New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Thursday, November 18, 2021
What makes your run defense so good despite the personnel turnover this year?
"Number one, is, we have a lot of guys (who have) bought in to the fundamentals of being able to play against the run. I think that's unique in our situation because a lot of people get these defensive linemen around the league and it's all about getting sack numbers and things of that nature. When you are doing those things, it can present some challenges in the run game. Our guys have bought in to the fundamentals and to the technique. They take pride in it. They work their tails off at it and they understand how they have to fit up against the different types of runs based on the blocking scheme we're getting."
Do you put more of an emphasis on run defense compared to other defensive coordinators?
"Again, look, I can't speak for the other teams. I do know we spend a lot of time working on the fundamentals of the game. Certainly, defending the run is a part of it. It is a big emphasis of what we talk about. I can't say whether we spend more time compared to everyone else or not. I just know that we spend time on (the run game)."
Did you learn to put more of an emphasis on the run game during your second stint as a defensive coordinator?
"Yeah, look, I think obviously, every year you grow as a coach. Obviously if you're not, the league finds you out and you're no longer a coach in this league. You have to constantly evaluate what you're doing and see how teams are attacking you. There are certainly little things when you grow and watch, you see those fundamentals and techniques that can help you be better. I know this, just because you can stop the run, that doesn't mean you're going to be a great defense. I also know that if you can't stop the run, you won't be a great defense. Just because you can stop the run doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be great. I know if you can't stop it, that's certainly an indicator that you won't be a very good defense."
What makes Philadelphia a hard team to defend with their dynamic rushing attack?
"Yeah, number one, I think they've bought into what they want to be as an offense and how they want to operate. I think their offensive line does a really good job in terms of blocking in the run game. I think they understand and have some good schemes that make (defending them) challenging. Anytime you have the element of a quarterback that's able to run the football, it creates math in favor of the offense, because you have to account for the quarterback on every single play. So, there's going to be some plays where you might play against a quarterback that doesn't have the ability to run the football and they run a gun formation to hand the ball off, but you're not really that concerned about defending the quarterback. When you play a team like this, if you don't account for the quarterback, (Jalen Hurts) can really hurt you in the run game. He was certainly able to do that against us last year. We need to do a better job in the run game against the quarterback."
Does game planning for this year become any easier having played Philadelphia last year?
"Well, certainly we have a better feel for who Jalen Hurts is and what he can do as a quarterback, not just as a runner, but as a passer as well. So, we certainly studied last year's tape a lot to see what we could have done better. There's a few schematic differences in what (their offense) does, but I'd say we feel a little more prepared this year than we felt last year."
Do you think Philadelphia's strong running game allows them to attack teams through the vertical passing game better than other teams?
"I think they have got a full complement of what they want to do offensively. Any time you can run the ball the way they can run the ball, you begin to get a sense the linebackers are getting tighter to the line of scrimmage, the safety is more aggressive defending the run game, it opens up some second and third level throws against the defense. That's what being able to run the ball does. It creates explosive plays in the passing game, and they have some really explosive wide receivers. All of them can really run and they challenge you from a speed standpoint down the field."
Was it just a matter of health for Marcus Davenport being able to reach his potential?
"Well, look, I think we've said from the very beginning that we've felt like Marcus Davenport has the ability to be a dominant type of player. It was really just a matter of time, growth, and it didn't happen probably as fast as we wanted it to, and I do think that injuries were a major factor in that. Like I said, this past offseason was his first offseason where he didn't have an offseason surgery. So, you're just beginning to see, and I think even more so than anything else, that Marcus Davenport knows and believes that he can be a special player in our league. That confidence, Sean (Payton) says this all the time, 'confidence is born from demonstrated ability'. The more plays he is able to make, the more confidence he gets in his ability to play at this level. We have always seen that in him, and now I believe we're getting a little bit of the fruits of the labor now."