New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Training Camp video conference call with New Orleans media
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020
You are starting to see Malcolm Jenkins back onto the field now after basically the only thing we really knew about him the last couple months was how active he was with all this social justice stuff and everything like that. Is there anything that you've seen so far from him on the field that has just made you say like, that's exactly why we want this guy here?
"Yeah, look, I don't think anything's changed in terms of what we feel like this guy is as a player. He's extremely smart. He's played a lot of football. He's done a good job in a leadership role for us. I think the communication back in the back end has been really good with him back there. So there's a lot of things that he can do. There's a lot of versatility in what he can do. We're excited about happening and I think he's exactly what we were looking for when we signed him in the offseason."
Is that communication and experience, knowledge the sort of stuff he brings? Is that something that you were missing on the back end previously, not saying like Vonn (Bell) didn't have it or anything, but just like that veteran presence?
"I think so a little bit. That's no slight on anybody that we had here previously. But, Malcolm's played a lot of football. He's won two World Championships. So he's a guy that has that experience and he has that experience of playing at a championship level and I think that's been good for our for our guys as well as some of these guys like Marcus Williams and Marshon Lattimore and those type of guys have really began to develop in their own and they're now going into years four and beginning to get some of that experience so I like where we're at in terms of our back end right now."
Specifically Sheldon Rankins, he is going into final year of his deal. We know he was been banged up a lot the last year. How do you kind of see his snaps going in camp and where is he health-wise in obviously an important year for him in his career?
"Yeah, well, No. 1, we are in camp so we've got a pretty good rotation going, so I don't think anybody's taking too many snaps. I've liked what I've seen out of him so far. He looks like he's moving really well. I'm excited about having him out there and getting him back and getting him going. I think he'll have a really good year for us and I really don't see a whole lot of negative things coming off that injury. I really see a guy that really looks good moving and looks explosive and powerful and certainly, we feel like he brings a lot to us in terms of the ability to rush the passer."
I'm curious when you (have) two corners like Marshon (Lattimore) and (Janoris) Jenkins, does that change anything you can do in the pass rush? Can you do some different things when you know some guys can cover a little bit longer?
"Yeah, look I think having guys that that can cover like those guys can, it gives us the ability to play a little bit more man-to-man coverage. Maybe bring five-, six-man rushes a little bit more to try to put some pressure on the quarterback. But look, obviously, you've got 11 guys that you've got to deal with and they can take two guys out of the game, but yet there's still three more eligible receivers that you got to be able to cover. So I think there's a balance to that. But certainly, the number one thing that a corner has to be able to do is a corner has to be able to cover in our scheme, and we feel like we've got two really good cover corners."
On Marshon (Lattimore) specifically, is there an area you're looking for him to grow and take a step as a player and is his type of personality the kind that like responds well to being pushed, like pushed hard toward that end?
"Yeah, look, I think Marshon is a competitive guy. He's not a real vocal guy, but he's very competitive. He's got a lot of pride about himself and he's been working extremely hard in this camp. I think he'd say that just that consistency on a play-in and play-out basis on a game-in and game-out basis. That is really what separates the great ones from just the really good ones. We feel like he has got the talent to be a great player. He's played outstanding for us up to this point and I've seen a lot of improvement out of him really in just the way that he's really working on his on his technique. He's really been having a good camp so far."
Is consistency just a focus thing?
"Yeah, look, I think so, and look, I think we've put a lot on this player in terms of the matchup that he has on a week-in and week-out basis. And you've really seen him rise to the occasion when he plays some of the best receivers in the league. We're just trying to get that level of play for 16 straight weeks. Man, I think this guy's locked in and I'm really I'm really excited about him."
As far as your nickel corner battle, we've seen P.J. (Williams) play that a lot. We've seen (C.J. Gardner-Johnson) play that a good bit and both of them kind of playing safety and corner. How do you kind of see their roles with the team given it seems like you could play either one of them at either spot at this point?
"Yeah, look, I think with both of those players, both of them give us the versatility of being able to play multiple positions, whether it be the nickel position, whether it be the safety position, whether it be the outside corner position. I think in every year having that variety of things that you can do is important in our defense, but I think even more so this year just having guys that have the versatility to play multiple spots. Certainly, when you look at some of the matchups in our league, what Tampa has done offensively down there in terms of the players that they've acquired, you can't get enough good cover guys and just having that versatility of being able to do multiple things is going to give us a little bit of an advantage in terms of how we can play."
