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Roman Harper Talks About the New Defense

Saints Safety talks about Spag's new scheme


New Orleans Saints Safety Roman Harper
Media Availability
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How far along is the team with the new defensive installation?

"This will be the third time we go through it. There are always little intricacies that Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) seems to want to put in there or throw out there. He's telling us he's going to continue to install as much as we can take in. As long as we continue to learn and get a good grasp of it, we're going to put it into the play on the field. I think he's going to continue to put more on us, just different calls, checks, that he can allow us to do, so we can go out and play the game, and just not let the offense dictate what they want to do to us, but we can dictate to them."

Are you expecting to get as many pass rush and blitz opportunities in this defense?

"You know I can't call that. It's all going to be dictate on how Spags wants to call it on Sundays. Of course I'm going to get excited any time he calls my number. We pay D lineman a lot of money to make some plays and I think this system is really going to cut these guys free. Martez seems really has a nice little first step off the line. Junior (Galette) everybody knows, is a big time third down rusher for us. I can't wait till Will (Smith) gets out there. I think he's really excited about this defense."

Have you been keeping up with Jonathan Vilma's fight with the National Football League?

I don't know all the ends and outs of it completely. So it's been very hard for me to keep up. It seems like it's something else every other day. I just know, when all the chips fall, I hope it works out in my man's favor. I have his back 100%. Whatever I can do to try and help him, I'm all with him. It's just been so crazy, so up and down, but trust me I got his back. I was in that room, so I know what's going on."

Do you go forward as a defense as if he won't be there?

"Yeah you have to, because right now he's not with us. We went through OTA's without him, with his injury or he wasn't allowed on the field. Just right now, in our mind, he's not with us. You have to be able to move on like that. Anything we can get out of him later this season, if he's allowed to play, it's an extra. He just makes us that much better. We get our leader back, the captain of our defense. A cog in this whole team. We get him back. Not only will he be able to help us on the field, but tremendously off the field, with his eyes, work ethic, leadership, you just can't replace that. We did very well, (with) Mickey Loomis, bringing in (Curtis) Lofton and (David) Hawthorne, and those guys are big time players. I didn't know how good Lofton and Hawthorne were until I saw them in real life. (Chris) Chamberlain is a big time, quick guy, he knows the defense extremely well, so he's a couple steps ahead of us. I didn't even know Hawthorne, because he was playing in Seattle. I've seen him flash on film a little bit. Now I get to see him and work with him. Great Guys, great teammates, amazing players too."

Do you prefer the new defense over ones you have played in in the past?

"I've played the majority man to man coverage, from college to when Gregg (Williams) was here, but it's great. Now you get to see some more eyes on the ball. I think we get to react more on the quarterback, and get some better breaks, instead of always putting our back to the quarterback. Now we actually get to see the quarterback and react to him. And now we might make a play.  Or a tipped ball or something, someone might see it now, where in a man to man you won't be able to see it. So I think it's going to have different aspects to it, but I think we will still be able to blitz a lot. But now we get some zone blitzes and things like that. Now we're making the QB not always know we're going to be in man to man on third and two and third and three, which we usually would be. Now we can throw some zone in there, different scheme looks, and things like that. We can mix it up a lot more."

Despite all the adversity do you still think the team can be successful?

Of course, but in this business, nothing is given. Everyday you have to come in and earn your respect. Nothing is guaranteed to anybody. I think Joe Vitt said it great when some guys we already know who might be there, but it still means you're a professional. You're going to go out there and show your peers you deserve to be on the field. You deserve every check you get, and you got to come to work. Especially in this locker room, where everybody respects work and hard work, the most, and that's what's it's about here."

Is having Drew Brees here going to give the Saints the "here we go" attitude?

"I was never shocked or worried about Drew not signing a contract, and I think anyone who was worried should be slapped, because it was going to happen. It's just better for this this team, for this whole city. It was going to happen. But all's it mean, now that I see Drew, is that we're about to start work. It's exactly what it is. The timing of it, it means it's time to kick it up another level. We can put all this other stuff behind us and move on, and get ready to try and win us a championship, which is our main goal."

What did Drew mean about the personality of the team emerging?

"We'll form it in training camp. Whenever you get to be in that room with guys, and working together, and we're all joking and playing. We get a sense of our coordinator and Spags, and get we all take shape and form. Each team is different. This will be my seventh year, no team is the same. Every personality is going to be a little different. Everybody has their own little niche in the defense. We all have to learn it, and once we do that, we'll be just fine. We'll see it on the field. I couldn't sit up here and tell you a honest answer about the personality of our defense, because I don't know. We'll learn it through these dog days coming up. And hopefully we'll be better for it."
Do you think having only one practice a day will slow the defense install down?

