New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, November 13, 2020
What do you look at with Kwon Alexander so far after working with him on and the field and in the meeting room one week?
"I look at it really similar to when we acquired Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins), when we acquired him late in the 2019 season last year. He's been working in practice trying to get accustomed to what we're doing defensively. The good thing about it is that he's a veteran player and he's played in a couple different systems. There's not a lot that we're doing that he hasn't done before. Maybe we teach it a little differently and use a little bit different terminology. That's the biggest factor in that. He's done a nice job so far getting accustomed to what we're doing and we're looking forward to working with him."
If he's playing at the top of his potential, what does that look like and what is he doing well?
"When we watched him on tape we saw a run and hit linebacker, an explosive player that has playmaking ability. That's what we were intrigued by and I think that's why we made the move to acquire him."
Sean Payton said that whenever you guys make a move in-season like that the team does the due diligence to make sure it's a cultural fit. What do you see in those regards?
"Yes, I think he's fit in quite nicely. We did our research. I think that's what Coach Payton and Mickey (Loomis) do a great job of. They do a great job of making sure that the people we bring in to this building are cultural fits to our team. We were excited about the opportunity to get him and he's fit in nicely for us."
We asked Demario Davis if some of the guys on defense were getting into a groove and he mentioned Marshon Lattimore and saying this defense can be outstanding when he plays outstanding. Is that something you've learned over these last three weeks?
"Yes, I think so. I've seen improved play out of him the last three weeks. I don't think it's any secret that when he's playing at the top of his game, we're playing that much better defensively. Yes, I've seen him playing more to his potential the last couple weeks and we've been better for it defensively. The key for Marshon is that let's have that level of execution week in and week out. That's continuing to be the process that we go through with him."
Is there any one or two things you can point to that have been the most important improvements this defense made?
"I think there's been a couple things in the back end that we needed to clean up. As I said all along, we've been close. We've played really good defense in a lot of spurts this season. We'd have one or two mental lapses in giving up an explosive play. When you look at the stats and pay attention to where we are defensively. We don't give up a lot of big plays. I think we're fourth in the league now in terms of least amount of explosive plays given up. That' really hasn't been a huge factor, but when you have those big plays that happen it's kind of a little bit of a sore thumb that sticks out there. We knew as we went along that we would continue to make improvement. That's all we focused on. We don't really focus on end results, because the end results get taken care of if you really focus in on the process and do the things that you have to do during the week to get yourself prepared. Certainly that's something we want to continue to do and keep striving to be as consistent as we can."
With a guy like Marshon whose performance has varied week to week, does that create challenge in creating a gameplan?
"I wouldn't say that. Again, certainly with a guy like Marshon, there's a level of expectation with that player and a very high level of expectation with that player, because we've seen him play at an elite level a lot. Just like the rest of the defense, there's a lot of good plays that we've seen consistently with him and then there's the few where he's been at the bad end of an explosive play. I think really for all of us, coaches, players, everybody, we really have to continue to be consistent in what we're doing and I think we're seeing a trend in that direction the last few weeks."
With Marcus Davenport and his bull rush is that one of the better bull rushes you have seen?
"He's one of the more explosive players that I've had the opportunity to coach and be around. That's a God-given ability that he has. His power can be felt in both the run game and the pass game. Yes, I think his power rushes are pretty good."
Where is the main area of Trey Hendrickson's growth?
"That's a good question. It's kind of hard to answer to one specific thing. I would say he's really grown as a professional. That's what you want to see when you draft a player. You want to see improvement as the years go on. I think you've seen that with Trey. Certainly the sack statistics are up with this player this year and that's great to see, but I've continued to see him improve year in and year out. That's what you really want to see. I think he's really improved as a player and that's a tough, hard-nosed, high-effort, high-energy player and a team player."
I know some of his sacks are opportunity based but is some of that because of the motor?
"Certainly I think that's part of it. You can go as hard as you want, but if you don't have the talent, certainly it's a struggle to make plays in this league. I've always said when you combine a talent level with hard work and dedication, you can see improvement and desired results and that's what I think you're seeing with Trey."
Has Cam Jordan improved in the last month?
"I think all of our players have improved as the weeks have gone on. Certainly we didn't start the season the way we wanted to. We've really focused on the process and trying to get better every week. We don't stop at the quarter pole of the horse race and see where we're at. We focus on how I'm going to get better this day, the next day. When we do that, the results end up taking care of themselves. We kind of leave the evaluations to everyone else to figure out and have their opinions on where we're at and what we're doing. We just work on getting better every day and certainly we're beginning to see the results of it."
Marcus Davenport talked about improving his lower body strength this offseason. Has that paid benefits for him?
"I would say so. I think he's always been a powerful, explosive player. I think you're just seeing it now since he's beginning to understand a little bit better how to play the game. He's a guy that's in his third year here. We said it from the beginning that in year one we were going to get a raw player, in year two we were going to see some improvement, in year three maybe we get really the type of player that we drafted. Certainly him missing the early part of this season took and effect on him and the defense. You're seeing him show now the things he's capable of doing?
It seems like in the third and fourth quarter he's getting home a lot. Is it a byproduct of the improved play as a team?
"I think that's part of the deal. Pass rush and pass coverage work together. When your pass coverage is better, your pass rush is better and vice versa. I think the other thing we've seen the last couple of games is we've been able to at some point in the game we've been able to separate ourselves as a team and get them into a little bit of a pass-oriented gameplan and when you do that, it makes it easier to rush the passer. I think the fact that we have several guys that we are able to rotate in and keep guys fresh does allow us a little more energy later in games."