New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Thursday, September 30, 2021
When you have Marshon Lattimore on the field, how much does that allow you to do different things on defense?
"Yeah, look, I honestly feel like cornerback is the hardest position to play in the National Football League because you're going against the best athletes in the world. They know where they're going, and you have to try to figure it out. From a skillset standpoint, I think it's an incredibly difficult position (CB) to play and when you have talented people like (Marshon), it does allow you a little more flexibility in what you can do and how you can play the other guys. It's no different than having any of our other best players, but we certainly like (having Marshon)."
How much of a different level does Marshon elevate his game when he goes up against the best of the best in the NFL?
"Yeah, certainly there's times over the last four years that we've said, "hey, you are going to go up against their best guy and we need you to take that guy out" and there are times where he is on a guy and we will give him help. But there are a lot of times where he is on that (best) guy and is by himself. So, that is certainly one of those things where we feel like we have the advantage in that matchup regardless of who he is going up against. It allows us to utilize the other ten guys on the field to do a lot of different stuff."
How impressive was Marshon last Sunday given the fact he has a cast on his hand (thumb surgery)?
"I thought he was outstanding the other day in New England. They challenged him and threw the ball at him. Nothing got over the top, there were a few underneath throws, but he had 10 tackles in the game. He didn't shy away from it and I didn't see any ill-effects from playing with the cast. Certainly, I know that (his thumb) still bothers him, so the fact he can go out and play the way that he did was impressive to see."
Do you prototype really good tacklers at the cornerback position?
"Everybody at some point in time on the football field is going to have to be able to tackle. So, that's certainly something we look for. We don't want to have our corners to make a ton of tackles. We want our linebackers and safeties to make those plays, but there's going to be times where we need (our corners to tackle). One of the things offenses do now in the NFL is they try to run the football and find any way they can to make corners tackle, because a lot of times corners don't want to do that. That is a prerequisite here and our guys have bought in to that and done a good job tackling."
Is that the hidden element to why your run defense has been so good over the last couple of years?
"Well, certainly it takes all eleven guys to stop the run. There's a lot we put on the plate of the front 7 and the backers, including the nickel player and our safeties fitting in the way they do, but those corners have been critical at times in some instances to limit some of those big gains that may occur (in the run game). So, yeah, they're certainly a big part of it."
Does Demario Davis look 32 years old with the way he thinks and is able to move so well?
"Well, he looks like he's got ten years of NFL knowledge. He looks like a young player with a ton of knowledge, because he runs around the field and closes a ton of ground. He plays violently. He is a fun guy to be around, a fun guy to coach, and I am glad we got him (in 2018)."
What has Tanoh Kpassagnon brought to this defense?
"I think versatility. We've played him at end, played him inside in some of our run packages. He was a guy that when he came out for the draft from Villanova, we went up there and worked him out. We really liked him here and thought there was a chance he could be a good player. Kansas City drafted him, but that was one of the guys that fits a mold of what we're looking for (on the line). We like size, length, and athleticism. He has got all three of those characteristics, and probably a little more athleticism than I would've originally given him credit for. He fits what we are looking for. He is big, tough, a great athlete, works hard, and is smart. Those are the characteristics we look for. I do not think any of that with the people we have; whether we drafted them or acquired them in free agency, there's a blueprint in what we're trying to do. I think our personnel department with Jeff Ireland and those guys or Michael Parenton and those guys in pro personnel, they do a great job in finding guys that fit what we want to do."
What's the advantage to having length on the defensive line?
"Well, the first thing is that for a guy to block you, it's much easier for him to block you if he can get into your body. Having size and length to keep blockers off of you so you can get off blocks and make plays is really what we're looking at. The more space you can create between you and the blocker, the easier it is for those guys to go make plays."
What has Kris Richard brought to the defensive room?
"Fundamentals, toughness, technique, and a simplification of the game. So, it has been fun for me to be with him and hear him talk and present at times to show how simple he can make the game seem. I think that is what the best teachers in our league do. They take what can be a complicated subject matter at times and simplify it to where they don't have to think a lot during the game, they can just react to what they see."
What would be an example of that simplification?
"Well, I won't go there because I don't want to divulge any of the secrets, but at the end of the day you teach in 3's. You don't want to say, if they do this, then you do that, over and over. That's a lot of white noise. It should just be if they show this look, boom do this and react this way. That's what he does a really good job of. Look, he's coordinated in our league, played in our league, and coached at the highest level you can possibly coach at in our league, so he's got a lot of experience. I think he's been a real good addition to our team."
Since he's a former coordinator, is there anything you have tweaked system or concept wise that he has brought over?
"I don't think there has necessarily been anything that's been an overriding change in terms of fundamentally of what we do. There have been a lot of teaching points that we've changed a little bit in how we teach a few things. That's kind of the evolution of football and always having to look to see if there's a better way to do things. Look, I'm always trying to learn, and I know he's brought a few things that we've talked over, and we figure out the best way to do things and then we go. That's been great not only with Kris, but also with Ryan Nielsen, Mike Hodges, and all those guys play a critical role in our performance on defense."
What do you think of the energy level of this defense so far?
"I think it's huge. I think the defense has played off the energy, emotion, and they're playing hard. Our guys have done a great job of preparing themselves each and every week to go out and play at their best. In doing so, they have developed a lot of confidence in their ability to go out there and play, so they have fun going out playing the game. Certainly, this is a tough ass business we are in, but it is still a game and should still be fun. Our guys are playing hard and having a lot of fun doing it.