New Orleans Saints Tackle Jordan Mills
Monday, December 20, 2021
With you being a Louisiana guy, what's it like for you getting the chance to play for your home state team?
"It's a dream come true. Being a young kid from a small town in Napoleonville, Louisiana, about an hour outside of New Orleans, (my family) would always come home from church and watch the Saints play at 12:00. I always wanted to get the chance to play in the Dome on this field, but I never got the chance in high school or college. Just being able to be here and actually step on this field playing for my home state team is indescribable. It's a priceless feeling with everyone in my family back home supporting me. Just them being happy for me being on the team, but to actually be a New Orleans Saint is special."
What does your family feel watching you play for the Saints?
"They're elated. They feel the same way I feel. My mom and dad are elated. My dad still has an old record of the 1967 Saints when the Saints first started with all of the player's signatures on it and the song playing, 'When the Saints come marching in.' They've been Saints fans since the team came to New Orleans, so my sisters and brothers are happy for me that I can be home. Throughout my career, my family and friends have not gotten to see me that much living out of state. I'd come back and visit three or four times a year, but for me to be home and them getting to see me play for our home state team is more than they could ever ask for."
Did you ever go to Saints games growing up?
"I actually never had the chance to. It was always church first (in my family) and we would catch the game when we got home. The way my parents raised us, we went to church first and we would catch the game towards the end of the second quarter going into halftime. Those were the days of Aaron Brooks, Ricky Williams, and the rest of those guys. I remember those days just coming home being excited to watch them play and hopefully, when I grew up one day, that I would be able to do that."
How would you describe the way this team has managed all of the injuries this season?
"Well, we all have that 'next man up mentality'. The way Coach Payton and all of the coaches coach us, they coach everybody. They know it's a long season, it's a brutal sport that we play, and anyone can go down at any given moment. With the way we practice and what Coach Payton expects of us when somebody goes down (with an injury), he doesn't expect anything to drop off or any less than anyone else. We've handled this well, stuck together, and held each other accountable. Throughout the good and the bad, we've stuck together."
What was it like coming to the Saints knowing you are probably only going to play tackle if someone gets injured? How do you change your mindset?
"Well, I always prepare like I'm going to start anyway. Unfortunately, Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk have been down for a few weeks now (knee injuries), but that's the mentality you have to have. Like I said before, Coach Payton and our coaches expect us to prepare like we're starters so if something happens, we come in prepared to play. I've played a lot of football throughout my career, but I've approached every single game and practice the same every day. I take every rep like I'm the starter because you never know what's going to happen. I'm just grateful for this opportunity and thankful to just be here to help out my teammates and build our culture up to get these wins."
Does that preparation mindset help when you're facing guys like Shaq Barrett and Demarcus Lawrence?
"Yeah, it does. Those are great pass rushers and great players in our league. If you don't prepare how you need to prepare and if you're lackadaisical in your preparation, it's going to be a long night for you."
How would you describe your offensive gameplan last night?
"Our this is you always want to do great things on offense. Coach Payton said at the beginning of the week he wanted the offense to control the time of possession and not turn the ball over. He told the defense he wanted them to take away the ball and get off the field on third down. We wanted to run the ball effectively last night. It was not as good as we wanted it to be, but sometimes games happen that way. Last night was a hard-fought game and defensive battle, but when you get those games like that you just have to take what you get. Obviously, teams respect us, any personnel when we're playing 11 personnel, teams were in base (defense) trying to stop the run and we rushed for 200 yards. (Tampa Bay's) plan was to stop the run and they did it. They did a good job doing that, but we stuck together and made plays when we needed to. Our defense played excellent, from the defensive line, linebackers, to the back end, they were all flying around. It was a team effort."
What's the biggest difference between Pete Carmichael and Sean Payton?
"Coach Payton is Coach Payton. He is high energy, high attention to detail, but his attitude is different than Coach Pete. Coach Pete's more mellowed-off and Coach Payton's the get-in-your-face, bring the juice, high energy kind of guy. You have coaches like that on every staff where the head coach can be higher energy but there's other coaches that are mellowed out. You know what (Carmichael) expects of you and you do your best to execute. Coach Pete did a great job of calling plays last night and leading us to victory. DA (Dennis Allen) took head control of it last night and he did an awesome job preparing us for the game with Coach Payton being out. There wasn't a drop off of energy because Coach Allen has some juice and some grit to him. Even though Coach Payton wasn't there, we had some in-your-face, I want everything out of you type mentality on Sunday night."
