New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Monday, October 1, 2012
Opening Statement: "Tough place to play in Green Bay at Lambeau Field. I almost think if you win that game it should count as two wins. I know you have visited with Aaron (Kromer) already today and he talked a little about that. Having said that, I am disappointed that defensively we weren't able to limit them to one less touchdown. That's really the way I wrap it up. The one that sticks out is the second quarter drive where it began on the minus eight yard line and we did have them stopped but they had the fake punt and got it back. Then we had two penalties after that that kept the ball going for them - a face mask and a holding. Anytime you give a good football team extra yards with penalties that hurts.
"We did create the two turnovers that helped our football team. I thought we played much better in the second half by holding them to seven points which I thought was important. Overall, we did limit the big play. I think they had two passes of exactly 20 yards and a run play for 10 yards. We define the big plays as more than 10 yards on a run and more than 20 yards on a pass. I thought we did well there.
"Where I didn't think we performed well defensively was in the redzone and disappointed in that because the prior week against Kansas City that kept us in the game. We played really well in the red zone then so we went backwards that way. We did not create enough third downs, the penalties hurt us and we didn't affect the quarterback hardly at all, certainly not enough to win the game.
"Patrick Robinson had a great play on the interception and I think Brodrick Bunkley did a terrific job on the fumble. He knocked the lineman back that made Graham Harrell stumble and cause a turnover."
I know you don't want to get too far away from your scheme but with the lack of pressure on the quarterback, how do you improve that? Do you send more people and in a way go against the philosophies that you believe in?
"That's one way to do it. We did a little bit of that yesterday. The other thing is with that type of quarterback he will make you pay in that regard. The thing that Aaron Rodgers did really well was that he was at the line of scrimmage for a long time. If you noticed, they were not in a full no huddle but it was a quick tempo. They got to the line of scrimmage with plenty of time on the clock. They had a couple of cadences to try and get us to show them what we are trying to do. When he gets that information, when you are bringing a lot of people it's a risky business to do that too many times against him. I just got done talking about how I thought it was important that we limited the big plays. I think against a team like that you need to try to do that. We focused on it and that part of it we got done. What you certainly didn't want to do was have the 60-yard score or the 80-yard score. We did that we just needed to get him in more third downs and play them better in the red zone.
"Going back to the whole pressure thing, we did try to mix it up and went with a different personnel group in the second half where we had Martez (Wilson), Junior (Gallette), Will (Smith) and Cam (Jordan) in there as opposed to other nickel packages. We changed where we rushed three a couple of times and so we are kind of mixing it and trying different ways to do it yet somehow, some way we have to find a way to do it. We have to find a way to effect the quarterback more. The few times that we did flush him out….we had (Rodgers) in the redzone and Brodrick gets his leg but he maintains his balance going to his left and flicks it out there. That's a great play by a great quarterback. All those things put together limited what we did effecting the quarterback."
You knew getting pressure on the quarterback was going to be a challenge when you got here but how do you improve that now four weeks into the season?
"It's a challenge anywhere. It doesn't matter where you are or what players you have or what scheme you run. Offenses are pretty good and affecting the quarterback is the thing you have to do whether you do it with four or three (players). I believe in just mixing it up. We have to find a way to mix it better and find a way to win a couple of these one-on-one matches. When we do win, like Bunkley did on that one play, we have to try to find a way to get him down. We flushed him out a couple of times and there was one third-down play that we did flush him out because of Junior (Galette) but Rodgers gets out on the edge and turns a third-and-six play into a seven-yard gain for the first down."
What changed in the second half where the defense started to improve?
"We went in and made a couple of adjustments. Nothing major. We just got a little better at what we were doing. In the first half, the penalties kind of hurt us. We limited those in the second half. They drove the ball and got a couple of chunks here and there. Both of the turnovers came in the second half and that stopped two drives. We forced a few punts. I go back to the fake punt and I know Greg (McMahon) will handle that but we have to make fourth down a longer fourth down. Not fourth and inches because it makes it too inviting to do that. If we get that guy tackled for two less yards, I don't think they go for it on fourth and two. We take some onus for that for making that particular fake so inviting. We were just watching the tape and this is a game of inches and we keep losing the game of inches."
Were you expecting Green Bay to throw in the situation where they picked up their last first down of the game to run out the clock?
"We did. We played man and that's a challenge for those corners out there. Jabari (Greer) did the best he could. That was another one, I don't know how he caught that one either. They've got some good players, they are going to make some good plays. We challenged them on that down, we were right in the face of all of those wide receivers and he stuck one in there."
