New Orleans Saints Defensive Back C.J. Gardner-Johnson
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Monday, November 23, 2020
You have been forcing a lot of turnovers lately. I'm just wondering if there was any concerted effort to get that turned around for you guys and what's kind of been behind that increase lately in your opinion?
"Get the ball. We're just playing to get the ball. When you get one turnover, they come in bundles. Everybody knows that. You can see it with teams early on in the season, that were getting picks, they come in bundles, forced fumbles. And we just want to do the same thing. But, it took us a while to get going, because we had to gel together, get that chemistry, know our goals, know our roles, just continue to play football and not focus on the outside because everybody knows how the season started. As a result, everybody started panicking for us and we were just like, we are going to get it going. You see it coming together in the past couple weeks and it is going well for us right now."
Can you describe the groove you guys are in defensively right now? I think when people think about rhythm they always think about our offense, but what kind of rhythm are you guys in defensively?
"Come out fast. And we say come out fast, put your eyes in the right place and just do what you're supposed to do. When you put your eyes in the right spot, you'd be amazed at how good a defense will play. And we're not talking about no one man, we're not just saying in general, your eyes have to be good on every play. And I feel like everybody has been doing their job and just focusing on what we're supposed to do, what they're supposed to do, knowing their role. So, when Coach says, okay, your eyes need to be on this guard (player being covered), we know we can depend on our teammates to put his eyes on that guard because they're doing their job. There's 11 people on the field, so we should depend on each other to get started. Like when we go out there, we just (have a feeling, let's relax, let's focus, (like) it's practice. We win the game in practice. That is how we feel and when we go out there, it is just a camaraderie of everybody from the D-line, to the linebackers, to the DBs. Like everybody at once, when we go out there we just cannot say we start fast, because we come out ready to play. And really, that is more accurate than coming out fast, because that is often the term. We are just ready to play. We're ready to come out there and compete."
The defense had eight sacks yesterday and they credited it to the coverage that you were doing in the back end. How much pride do you take that, when you are doing your job in the secondary, that defensive line and the linebackers are continuing to eat up front of the opponent's offensive line?
"I feel like we got disrespected as a whole. The D-line isn't receiving as much credit as they should, from everybody. But, we don't care, you just see what they can do up front. We have Cam (Jordan), Trey (Hendrickson), Malcom (Brown), David (Onyemata), Malcolm Roach, you got Shy Tuttle, Marcus Davenport, you got a lot of guys that come in off a high end. When these come in they know they have to get to the quarterback. The linebackers and DBs, we felt like, we had to do our job. We got tired of being talked about, there's talk about saying that we can't cover, we can't run, we can't do this, players getting a little too old. And we're just tired of all that. We just want to go out and (show) like you said, we have players. You can see that, like, past few weeks, nobody can't, do anything (answering detractors). We're just ready to go out there and shut people up and do our job. That's my job focus, and I hope that's my teammates' focus. Do your job."
How big of a shot in the arm has Kwon Alexander given you guys?
"A big energy boost. Everybody on our team is high profile. Everybody on our team is very talented. If they were not, they would not be here. So we think highly of every player and just adding another phenomenal player. Yesterday, you can see a glimpse of the athleticism. He almost caught a diving pick. I was so happy for him, but he knows, that's 100 push ups. But I am just glad he is comfortable. You can see he is comfortable, happy. He is just out there playing football and that's what the game is for."
And I know Sean Payton harps a lot on like, situational stuff. Early in the year, the red zone defense numbers were really bad, but lately they've turned around a lot. What was kind of the key to fixing that stuff for you, do you think?
"Teams can't win games if they don't score. Simple as that. And I can't tell you more, they can't score. When we get out down there, that's my motto, they can't score here. No matter what we have to do. Field goal, at max, it is like that. So, going out there with that mindset, it just puts you on a different edge and on a higher alert. Because everything is fast, you've got to be able to react fast, do your job fast. So, just coming together in that red zone as a defense is, it's a beautiful thing right now."
You've mentioned a few times about playing fast and moving fast, but how much has it slowed down for you in terms of being able to diagnose and kind of figure it out quickly?
"Your eyes. Like I said earlier, it goes back to your eyes and just eliminating all distractions. I feel like this has been good for me, because I had a rough summer. I feel like going into the season, I felt like I had a weight on my shoulders, just to hit everybody's requirements. But, sitting with Coach AG (Aaron Glenn), Coach Payton. Even talking to (the) GM, just (encouraging me), hey keep your focus and just go out there and play your game, because they depend on me. And just like I said, this summer was rough. But, coming into this year, it's a blessing just to be here. I'm just glad to be playing on this team, because who knows what would happen. I'm just glad that I have a great coaching staff there. I have everybody believing in me and I just believe that (what I have to do is) just put my head down and keep working. I don't really do too much. I put my eyes in the right spot, I keep my mind focused."
Just curious what the team's reaction was to Taysom (Hill) finally getting his first start at quarterback yesterday and just doing so well in that role?
"I wasn't surprised. I do not know why you're acting surprised. You come to practice, have your binoculars out. I don't know why you're acting surprised. You have Drew (Brees) mentoring him, mentoring two good quarterbacks. Let's keep rolling. You see what we did, so it matters. I don't know why they are putting so much pressure on him. It is a big job. I understand that? But everybody knows we win the game. I do not care how you get it done. You can throw a million picks, a million touchdowns, you win the game, nobody will fault you. Nobody will talk about what you did, but you won. So, I'm glad he came in. Like you said, he knows his role, he knows his job. He knows he's been called upon, so he had to step up and do his thing. Nobody wants to talk about that, but we got the win though."