New Orleans Saints Defensive Back C.J. Gardner-Johnson
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Can you run us through the positions specifically that you've played this season so far?
"Nickel. I'm the best nickel. I tell my teammates, I only play nickel, I don't need to play anything else. I got Malcolm (Jenkins), great safety, W (Marcus Williams), great safety. (We) Got two of the best corners, (we) got corners that come in and play. I play nickel, that's my role. I love doing it. Whatever Coach Payton, Coach DA (Dennis Allen), AG (Aaron Glenn) ask me, I go out there and do it, the best I can do it. Because I feel like I'm the best in the league at this nickel stuff, and I can only complement it with playing with the teammates that I got. So, I only play one position. I'm not really dialed in to too much other stuff. I'm here to play football. I'm not really worried about how many positions I'm playing. I'm just out there to play football. And do what's good for my teammates."
How much easier has that made it for you? Because I know last year, you know, you guys were kind of taken around and you were doing several different things?
"I mean, last year is last year. This year, I mean, it's been good. I mean, just really growing with each other. It's our second year really as a whole. And our first year with Malcolm (Jenkins). So, just putting it all together and just going out there. It's just something that I really don't, how can I say this? Like, it's been a blessing. Who knows what I can do and be a part of this team. And I'm just happy to be here. That's all. That question went over my head, I apologize."
What do you think has been the most important improvement for the secondary over the last four or five weeks? One or two things in particular that has really got you guys playing at your best right now?
"Compete. And the deep ball. Everybody thinks, we're giving up all these deep balls. We can cover. We're going to give up one, we'll give up two. But it's about limiting them. Just focus on your job and go out there and compete. Like, we're not too worried about numbers. Forget all that. It started when we sat down and said, listen, we ain't doing this no more. We're probably the best secondary in the league. It's showing every week. We ain't worried about these numbers. We're just worried about getting that ball, do our job and go play football."
You mentioned, you know, the corners on the side of you, Malcolm (Jenkins), also in the secondary. Just having those guys and being able to trust them, does that kind of allow you to really focus on playing your game?
"In reality, when you look at the whole, the defense, everybody playing a specific role. Everybody is doing what they do best. And I feel like, these past couple weeks, you notice it, like everybody's doing their job. Everybody is focusing on what they can handle, we're not controlling all this other stuff. Because when you dial in and start doing too much, you start playing outside yourself, that ain't going to do nothing. So, when you play within your teammates, within the other 10 guys you got, that'll make you the 11th guy. Like Coach says, do your part, play your role and stay focused. So, I feel like just focusing on the important things at the right time, at the right place."
How much do you enjoy that kind of role, coming off the edge, making plays in the backfield? And why do you think you're good at that specifically?
"Nobody can stop it. I feel like I'm best when my teammates play best. I can't give you no more tips than that. Like, you're talking about coming off the edge, I don't know what you're talking about. I just play football. So, whatever Coach calls, Chauncey's going to go 100%. Ceedy Duce is going to go hard, whatever you want to call me. It's just like, I'm a gutsy player. Do what I have to do. And I don't get caught in too many bad positions, because I'm not worried about making plays on them. I'm just worried about what I'm supposed to do. If I've got to come off that edge, I promise I'll come off that. Nobody's going to get off. If my Coach says, go cover this guy, nobody's going to catch that ball. So I feel like, (if) they tell me to do something, I just trigger a whole other focused mindset, if that makes sense. And do my job."
When you say you guys aren't worried about numbers, does that mean that the defense' number one overall ranking in the league right now, doesn't really mean anything to you? Or does it have maybe some significance even if it's not as important?
"I will be honest with you, numbers do not mean anything. You can have the number one defense and still be sorry. You can be 0-8, (and) that does not mean anything. The numbers are just something to get hype for fans and friends. Going out there every Sunday, and you're seeing us, those are the numbers. Stopping the deep ball, stopping the run, like, forget the stats. Like, how can we stop this team from scoring. A team can't win if they don't score. And that's what the number one defense is supposed to think. You can't win if you don't score. So, that's the mindset of the number one defense. We're trying to go from good to great. We're just trying to handle our business. And just continue doing what we've been doing. It's right there, we just gotta keep pushing."