked rush defenses and then obviously they were able to get after the passer and different things like that. That's where it starts, if you can keep teams to third and sevens, third and eight, you're able to put yourself in favorable situations and rush the passer, (create) longer developing routes down the field. It works out better for your defense. It's something we've harped on all throughout training camp. We've always harped on being able to stop the run and not just stop the run with blitzes and different things like that. With us our front four with two DTs (defensive tackles), two ends being able to set edges, build a wall inside and allow our linebackers to kind of come downhill, tee off and we've been successful thus far."

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