New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, December 11, 2020
How's the preparation for Jalen Hurts? Can you think of an offense you've faced in a while that could look like when you're going to see this week?
"Well, look, I don't know. It's kind of a little bit of, not quite as unique as what we faced a couple weeks ago in Denver, but it is a little bit of a unique situation. I think, certainly, it's kind of been a two part process, I think you've got to kind of prepare for the offensive system, and what you've seen on tape, and then kind of anticipate some of the things that they might do differently with Jalen Hurts at quarterback than maybe what they were doing with Carson (Wentz). We've kind of got to prepare a little bit for everything. The good news is we've got kind of about a quarter and a half of football against Green Bay to watch Jalen in there and watch him operate. And then there's another 30 plays throughout the season where we got a chance to see him in the game, sometimes lined up (at) the quarterback (position), sometimes not, but you kind of get a little bit of a feel for some of the things that they might want to try to do with him."
A couple of the coaches we've talked to in recent weeks, there was Raheem Morris, I think Vic Fangio said it, too, it's just that they're seeing your kind of fingerprints on this defense, being what it is right now. What does that mean to you to hear that? And what do you think you're doing well specifically as a coach?
"Well, I'd say, first of all, I think one of the things that you do as a coach or you want as a coach, you want to do a good job and gain the respect of your peers. And certainly, that's a good thing to be recognized by your peers as doing a good job. Obviously, there are a lot of factors that are involved in the whole process in terms of what we are doing defensively. I'd say first and foremost, when you start looking at the leadership in this building, and the things that Sean (Payton) and Mickey (Loomis) and Jeff Ireland, Terry Fontenot, the things that those guys have done to acquire talent to give us a talented group on defense. I'm a lot better coach when I've got really good players and I'm fortunate that I've got a lot of good players I get an opportunity to work with. The staff I think here is tremendous, I think those guys do a great job of coaching up to the minute details of what we're trying to do and what we're trying to accomplish and getting our players ready to play. I think primarily, the biggest thing in terms of what my job is is to make sure that I clearly identify the things that I want to get accomplished, and how we want to go about plan and exactly how we want to operate within the game plan. And then give those guys clear instructions and kind of get out of the way and let them do their job. I think the assistant coaches have done a tremendous job, I think we've got a great group of players that are really talented that work their tail off every single day to try to be the best that they possibly can be. And I think when you're in that situation, it kind of makes my job a little bit easier."
We were asking Demario Davis about kind of similar thing yesterday and he brought up a process. I'm just curious, when you guys were going through that rough patch earlier in the year was like, two or three big plays, how important when you're going through that is process and trusting what you're doing and kind of knowing that you're going to be alright on the other side of the fence?
"Yeah, well, look, the confidence in the process comes from demonstrated ability. I have been here long enough to see that when we do things the right way, then we can play pretty good defense around here. And so it's really just about, you can't focus in on, don't look at results. Because then if you're always looking at what the results are, you're kind of working backwards, the results are, they're exactly what that term means. They are a result of the work that you're putting in throughout the week. And so that's what we mean when we talk about the process, how we go about our meetings, how we go about our walkthroughs, how we go about our individual periods, how we go about going through practice, those are all the things that we've got to focus on and improving that because if that gets better, then the end result is just a byproduct of that work. Certainly there were some things early in the year where we didn't execute quite as well as we're capable of executing. But the thing that, and I kept saying it throughout those early weeks was, man, there's a lot of good things that we're doing, we've just got to eliminate the few bad places that we have. That's on us as coaches to clearly identify what we're looking for to eliminate some of the white noise and take some of the thought process out for our players and really try to simplify the game a little bit for them. And then that's our players really focusing in on all the minute details that we're trying to teach. And I think those two factors combined, I think we have done a better job of coaching. And I think our guys have done a better job of understanding the finer points of what we're trying to get accomplished. And they've locked in and done a really good job."
What was Malcolm Jenkins' role in that, because I know you guys brought him in to be sort of a quarterback coach on the field type, who got guys aligned and stuff, and helped eliminate some of the mental mistakes. So how much did he play a role, and I guess he was learning along with you guys, too?
"Yeah, so it's kind of a unique thing because Malcolm is a really, really smart, intelligent football player, he understands the game, he sees the big picture. But at the same time, he was learning along with all the other guys, so I think early on, it wasn't quite as easy because he was trying to help out. But yet, he didn't have all the finer details of what we're doing. Now, he had a good knowledge of football. And I think as he began to get more comfortable in the system and the different coverages we're playing and the different terminology that we use and all of those factors, kind of once he's gotten really comfortable in that, you've really seen his ability to communicate, his leadership ability really kind of take off. That was all, look, again, I'm going to use the word again, that was all part of the process. I mean, it doesn't just happen overnight. It takes a little time for that to kind of take hold and it certainly the process never stops. We've got to continue to work on getting better and improving in certain areas. And look, there's an ebb and flow to that, there's some things where you're working them, you do really good on them, and then all sudden you take a little bit of a step back, and you've got to go back to the basics a little bit more. And so I think our guys have just really appreciated how we continue to grind to get better each and every day, and they really take into that and have really done a good job with it."
Did you guys have any idea that Kwon Alexander would fit this well this fast?
"Well, look, it's kind of a hard question to answer. Look, we recognized that he was a very athletic player, a really talented player. What we didn't know really was how quickly he would get acclimated into what we're doing, and into our system and into our culture. And so in that regard, yeah, I guess a little bit surprised that so quickly, he's been able to acclimate to what we're doing. And kind of fit in with the rest of the group, and not really just fit in, but, man, brings an element to our group. An element of speed, an element of energy to our defensive group."
I'm going to kind of put you on the spot so feel free to tell me to stop.
"Don't give me free rein to say whatever I want to say (laughter)."
It's been a while since you've had an opportunity to be a head coach. This has been several years now you're putting together a really good defense here. Is this something that you hope lands you another chance to do that?
"Well, look, I would say this. Certainly, I would love to have that opportunity again at some point in time. But that's really, and I mean this sincerely, that's really none of my focus right now. My focus really is trying to do the best job I can to help this organization, to help Coach Payton win as many games as we possibly can win. And I think that's really what every assistant coach's job is. When you start worrying about other things outside of, again, I'll get back to it's all part of the process. Don't worry about what any of the end results are, just worry about what you are doing day in and day out, and all those other results, they end up taking care of themselves. And so, man, I am really focused on trying to get this defense as good as we possibly can be and continuing to get this group to improve and trying to press these guys to reach another level. And so that's really where my focus is. That's what I'm doing. I love this organization and I love working for Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis, Mrs. B, I think it's just been great for me and I'm having fun with doing what I'm doing."
You could even consider this as a follow up to that question, or just a general question, but in what ways do you think you're a better coach now than you've ever been? Coordinator or head coach?
"It's hard to necessarily point to specific examples. I mean, really it's just, I think everybody, the more you do something, and the harder that you work at it, you just get better through experience. And so again, I don't really take that kind of big picture view of everything, I just really kind of come in, take it one day at a time. I know that's kind of cliché, but take it one day at a time and continue to try to do the best job that I can do. Again, for this organization, try to help these players as much as I can and enjoy that process and enjoy getting an opportunity to work with the coaches that I get a chance to work with. And to coach the players that I get a chance to coach. I mean, it's really enjoyable for me to be able to do."
I thought you were going to tell me how you really feel (laughter).
"That's the truth, aright. I have always spoken the truth to you guys as much as I possibly can. But certainly, I don't give you all the good stuff."