"No, I don't think so at all.  The biggest thing is you've got more classroom work now, so you can actually sit down. Everybody learns differently. Some people learn when you actually show it to them. Some people learn better when you have to write it down, or see it on film. Me, I'm more of a on the field guy. I need to see it once twice, then all of a sudden I got it. And that's how it's better. I get to write it down in the classroom, go over it again in the classroom, gives time for the coaches to install the little details, that you may not be able to always install when you're always on the go trying to get back to practice so fast. We can walk through the practice in our walk through, and after that, we can actually play against Drew, and chase him those guys, and see how it works. I think that's how you have to get out there and learn it. We actually will be learning it two or three times every time we go out there."

Can the team still have the same expectations as it had before all the setbacks?

"Because the talent on this team is tremendous, the skill set, personality, attitude, how much we actually care about each other's feeling. Nobody wants to let anybody down. I think that's the biggest thing. As long as we all know we have to show up on work on Sundays, and go out there and compete, because talent's not a problem. Talent's not a problem with most NFL teams. It's all about character, everybody being on the same page, and trying to achieve the same goal for the right reasons. No matter the highest man on the totem pole, to the lowest man, everybody wants to win. We always trying to do it for the man beside you, we're all going to war together with the same mindset. That's to win, and do whatever it takes to win. I think we continue to get that, and continue to gel early, we'll be just fine. And that's what you what, that's what you want to be a part of.

Are you more motivated than normal?

"Everybody has a chip on their shoulder, some bigger than others. It's defiantly a lot of outside reasons, to really have a chip on your shoulder if you wear a Saints jersey this year, it's got to be that way. You've got to be hungry and ready to go get it. It's just another reason. I feel this city, thinks everyone's against us, and I know how our guys feel in the locker room. But the biggest thing is we have to go out and compete and earn it. Nobody is going to give us anything. Now nobody really expects us to do much, so it makes it even better for us."

What do you think of Joe Vitt's new role

"I just get excited any time Joe gets up here in front of you guys and doesn't say the f word. That means it's getting better and better. I get nervous every time he's up there. The thing about Joe, is he's such a personable guy. He's always smiling, and happy and joking. He's a lot more busy first of all. He always seems like he has to go somewhere.  Doug Miller, and all the media guys, are always pulling him somewhere…..Got to here and got to do this.  Joe never liked to do all of that before. He seems like he's more personable. He talks to more guys in the locker room. He has to talk and learn all the offensive guys, really try and get involved in this whole head coaching thing. I think he's really enjoying it. I love Joe to death. He's been here since I've been here. He knows the personality of this team like the back of his hand. He can spit off players names from the 60's. 70's, the lineups. He doesn't forget anything. He can always tell you a story about anything and relate it. I think that's the great thing about him. When he's up in the room, he's going to shoot it straight. He's going to tell us what exactly we need to hear and how we need to get motivated. He's going to let us know the angle he's coming from about what he wants us to get done. That's why I like Joe. He knows the heartbeat of our team, he coached us a lot of the season last year, when Sean (Payton) went down with that unfortunate injury. We're going to be just fine. This team is going to be good."

Did you think you personally might be sanctioned from the League?

"The only reason it was in my head, was that I saw my name on the ESPN bottom ticker. But other than that, I knew I hadn't done anything crazy or malicious intent to try and hurt somebody or anything like that. So I wasn't worried about it deep down inside. But you know anytime people want to try and put your name into a pot that's boiling you might get burned a little bit. So other than that, I was good. I knew myself personally what I've done and so I wasn't too worried."

Will you do anything different between the lines this year?

"No, I won't. I don't think I don't anything outside the lines that's crazy. Of course sometimes you hit people, but that's football. It's a physical sport. But no I'm not going to change the way I play football. I play it the way it's supposed to be played. When my dad tells me I'm doing something crazy, that's when I stop."

Do you thing Sean Payton brought Gregg Williams in to create a different culture?

"I think Sean's idea was he wanted the defense to have a sense of identity. So often before he (Williams) got here, it was all about the offense, that was the only time you hear the dome cheer. That's was Gregg's biggest thing. He said a home field advantage is created when the defense is on the field to where the opposing offense can't communicate. When your offense is on the field the crowd has to be quiet, so that your offense can make plays, then they cheer afterwards. The whole thing is making the crowd cheer all game long when their offense is on the field and that's how you get a advantage. He wanted us to play fast, play physical, and don't apologize for anything. Just go out there a play. Blame him, if you miss an assignment it's ok, as long as you're playing fast and all of the page its ok. That was the identity we had. We wanted to play fast  and that's exactly what he did. And now under Spags (Spagnuolo), I think we're going to continue to play fast. Spags isn't trying to come in here and change all this other things and our attitude. He loves the way we play. He just uses a different scheme. Different calls. It's not like he's changing the whole thing here. It's a winning attitude. That's what you want to be a part of and we're going to keep that.

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