New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, January 1, 2021
What's the overall impact of that Kwon (Alexander) has and what losing him kind of does to what you guys can do?
"Well, look, I would say this, number one, certainly it hurts when you lose a player of the caliber of Kwon Alexander. I thought he brought a lot of a lot of energy, just a positive attitude to our group, I thought our guys fed off his energy a little bit. So certainly, that's going to be missed. But I'll say this, I'll say we've won a lot of games with Alex Anzalone and he's played really well for us. We're extremely confident in his ability to go in and step in and play and certainly there's some similarities in their play. And so I don't really see a ton of things we'll change in terms of what we do or how we do it. But certainly some things that we'll have to look at as we continue to move forward."
I guess kind of the same question about C.J. (Gardner-Johnson) even though that's kind of like a shorter term absence, just the impact of losing him?
"I think kind of the same. Anytime you lose a guy that's a starter, it certainly affects your defense. But again, I think a credit to Mickey (Loomis) and Terry (Fontenot) and Jeff (Ireland) and Coach (Sean) Payton and those guys have acquired a talent to team with a lot of depth. And so we feel confident in the guys that we are going to put out there. And so every team has to deal with that at some point during the season. And certainly, those are a couple spots that we've got to deal with this week, but we feel confident in the guy's ability to go in there and play."
Now that we're kind of at the end of the regular season, when you look back and the kind of a turnaround that you guys had is there like any one moment, or one thing that you can pinpoint that was kind of the turning point for you guys?
"No, and look, I think when you really, and I've always said this, you're really, certainly the people on the outside world have instant judgment week in and week out on whether you're good or not good, or any of that stuff. And really, all those things are, you don't really determine whether you're good or not good until you have the accumulation of the whole season. And so I think our guys did a really good job of trusting in, and we've said this before, but of trusting in the process, not getting too carried away on a week in and week out basis, riding the roller coaster, highs and lows and all that stuff. We just focused on the things we needed to improve on. And to our player's credit, they understood the things we needed to do to get better as a defense. And they worked extremely hard on doing those things. And the results took care of themselves. And so that's kind of been the philosophy around here of the way we've tried to handle things and just continue to try to improve each and every week. And if you do that, the results kind of take care of themselves. And at the end of the day, when this thing is all said and done, we'll look back and say, 'Man, we played some pretty good defense around here.'
Is it easier for the team to buy into that process, not ride the waves, not focus on that when you do have like a lot of veteran players and leadership on the field?
"Yeah. Look, I certainly think so. Because, again, and Sean (Payton) has said this several times before, but confidence comes from demonstrated ability. And we've had a lot of players that have demonstrated over the course of their career that they can make a lot of plays, and they can play really, really well. And so I think just knowing that, I think our guys knew that we can play better than maybe we were earlier in the year. And like I said early in the year, there was there was a lot of good things that were going on that not really a lot of people talked about, and the negative things were the things that kind of got focused on. But in our building, we tried to accentuate the things that we were doing well, and continue to do those things and then try to fix the things that we weren't doing quite as well. And certainly, I think having a strong veteran leadership helps in that regard. And I think the continuity of our team, and the the coaching staff allows you to kind of weather that storm a little bit and trust in the process."
With the success you guys have had with just the four man rush, the four man front, bringing pressure, How much does that open up things up for you as a defensive play caller? Just knowing those guys can produce for you when you want to lean on them?
"Yeah, well, look, I think certainly we all know that this really is a passing league. Certainly the ability to stop the run is important. But a lot of points are scored through the air and I think when you look at the way our front has been able to get pressure on the quarterback without always having to bring the fifth or sixth element, really allows us to do some good things in coverage. And then I think the improved play of our secondary in pass defense over the last half of the season has also been a big factor in our ability to get after the passer with a four-man rush. So those things work together. And we wouldn't have a great four man rush if we weren't covering people in the back end, and you wouldn't see some of the pressure stats that you see if we were not able to cover them in the back end, and vice versa. We would not be nearly as good in our pass defense if we were not able to do some things up front to affect the quarterback. So I think it's really a combination of both those elements being able to work together."