New Orleans Saints C Max Unger
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, November 6, 2017
Offensive line-wise, have you seen a team that has the kind of upheaval that you guys have on the line? Multiple guys have played every position except yours.
"Yes, it stinks, but it is kind of a testament to the depth that we have and the depth we have been able to build here and have guys come in and play out of position and not really have a drop in production. It is part of the game. There are five O-linemen out there. There is a good chance that somebody's going to get hurt, so it's kind of a next man up mentality. But we've had a tough run."
As the guy that's in the middle and making those calls, do you find yourself at some point in time having to settle things down either on the field or in practice?
"We've done a good job of rotating in practice. We've had some moving parts. For the most part everyone's been right on the same page. Coach (Dan) Roushar's done a good job of breaking it down and getting people experience in places that they haven't naturally been. I really haven't had to do too much calming down. I think everybody's been kind of, not okay with the situation, but able to adapt to it."
You're the only one that's actually played every snap at your own position the entire season, did you envision that at all being possible going through your own injury issue this offseason?
"Late surgeries are never really in the offseason plan. (I had a) Good surgery, awesome rehab with our staff here and I got to come back early and play. Honestly, no I didn't think that I would be back (as early as I was) but it turned out that I was able to get back and play okay."
If you just isolate you and Alvin Kamara on that screen pass, I think you had him all the way up until about the 50-yard line. Did you think you could keep up with him the whole way?
"Yes, I got hit pretty hard. I thought he was down honestly until he kind of stopped. That's never a good idea in an NFL football game to assume somebody is down so he made a heck of a play and that's a good lesson learned. He's going to keep going."
I know you're a pretty humble guy, but offensive linemen are known for toughness, how much pride do you take on your athleticism on screen passes and things like that which are obviously a big part of this offense?
"We've been working pretty hard on our screen game. This was actually a point of emphasis toward the end of last year, this offseason and definitely training camp. It's an element of our game that we want to feature. So there's been, from our entire staff, an emphasis on this. I think that a lot of that relies on us being able to execute these plays and detail them up and I think we've done a good job with that. That part of our game is where we want it to be right now."
Is there any method to recovering a fumble the way you did?
"We practice it every Thursday. You never want to be the guy recovering a fumble like that. You just have to get down there and grab it."
When we've talked to opposing coaches they've mentioned how good the Saints screen game is so they're obviously trying to prepare for it and they know it's coming and they still can't stop it. In your experience, what has to come together for something to be predictable but yet still tough to stop?
"It's a variety and it's tendency breakers. Honestly, Drew (Brees) does a good job of putting up in a position to be able to get out and block the linebackers, if they are hugging in the back. If it is a zone, he kind of lets us know. It is definitely gameplan stuff. Sean (Payton) and Dan (Roushar) and our (coaching) staff are always out there looking for an element for the screen game to pop because you can get really explosive plays with them. But, yes like I said earlier it's a part of our game we've been focusing on for a little while now because we saw a need for it."
Is there any part of your game that you felt you've gotten better at or expanded in your years in New Orleans because of the switch in offenses or just your own natural evolution?
"It's a lot of different offenses out there. But for the most part they are pretty similar. Along those lines there is a lot of improvement out there just watching the film from this week. As a group there's a lot we can do better and myself definitely. But as far as specific things, we'd be on this phone for a while if I had to name them all off."
Well what's number one? What's your most proud of that you've developed in your game in the last couple of years?
"That's a hard question. I don't even know how to answer that. Sorry. I have nothing for you man. It's hard to isolate yourself when you rely on the guy to the left and the right of you so much It's a lot more than just kind of being solo out there."
New Orleans Saints LB Craig Robertson
What sticks out about the way the defense has played over the last six weeks?
"Really just the confidence and the preparation guys are putting in. Guys are anticipating and making plays and guys (are) having celebrations ready. It's just a fun atmosphere to be around to be honest."
Do you guys feed off of each other?
"Definitely. We definitely do. We're playing a complementary defensive game. Guys are holding up on the back end really well and it's making our pass rushers get there, even when we don't hold it up as well, our pass rushers are getting there. So it's just kind of feeding off each other and letting things go and having fun out there."
If you could put a finger on a signature moment during the first part of the season, where was the turnaround from the first two games that you lost and the defense struggled in to where you are now?
"That's a tough question. Honestly I don't have the answer for you. But I would say it was something that didn't happen in a game. It was more so something that happened in practice. Just guys who are just fully committed. Things we are doing now and we're doing in practice and it just kind of started after we started slow in those first two games. We started practicing differently as a defense and things went just on a roll after that."
Do you guys feel like you made some strides against the run yesterday?
"We did. Obviously they did not run the ball as much as they wanted to just with us jumping up on the score and just trying to get back into the game. But when they did run the ball we didn't let any explosive runs get us. We let the quarterback get out of the pocket a couple of times which kind of goes on our run defense. But other than that, I feel we played solid in the run game. The biggest part's not letting explosive runs kill us."
What kind of confidence does that give you as you get ready to prepare for a guy like LeSean McCoy?
"He's one of the best backs in the league, so he's definitely somebody that you have to be fully confident going up against. He's a guy that you have to keep bottled up. If he gets any type of space, any type of room, he can make something happen. He will be a good challenge for us as a defense."
How do you think Kelvin Benjamin is going to affect their offense or alter it? What are your thoughts on what you expect from him?
"He's a great player. He can do a lot of things. We will kind of expect the same things that he did in Carolina that he'll do in Buffalo. Just being that big target, being that security blanket for Tyrod (Taylor). Just being a guy with just great hands that can catch a lot of balls over the middle and didn't have to take those hits (but he did). I feel like he'll be that same type of presence in Buffalo."
It seems like you guys all seem pretty focused on the task at hand, how much of that is you guys taking what coaches are saying? Do you think last year's results have played any impact on you guys having more focus this year?
"Last year's results and our coaches keeping us focused. You can't worry about whatever anybody is saying. With a gas mask, don't let anybody gas us up. We just have to keep our focus on each week at a time and that's what we're trying to do."
How hard is it to stay focused and not listen to that stuff that comes when you've won six in a row?
"It's not hard at all because we did it when we won our first game. We did it when we won our second game. It's just something that's become natural now. I wouldn't say it would be hard but it's easy for a lot of young guys to look forward after you string a couple together. We have a good presence in our room with enough older guys in each room and our coaches just doing a good job of keeping us focused on the task at hand and taking it week by week."
Have you ever run across a line like that with that delay of game penalty before like yesterday?
"No. I've done other things just kind of raise a hand or something just to get the attention. It was on zero for a second or two and I was like well I have to do something for them to see that. But I'm just trying to make sure we get that five yards."