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Quotes from Zach Strief and Curtis Lofton's conference calls on Monday, September 16, 2013

Tackle Zach Strief and linebacker Curtis Lofton spoke with the media members about Sunday's game against Tampa Bay

New Orleans Saints Tackle Zach Strief
Media Availability
Monday, September 16, 2013

What are your overall thoughts about yesterday's game?

"Having watched the tape, there are a lot of kind of unusual looks there.  They do a good job mixing up the fronts.  They do a good job with their games and we have to do a better job of that.  That two minute drill seemed to calm that stuff down a little bit and fortunately we were able to give Drew (Brees) enough time to make plays and he did."

What was your summation of the pass protection from the line?

"When you watch the tape you are saying, you don't see guys necessarily getting beat, you see guys getting loose, not even sometimes on the first game, but on the second.  And again, they do a good job of movement and you see some tough looks.  They really force you to be fundamentally sound, which we weren't all the time.  That's our job, to pick that stuff up and know that the looks aren't easy, but they are looks we have to get."

Is part of that have a lot to do with Tampa Bay being in your division?

"Yeah, divisional games are tough because of that.  They know what you are good at, what you are not good at.  And again, hats off to them for a good plan and their guys executing it.  At the same time, there is a lot of good stuff for us on there to go back and work on so that next time we see those things, it's a little bit cleaner to pick up."

Was run blocking even more frustrating after reviewing that game?

"Yeah, again, some of the movements are tough to simulate in practice.  I think that there are a lot more positive gains in that game than there was in the first one.  There is some stuff in there to build on.  It is frustrating not to be able to get the production that you are looking for and ultimately it is going to make it easier on us so it is really tough to see that.  We have work to do for sure, but I think they give you some tough looks to run into and did a good job getting us out of runs.  We had a lot more runs called that the defensive looks kind of got us out of.  When we get the chances we have to execute them."

How nice is it to have a lot of things to work on but be 2-0 while doing it?

"It's a big difference.  Mentally it's a big difference and I think that we have had some character building these first two games.  I think to go into these games and have a chance to have some of the young guys, some of the news guys start to really believe.  There has been a feeling here for a long time that it's going to take a lot for us to be out of a game, to have no chance with the guy that we have behind center, we always have a shot.  And sometimes guys that haven't played with somebody like that before or maybe that is not a consistent feeling, but two games like this you start saying, boy this team can win.  We can win close games and there are going to be a lot of them, there always is.  Driving in today listening to the radio, they were kind of going through the games that finished with 10 seconds to go, five seconds to go, as the clock runs out.  Every week there is a bunch and having that faith and belief that you have the guys, that your team is going to step up and win games when they need to be won will go a long way.  It's good for those young guys to get those feelings now."

Can you talk about the goal line stand series at the end of the first half?

"Going through the sequence, the first play they covered well. We didn't have anything on that. We were trying to get a little play-action, trying to get Jimmy (Graham) out, and they covered it well. We came back, ran the flip. That play, it's an outside play. It's kind of a deception play and obviously we didn't make the play at the end there to get in. We came back with a weak, probably on the line. I think that play gave a real hard look to (Brian de la Puente). That really tilted nose that didn't quite get over there. It was a good call, a call we really liked in the huddle. On the last play, the fourth play, they gave us a different look. They actually didn't come out in goal line, they came out in an over front. That kind of mucks up the blocking scheme a little bit. At the end of the day, that play has to get in. (De la Puente) would be the first to tell you, 'Man if I just got a naming point on that one, we get in.' I know Mark

(Ingram) says, 'I've got to get through that guy.' It's kind of one-on-one on the goal line. Look, it's a team deal. There's no finger pointing around here. We all take accountability for when it's on us. You look at it and you say, 'These are reasons why we didn't get in.' It's not any one guy, but it can't happen. I know that."

Is the surprising red zone percentage something that you guys need to correct?

"I think we are always confident that we can make corrections to improve things. I guarantee you that'll be a huge focus in the coming weeks. I can remember seasons before, and I don't remember the exact season, but I remember seasons where we struggled early in the red zone. I know Coach Payton will spend a lot of time on that in the next few weeks. Even if we come in this week and play well in the red zone, it will be something that, for the rest of the year, we are spending extra time on. Because, obviously, you look at the end and say, 'Man, we got a great stop, got fortunate with a missed field goal, made some plays, and won the game.' That game could've been over sooner than it was. That's on us. It's really two weeks in a row now that the offense hasn't been able to get in in the red zone with the opportunity to seal the game up, and that's not acceptable. It's not OK, and fortunately our defense has really come up big now in  two games for us. I guarantee you it's something that we can fix and I know we'll spend a lot of time on fixing it."

