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Transcript: New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen training camp interview - Sunday, Aug. 30

Allen spoke with media on on special teams goals at Saints Training Camp 2020

New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Training Camp Video Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Sunday, August 30, 2020

Regardless of the player, whether it's C.J. (Gardner-Johnson) or P.J. (Williams), you have been working a lot with this quote unquote position-less defensive player. What does that add to your defense?
"Well, look, I think every year we're really looking for guys that have versatility that can do multiple things. I think it just gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of how you game plan for different teams and what type of matchups you might want to utilize when playing different teams. So it's really all about versatility and that's really the way that this game has kind of moved, to be able to do multiple things. It just gives us more flexibility defensively in terms of what we can do."

When would you say that shift, I guess started happening in terms of guys being able to play two, three positions?
"Well, look, I think it's always been something that we've looked for. Certainly, we always haven't had the same caliber of guys that had that same versatility. But look, I think as offenses have begun to spread out the formations a little bit more and give you a little bit more unique or exotic type of looks, it's required more In terms of that, and with everything being spread out like it is, having guys that have the ability to play in space has really been a critical aspect of being able to play good defense." 

Would you say that your Janoris Jenkins is having a good camp? And is just being familiar with the situation and sometimes to be able to relax in a situation enough to help a guy sort of make a jump?
"Well, yeah, look, I think he's had an excellent camp. Certainly, he's way further along right now than he was at any point last year, because he does have some familiarity with what we're doing defensively. Certainly, once you know what your job is within a defense then you're able to just let your natural talent take over and just really go play the game of football and you're not really thinking a lot about what's my responsibility on this play? It's more about, okay, what type of formation is the offense in? What type of plays can I anticipate getting? And then and then within the scheme of the defense, how can I go about trying to make a play?" 

Have you noticed what you would say is a significant jump in the guy you had the last couple of games last year and the guy you're seeing right now?
"Certainly, he's a very confident player and has every right to be a confident player because he's got a lot of talent. And so I think you're seeing his playmaking ability even more because he is familiar with what we're doing defensively and there's not a lot of thinking going on. There's just a lot reacting and letting his natural ability take over."

We've been seeing P-Rob (Patrick Robinson) make a lot of plays in practice lately. We kind of saw him get injured a couple years ago and I don't know if he's been the same player since then, but is he kind of looking a little bit different this camp to you?
"I certainly think he has been having a good camp. I have been really pleased with what I have seen out of him. He has been playing really well. He is another guy that has played a couple of different positions for us. He plays a little bit of outside corner, plays some inside slot corner. So I've been really pleased with what he's been able to do in this camp."

Obviously, the defensive line's very deep this year. Does that allow you guys some more flexibility with what you're planning with the rest of the defense?
"I think everything really starts up front. You've got to have the ability to control the line of scrimmage if you want to be a good defense and so we've got a lot of guys that I think are highly capable players that can really play good defense for us. I think you've seen throughout this camp, I think we've been able to do some good things in terms of trying to play the run and also be able to get after the passer a little bit and I think I've been pleased with where we've been in terms of our four-man pass rushes and being able to affect the quarterback. It allows you to do a lot of different things in the back when you when you can do that."

What would happen if you caught the virus and you couldn't be it a game calling plays and what are you guys doing to possibly prepare for that contingency?
"We have had those discussions and we are just going to kind of keep that in house in terms of what our actual plans are and how we'd go about doing that. But, we do have a plan if that was the case, and certainly I hope you're not being the Jinx to me (laughter). I hope we do not have to deal with that. But if we do, we do have a contingency plan ready."

I know you guys haven't started game planning too much for week one, but just approaching getting ready to face Tom Brady with a new team and a new offense, what is it about him that makes you just respect the challenge and what is it about him that you're going to have to prepare for in that game?
"The biggest thing with Tom is there is not a look he has not seen. Trying to fool him is going to be really difficult to do. He knows exactly where to go with the ball based on the picture you're giving him defensively. So that's a huge challenge when quarterbacks are able to do that. I certainly think he's able to kind of dictate where the protection is going to go to try to give himself the best opportunity to have success. We understand that that is going to be a big challenge. They have a lot of weapons on offense. Tom is certainly in the conversation for the best to ever play the position so we understand the type of challenge that that's going to be, but at the same time we're excited about that challenge and looking forward to the opportunity to go out and competing against not just Tom Brady, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."

I think everybody knows about the wide receiver depth in this division that you're in, but does it also become important to have like linebackers who can cover considering you have (Rob) Gronkowski, (Christian) McCaffrey and Todd Gurley now in this division and Atlanta traded (for) the tight end (Hayden) Hurst. How important is that? Obviously you need to have a Marshon Lattimore, but also a Demario Davis, (Alex) Anzalone, that sort of thing.
"That kind of gets back to what we were talking about earlier in terms of matchups how you can play different teams. Different team's offenses are going to have certain strengths and areas that we've got to make sure that we can take that away. I think it is a challenge. I think everybody in this game, for you to be successful on defense, has to be good in past coverage. Whether that's zone coverage, man coverage, that doesn't really matter. But this is a passing league. Certainly, the run is important and you have to be able to run football on offense and stop the run on defense. But points are scored in our league throwing the football. I think all these matchups and ability to play in space is critical to having success."

With the league getting smaller and becoming more of a passing league, has that made it more viable or possible that to play safety in the box and match up that way because you won't to have such a significant mismatch there?
"Yeah, look, I think that certainly you've seen a lot of teams around the league do that and play a lot of dime situations to get the best matchups in the passing game. I think each game in terms of how you game plan will be different. The offense a lot of times is going to kind of dictate how you're going to match up and what personnel groupings you're going to put on the field."

Would you say you have more quality secondary depth than maybe is usual? Is that a strength of this team, the number of quality interchangeable pieces you have in the secondary?
"Yeah, look, I think depth overall on our defense is as good as it's been since I've been back here. I think we've got some really good depth and we've got a lot of tough decisions that we're going to have to make when it comes down to cutting the team. Here's the thing about depth, everybody's got to play in this league because you face injuries and things of that nature. So it's just as important that you have quality depth and backup players as it is that you have your frontline players because eventually those guys are going to have to play and they're going to have to go in and perform at a at a really high level. So I do think we do have some solid depth in our secondary."

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