Do you ever go up against Marcus Davenport in practice? What's it like trying to block him then?
"A few times. He's a guy that has all of the intangibles. He's fast, quick, powerful. The one thing I would say that makes him more difficult (to block) is you don't know when his power is coming. When it does come, it's a load unlike any other. He can maul anybody at any moment. You know, he's starting to realize that. He's been a great player and he's playing through injuries right now. To see the things he does to tackles sometimes, they can't really do anything about it. Marcus is a great young player. He's going to do great things in this league and I'm glad he's on our team."
New Orleans Saints Defensive End Marcus Davenport
Monday, December 20, 2021
How did you guys' approach last night's game on the defensive side without Sean Payton coaching?
"We approached it like every other game. I think we are lucky in a sense that every time we go out there, we are just focused on the defense, and we're just trying to prepare and do our job the best we can. We just limit the distractions and anything else that can happen."
Is there anything about Dennis Allen as a coach that gives you guys' confidence?
"Yeah. You can say exactly that. You know, just like the players, it was next man up. We had faith and knew what we were going to do (on defense). DA did a great job stepping up and explaining what we had to do, shoot, and how we had to do it. It was really on us, so from there, we just had to go out there, play the game, and be secure in that."
How would you describe Dennis Allen as a coach?
"His main thing I would say is doing your job. Don't make anything up, just do your job. Just from there, that's kind of what we focus on, especially as a defense. It's kind of been that simple."
Do you feel like you're getting to a point in your career where your results are matching your preparation process leading into games?
"I don't know. Shoot, every game, every time I play, I always feel like I can do more, or I just want more. I want to win every play. I can be better and I'm always just kind of looking for more. I'd say I'm not really looking for the results, I'm just trying to lock in on the present and win my moments when things take as a whole."
Where does your performance stand in your mind last night?
"For me, really what'd I take away from the game was that we did what he had to do. We made the plays when we had to. We might have bent at times, but we won. That's all that matters."
In terms of team performance, how well did you feel the defense did last night?
"I don't know. I still need to watch the film. I watch it more from a personal standpoint, but the team, I can't speak for everybody."
How much does some of the stuff Dennis Allen do schematically allow for guys like you to take advantage?
"I think you just kind of answered it. Like I said, he creates opportunities for us to take advantage. We try to win our 1-on-1s, 2-on-1s, and try to win the games that we get those straight rushes. It's more of like you said, just getting those opportunities."
Have you developed the perspective of just trying to win the moment as you've grown throughout your career?
"Yeah. It's something I've been trying to hold on to it. In a real sense, I'm not really trying to hold on to anything. I'm just trying to take it all in, enjoy the moment, get out when I can, and let it go. I'm just trying to live like that."
When did you realize how effective your power rush was?
"I don't know. I think it's been something that I just naturally do. I've been changing as a player, so that helped change my identity as well. A part of that seems to be power right now, so I'm just going from there."
What do you mean when you say you're changing as a player?
"I think overall, I think back to every year. I feel how my body's changed, I've changed, how my mentality has changed. I'm not the same player I am today as I was yesterday. It is just one of those things I am going to keep trying to develop in a positive way."
How do you feel your identity as a player has changed over time?
"Personally, more physical, more going for it. I think there's a lot to that, a lot I still want to change. Identity is such a big thing that, it's going to be hard to describe all of that."
Are there a couple things within your identity that you are looking to specifically change?
"I've embraced (my identity). I'm not necessarily looking to change, but I just realize if I can get into a flow, stay healthy, and just work from there. The only things I feel like I can change are the things I can only get better at. So, it's just day to day stuff. There's no real focus, just progress."
Do you just focus on finding out what you do well and embracing those things?
"Yeah. But, you know, you make it sound so finite. Who I am as a player is still developing and growing, that's kind of all I'm saying. That's with everybody. The game changes, you play differently, you do things slightly differently because you're smarter and stronger. I just keep with the flow and change as I may."
What do you find most gratifying from last night's win? Do you think this will help this team finish strong?
"The biggest thing is winning. I'm just happy that we got this win. I know it means so much to us not only as players and coaches, but also to the city of New Orleans and those that support us. I think that's the most gratifying thing you can get, to put all of that effort out and to win. I'm not thinking too far ahead, it's still one game at a time. So, you know, I just take things day-by-day."
How do you explain beating upper-level NFL teams but also losing to other teams who are struggling?
"We just have to keep winning.'