Who's decision was it to call the timeout on their first play of that series?
"Aaron (Kromer) and I were talking but that was the obvious thing to do. We only had one left. I think we looked up there and it (the game clock) was two (minutes) forty-something (seconds) when that first play ran so you knew at the end of that play it was going to be under forty seconds. If you don't call a timeout, they just sit there and let it go down all the way to the two-minute warning. That was the right thing to do."
Talk about turnovers coming in bunches, has that been able to help you?
"I hope we aren't out of the bunches, I want to keep going. I'd like to have the five or six takeaway games. Typically, the turnovers are on great plays and both of these were. Brodrick (Bunkley) pushing the guy back and causing the quarterback (Graham Harrell) to stumble a little bit really caused that one. Patrick Robinson's (forced turnover), that's as good of a play as you can make in this league. He's had some opportunities to do that and he came through yesterday. That's big, we need those. We really do, we need them."
Have you been happy with Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins making plays on the back-end?
"They haven't had a lot of, and I think I know what you're talking about, the deep balls. I can't recall a lot of those opportunities. I don't remember any of them yesterday. Everything was kind of thrown underneath, I don't remember them taking a shot deep which is maybe a credit to the deep coverage that (Aaron) Rodgers didn't do that. Roman was playing, and I don't know if you noticed yesterday, in a little bit different position. He was at the Will linebacker in nickel. I think that is something that is pretty good for us because Roman is really good down by the line of scrimmage so we may continue to do that. (If) we get Jonathan Casillas back, maybe that will change. We've had some injuries that kind of force a trickle-down effect here. Scott Shanle is out there in the nickel or in the Buffalo situation when we have first and second down. I think both of our safeties have played very solid. I think Malcolm would tell you that he would've liked to not have those two penalties because those hurt us a little bit. Those guys have been doing a good job managing the back end, getting us in the right defenses. We are happy with those two guys."
Did the big, physical receivers of Green Bay give your cornerbacks trouble?
"I don't know if it was as much that. Those receivers up there are going to win a few downs. I thought we won our share, certainly, but with the way game went we probably had to win one or two more, especially in the red zone. Maybe I have to do a better job calling things differently or changing it up a little bit. In this game, in this passing league that we're in, that position that they play out there, corner, is always going to be a test or challenge. Hopefully you win more battles than you lose but you're not going to win them all, especially with a team like that."
Can you talk about the challenge of facing another really talented quarterback in Phillip Rivers?
"It doesn't end, does it? He's a pretty smart guy. I've gone against him in the past, in St. Louis and I think in New York. I've always had great respect for Norv Turner. I can remember when Norv, I want to say he was in Washington at the time, and him and Jim Johnson, when I was coaching for the Eagles, would kind of battle. I remember them seeing each other at the combines where the coaches gather and saying 'I got you on that one, you got me on that one.' I've always thought Norv was a really good offensive coach. He has a good bunch of weapons there with the tight ends and a young wideout and certainly the quarterback. I haven't had a chance to watch. I was telling Doug this, and I'm not lying when I tell you this, coming out of the locker room last night, I had to ask Aaron (Kromer) who we play next because I just didn't know. It is the San Diego Chargers and it will be a challenge. I know that they are a good football team."
How do you feel Will Herring performed last night?
"I thought he did a great job. He had limited reps because of what they went with, personnel. We didn't play as much base defense, I think we only had eight to ten snaps. When he was in there, I thought he performed real solid. He kind of stuck out that way, just didn't get a lot of opportunities."
What can you take away from that game, confidence-wise, heading into the San Diego game?
"The turnovers, certainly, and the fact that we could go in at halftime and make a couple of subtle adjustments, the guys could rally around each other and then come out and hold that football team to seven points. I don't know want that to be lost on myself. I get focused on the wins and losses and I'm disappointed but I think we do need to realize that you are not going to go up there and shut that team out. Again, I opened up the press conference by saying this, the disappointment that I have is if we could have found a way to eliminate one score, or force one field goal in the red zone, that's how much of a fine line it is right now. I go right back to red zone defense, I think we have to be better in red zone."
Is it getting harder and harder to keep Akiem Hicks off the field?
"No question. It worked out that way yesterday and it will probably be more and more. There is little things in there. The one thing about playing d-line, when you make a mistake it's not nearly as magnified as when you're at other positions. There are some things in there. There is still a learning curve there. I'll tell you what, I love the kid, he is into it, he is a big guy that goes in there tries to do it right. Even if doesn't do it right, sometimes he is making a good play. All of those things are positive and he will continue to get a lot of playing time."