New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call With Local Media
Friday, December 4, 2020
Why do you think the defense has been able to make the turn it has this season?
"I think there are certainly a lot of factors that go into it. I do think this–we were doing a lot of really good things early in the season. But yet, there were a handful of things that came up to bite us and really kind of soured the overall defensive performance and I think we have done a lot better job of guys executing, putting their eyes in the right spot. I think our communication has been better. I think as we've continued to go along, guys are really beginning to understand a lot more in terms of exactly what we're trying to get accomplished with each defensive call. They're getting more comfortable in the system."
You mentioned guys getting more comfortable, did you need to find different positions to put them in or was it fine where they were and they needed to get comfortable there?
"I think there's a little bit of combination of both of those. In those earlier games where we didn't quite execute at all times like we were capable of, I felt like some of that was something I needed to do a better job of and we needed to execute and play a little bit better too."
How much does that allow guys to play faster the more comfortable they get?
"It's everything. It's everything that's all about defensive football, when you know exactly what to do and you put your eyes in the right spot and us as coaches do a good job of giving you A and B…If they do this I want you to do this and if they do that I want you to do that and then everything else in between, let those guys go out and play football. I think we've done a better job of that. I think our guys really understand what we are trying to do defensively and trying to accomplish with everything that we're doing and then I think when guys experience success in doing things a certain way they get more and more comfortable with it and I think success tends to breed success."
Raheem Morris said earlier this week that Dennis Allen is a problem for his team. How creative do you feel you have to get?
"I think you go into each gameplan and attack each gameplan a little bit differently. Certainly my ability and our ability as coaches to be more creative is all based on what we're able to handle as a defense and as players. So, the credit always goes to the players because for us to play well defensively those guys have to be able to go out there and execute and do their job. I think as they've gotten more and more comfortable in the system that's become easier for us to do."
Tell me a lot of what you said earlier has to do with C.J. Gardner-Johnson as he seems to be playing with more confidence and being active around the ball?
"I think that applies to everybody. I don't care if you're a rookie or ten-year vet. The more and more comfortable that you are with what you're doing gives you the confidence to go out there and play and when you totally understand the whole concept of the defense, the call, whatever it may be, then it allows you to really go out there and play fast. What really takes over is your natural ability. We're fortunate that we have a lot of good football players, a lot of guys with a lot of natural ability and so I think it's now just beginning to gel together a little bit. We still have a ton of things that we have to work on to improve. I've said this earlier in the season and I'm saying the same thing right now that it's all about our process and what we do during the week to get ourselves ready during the week to play on Sunday or Monday or whenever they ask us to play. That will never change and certainly we have good football players that work incredibly hard to play to the best of their ability and we're starting to see some of the fruits of the labor."
You guys have the number one ranked defense for the first time in 20 years. Do you guys take any satisfaction or not care about rankings?
"I think the moment you begin to start patting yourself in the back is when someone kicks you in the rear. So, we don't really pay a whole lot of attention to that. We didn't pay attention to it early in the season. We're not paying attention to that now. The only stat we care about is winning games, how many games we can win and we defensively, we want to make sure we're doing everything we can to be one of the reasons why we're winning games and not one of the things that's holding us back and so, it's really just kind of the mindset that we have and the mindset our players have that we don't really look backwards, there will be plenty of time to reflect once the season's over. We have to focus in on a good opponent that we have to play this week and we're looking forward to that challenge."
The last two times you have played these guys you have combined for 17 sacks and it seems like they were a combination of you guys both winning their one on ones and back end coverage leading to coverage sacks. How do those two things mesh up?
"The best indicator of good defenses, pass defense is about good team defense and you really can't have…Rush and coverage have to work together and you really can't have one without the other. You can have the best rush and come scot-free on every single snap, but if the quarterback doesn't have to hold the ball which they don't hold the ball a lot in this league, you're not going to get sacks. You may get some hurries and pressures but the sacks aren't going to occur and vice versa if you're covering them really good and can't get near the quarterback, the talent level at skill positions in this league, guys are going to get open. So, when you see an improvement in pass defense it's generally a combination of rush and coverage working together."