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Steve Spagnuolo: "I Believe in These Guys"

Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo spoke with the media on Monday to discuss the defensive performance in the loss to the Broncos and facing the Eagles on Monday Night Football


New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Media Availability
Monday, October 29, 2012

Opening Statement:"I'm obviously very disappointed in the way we played. It was a challenging game. We knew that going in. It's not an offense that you anticipate shutting down, but we needed to slow it down and we didn't do it. There were a couple of good moments there, but they were few and far between. We're all responsible and accountable for it. It all starts with me. We've been working on that all day long. We approached it a certain way, because we knew the quarterback we were playing and this is one of the top passing teams in the league. They shifted gears a little bit with the two tight ends and two wideouts, so we were adjusting on the sidelines. I certainly could have done a better job at that. When all was said and done, we did not play well enough to win."

Is it more frustrating when you try to combat a scheme that changes rather than missed tackling?

"There are a bunch of fundamental things there that we need to get better at and I know that the players, because I know that the group will take accountability for certain things, but I want to make sure I take my share of accountability. I think we all do that. But it all has to come together somehow, someway. Everybody basically has to do their job and do it better for us to get there and get better."

Was Denver's rushing total partially a function of you being worried about their passing attack?

"I'll be honest with you. Early on, it was. There were some six and seven-yard runs that would typically and normally be three or four-yard runs, but what Peyton (Manning) was really good about at was seam routes, right down the seams. We were determined to take those away and we basically did for most of the game, but in doing that, you pull a guy out of the run game, it makes it more challenging. We knew there was going to be a little bit of what we call leaky yardage, but we were willing to give that up to take away his big throwing ability, but where we failed is that he had some big throws there. You can't decide to take that stuff away and have it happen anyway. Now you're fighting two battles, the run and the pass. I don't know how much we would have done differently. One thing about playing a team coming out of the bye week, they can always change and they did a little bit. I was surprised to see when I looked at the halftime stats that there were 20 runs and 16 passes. They typically throw the ball more than that. They approached it a certain way and we had to adjust."

Overall, how do you feel the in-game communication of your defense is going, especially between the secondary?

"That wasn't a real big issue with each other. We had one where we called a coverage and should have been something different. We were off on one thing, because the secondary wasn't on the same page with the linebackers, just one time. It didn't kill us. But that really hasn't (happened). I can't say that that's been a big issue. There's going to be a few of those in every game. Teams that are undefeated will tell you the same thing. Sometimes that gets covered up when someone makes a great play somewhere. But, I don't think that's a big issue."

Do you think the defense got down on themselves at some point in the second half?

"I don't believe they got down on themselves. I do believe this; you learn everytime you go and play in Denver if you haven't played there before. I do think the altitude had a little bit of effect. Part of that is our own fault, playing 75 plays. You have to get off the field, so it doesn't affect you. If you get out there for so many plays wherever you are it's going to wear you down. We've played a lot of plays this year and it's really our own fault."

Joe Vitt seemed to be taking this very personally. Is that a reflection of just him or the entire staff?

"I think we all do, but we take Joe's lead and Joe God bless him is like that. He's a competitor and we all feel the same way. That's kind of why I wanted to lead by saying that on defense it starts with me. Somehow, someway, I have to get better with my job. I hope everyone else does the same thing. When you add it all up, everybody gets better and the whole defense gets better"

Coach Vitt said that you guys might have given Jonathan Vilma too many snaps in the game. Is that something you'll look at next week?

"Yes, I agree with Joe. You're only looking at what is Jonathan's second preseason game, because he didn't have the luxury of a training camp. That happens. There are other guys in the league going through the same thing. It's hard not to have him on the field because of what he is and what he brings and yet, maybe in hindsight…Now we didn't know the game was going to go that way. A little bit of it was dictated by the personnel that the Broncos put out there. We certainly expected a lot more three wide receiver snaps and they didn't give it to us. I probably should have jumped on that a little bit earlier and helped Jonathan out. He's a competitor. He's never going to ask for help."

Does it seem like there has been a low number of game-changing plays, such as Akiem Hicks' forced fumble?


Will they increase?

"The biggest thing is that we have to take advantage of the ones that are there. I go all the way back to some of the things that have happened this season. There have been some opportunities there that we haven't taken advantage of. There were a couple there last night. Certainly when Akiem does what he does and the ball's on the ground, we have to come up with it. We got the ball out two other times. Patrick Robinson on a long completion or a run, actually popped the ball out (of a player's hands). It went out of bounds. There was another one, same thing, ball's out, goes out of bounds. Sometimes they fall right at your feet, you scoop them up. Sometimes they go out of bounds. We need more."

Is it good to change the routine and preparation slightly prior to a Monday night game?

"No, I would agree with that, that and the fact that we're coming off a late night. We all got here at three in the morning. It is good. The back end of it is going to be a challenge, because we're playing another team on a short week. So, pay me now, pay me later. This particular time and situation we're facing, certainly the extra 24 hours is helpful."

Did you come straight here after the team plane landed?

"No, I got a little bit of rest and then came over. It's hard to sleep after going through that. I just got enough rest to get me enough energy to get through today. We have prideful guys. The players come in and watch it, because they want to see it and get it corrected."

What was it like watching the film?

"It's frustrating. It's uncharted territory. I'm not used to this, because I've been blessed to be at places where we've played pretty good defense and we're not doing that right now. Yet, I can't really put my finger on it. But we will. We'll figure it out. The extra day helps. I know one thing. Our guys never stop fighting. I believe in these guys. I keep saying it and I do. They believe in us getting it straightened out too, but we just have to find a way on Sundays."

How will you potentially prepare for two possible starting quarterbacks?

"I hadn't thought that far ahead to be honest with you. We'll have to wait and see. I know they have a pretty good one (Michael Vick) in my opinion. I watched one game so far of the. Obviously in that game, Michael Vick is playing. My thoughts are really on Michael Vick."

How do you deal with some of the numbers at this point?

"It doesn't change for me. It never has. I know I've said it before, that whether we win by four touchdowns or lose by whatever, by the time we get this out of our system, it comes pretty quick in another couple hours. I'll be turned around, trying to figure out who the quarterback for Philadelphia will be and how to stop them. If you don't do it that way in this league, you keep looking back at yesterday. It doesn't work. It doesn't change for me. This will be put to bed. I think you could see the disappointment and frustration in me now. But, that can't linger because you keep believing in the guys you have and they won't fold. That's what you do."

Is it easier said than done?

"Sure, but when you're in this business, you understand that it's what you have to do. I've done it enough times both ways, big wins and bad losses. I think myself and a lot of guys in the building know how to do it."

How much scheme-wise can you change during the year?

"I don't know what we're going to change. We're not going to wave a magic wand and change everything. We just get better at what we're doing. I watched that. You have watched us play. There have been good spurts of defense, even the way we started the game yesterday. It was pretty encouraging against a good offense. Even in the first half, 17 points in the first half is not what you're looking for. The ebb and flow of the game if one of the touchdowns had been a field goal and if we had gone in 13-7, that would have been exactly the way we designed it. This offense, Peyton's (Manning) going to find a way to score high teens, 20 points minimum. You just have to make sure you keep it at that and we couldn't do that. That's a good football team by the way. I don't know how you felt after you got done watching it. The little I see of their defense, that's a good football team. That's a team I expect to be right there at the end. That doesn't make it any better for us. It's still a loss for us, but I would like to credit them."

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