Specifically with P.J. (Williams), we only got to see him play a couple games at safety last year and played well. Just with our brief looking's at practice, it seems like he's been playing well. How much has that helped him really keep a spot in the secondary and a regular spot within the secondary?
"Well, yeah, I think it's really kind of come natural to him. P.J. is a football player. He is really intelligent. He's really instinctive and, certainly, that lends to the ability to play the safety position, a little bit of the communication in terms of the amount of calls and checks and things have been a little bit new to him. But certainly, I feel like he's kind of settled in and playing really well. Certainly, it seems like it's been a natural transition for him, but at the same time, look, P.J.'s kind of, in my mind, kind of our Swiss Army knife. I think there's a lot of things that he can do and again, when you can play multiple positions and do multiple things within our defense that makes you very valuable."
Marcus (Williams) was telling us last week that his tackling is kind of the one issue that he's working on and that's where he needs to make improvement. Is that a physical thing or a mental thing or is it a want to or is it all those things? What do you feel like it is, the hurdle there for him to get to where he wants to be?
"Yeah, that's good question. It's really kind of hard to say exactly what that is. I think there is some physical element to it. I think there is probably some mental element to it. I think the thing he's done is he's recognized that's an area that he needs to improve on. One of the things that he did in the offseason is he bulked up a little bit. I think he's about 208 pounds now, which I think will help in terms of visibility to tackle. And so I think that with any weakness that you have as a player, everybody has them and the ability to identify what those are and work to correct those sayings is really what we're looking for. Look, we haven't had an opportunity to tackle yet so, so time will only tell. But, certainly, I like the way that he's moving around and I like the way that he's attacking that in terms of trying to improve in that area."
I'm going to ask you a question that I get asked a lot by fans. The conversation with them is that he is a polarizing guy as far as people discussing him, how much weight does the tackling issue play into it versus his coverage, which is really, really good, but then you have this other thing that maybe is lagging a little bit behind?
"Well, certainly with, look, every player has weaknesses. Every player has things that they have to work on. Every player has things that they have to improve on. I think when you look at it, you've got to take a holistic approach in terms of evaluating the player and you identify, alright, what are the things that we have to improve on? What are the things we have to get better at? And you go about attacking that and trying to get better in those in those areas. And so, look, I think Marcus is a good player for us. I think he's played a lot of football for us. He's made a lot of plays for us. Certainly, there's aspects that he has to improve on, and he's going about trying to do that."
Zack Baun just so far into this camp has been playing in space a little bit more. What have you seen and how is that transition going?
"Yeah, look, certainly it's a learning curve. There's been some really good plays and then there's been some plays that that haven't been so good. So I think it is still a work in progress. We're excited about the player. I think he is another guy that can bring some versatility and some athleticism to the position. I think for a rookie, I think it is way too early really to form too many strong opinions one way or the other. The big thing for him is, let's just keep coming out here every day and working and try to get better. If we keep stacking good days on top of each other, eventually we will see some pretty big improvement."
I think (Aaron Glenn) this offseason mentioned that he feels like Janoris (Jenkins) is a really good like press corner and it's something maybe he wasn't asked to do a whole lot of in his previous stop. Do you kind of agree with that assessment? Does he give you some ability to do some stuff there with just playing up on guys?
"Well, yeah, look, certainly, we feel like we got two of the better cover corners in the league. I think both of those guys are really good cover corners. They're different in that Marshon's a little bit of a bigger, physical type of corner, Jackrabbit's going to use his speed and his quickness a little bit more. But we feel like both of those guys have great coverage ability for us and, certainly, as I've said before, that's going to allow us to maybe do some different things in terms of coverage and in terms of pressure and trying to affect the quarterback."
Bringing in Nigel Bradham, look, he's certainly an experienced guy, starter, what is the vision for him and bringing in someone like him? How does it kind of calm the waters with some of the injuries and maybe inexperience from some linebackers?
"Yeah, look, I think when you kind of look at our linebacker position, we've got Demario Davis who's obviously an established player in our league. Alex Anzalone who we feel like is a really good player, but coming off of an injury and then really we kind of got, Craig Robertson's another veteran player, but we've got a lot of really young guys that are really unproven that we're excited about. But yet we got to see it. I think the thing with Nigel is you bring another veteran in that you know has played in this league and has been a good and productive player in this league. You throw him into the mix, and you kind of see how it all sorts out, but he's just another player that we felt like was a good addition that we could come in and add to the competition during training camp. I think ultimately, we let this thing play out and see how it works out."