It seems like your enthusiasm for 2-0 is a little tempered right now.

"No, that's not the case. I watched the tape and literally finished at 10:45. That stuff is all pretty fresh in my mind. And that's the good thing, to sit around with the guys and watch it. You want to hear disappointment in it, because its not good enough. Last night was a good feeling. You get on the plane, you sit down, and its all smiles and laughs and jokes. Then, the reality is the next day when you turn the tape on and say, 'Man, we've got a lot of work to do.' We're very happy to be where we're at. 2-0 is as good as we can be. We haven't played as well as we can play, but the position we're in right now is the best position we could be in. We're excited to not only be 2-0, but 2-0 in the division. That's a big deal. Down the road, these games that were early that maybe we just found a way to win, will come back big. At the end of the year, there's no asterisk next to the stats and the schedule and the final result, or 'Man, they could've lost either one of these.' It just doesn't work like that."

Do you guys on the offensive line feel any difference when Pierre Thomas is in the backfield?

"It's just not something that when you're in the huddle you're looking (for), honestly. I mean we've got enough stuff to worry about other than seeing which running back is in the game. I've said before, the only difference is sometimes, and I don't think so much the case yesterday, sometimes the play-calling is different…more so with (Darren) Sproles, who's more of our nickel guy. You run some different plays with him, but as a lineman you don't really sense the difference necessarily."

New Orleans Saints Inside Linebacker Curtis Lofton
Media Availability
Monday, September 16, 2013

How nice is it to have two games where the defense has played well?

"I think we are a confident bunch and to win the first game with a four down stop and then come to this game and having to get the ball back to our offense, I feel like we are flying pretty high as a defense.  Overall, we still left a lot out there.  We can be better than what we were."

Better in what ways particular?

"Well, stopping the run, just not having so many mental errors and bad alignments and everything.  Definitely, stopping the run, you never want to want a running back to run for 100 yards against us and that is what they did and so we have to do a better job stopping the run.  Also, just everything, our alignment, disguising our coverages and everything pretty much."

How much confidence did it give you when you stopped the Bucs offense and made them settle for a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter?

"It gives us some confidence, but going back and looking at the film and seeing that, we left a lot out there.  It was a great feeling to get off the field and get the ball back to our offense.  We will hang our hat on that, but we are still growing as a defense and this is just the tip of the iceberg for us."

As a defensive player, what's your take on the helmet to helmet hit on Jimmy Graham?

"I think it could have definitely been avoided.  I think it starts with practice.  You have to lower your target and as a defender, the league is concentrating on safety measures.  You have to lower your target and I feel like those hits could have definitely been avoided."

What is it about this defense right now that it's playing to the strengths of a group?

"I would just say that, it starts with our coaches, from Rob (Ryan), Joe Vitt, secondary coaches, Andre (Curtis) and Wesley McGriff, everyone just working together getting us a great plan that works to our strengths and lets us go out and play fast and not have to do any thinking.  Let's put each player in the best position and that's what gives us confidence when we go out and play."

Was it easy to just flush last year?

"Last year is last year, that's in the past.  This is a new team, new defense, new defensive coordinator, so we moved way past that.  We are just focused on trying to grow each day and get better in each game we have taking a step forward in the right direction."

Was there a bit of a scramble in the second half after Patrick Robinson got hurt?

"Losing Patrick kind of hurt, but we have guys that have played the position so I don't think we were at a scramble.  I think it was more about just trying to find the right guys and get them in the right position and once we did that everyone was able to play fast and execute the game plan."

What don't people know about Rob Ryan?

"I don't know what people see; all I know is Rob makes football fun.  He says it's our job but at the same time you have to love your job and enjoy the process.  He is just a great guy, great personality and I love having him as a defensive coordinator."

Can you give an example of how he makes football fun?

"Just the way he conducts his meetings, I have been with three defensive coordinators and Rob (Ryan) just conducts his meetings different.  He changes up the voices, puts up funny pictures, and brings in videos, songs, all kinds of stuff.  Rob just knows, he has a great feel for this defense.  He likes to have fun and we enjoy that too."

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