New Orleans Saints Safety D.J. Swearinger
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, September 4, 2020
I noticed that you seem to be the camp leader in stripped ball attempts, whether it's on the sideline or after a play. Is that something you picked out with this Saints defense or is that something you brought with you? Where did you pick that up?
"I brought it with me. I picked it up back, I guess I'll say year two, I forced about three or four forced fumbles, but we created a habit on that team my second year just punching the ball out. After that season, we led the league in forced turnovers. That's sort of, kind of the mindset here as well, just trying to find ways to get the ball out. Whether it's punching the ball or whether it's picking the ball off. That's the formula that Coach (Dennis) Allen wants and we're just making sure we do what he's asking us to do. That's where that comes from."
I wanted to ask you about your week one opponent, I know you guys haven't installed or really scouted, but what are your impressions of what to expect from Tom Brady and a Bruce Arians offense? Be ready for anything, I guess?
"Yeah, I am most definitely ready. Knowing BA (Bruce Arians), I played two years under Coach Arians. I've got a lot of respect for Coach. Coach loves to throw the ball. I think he has the quarterback that he really wants in Tom Brady to take the deep ball shots. Brady can still throw the ball deep. They've got some deep receivers, Pro Bowl receivers, Gronk at tight end, some backs. So they pass the eye test pretty well. We are just getting ready to do whatever we need to do as a secondary, as a defense to keep those guys contained and try to get a win."
This secondary emphasizes position flexibility. We saw it last year with P.J. playing three different positions in one game, but for you, what makes your position group so dangerous because of that position flexibility?
"It makes us very dangerous because everybody can play anywhere and when you have that as a secondary makes you very versatile. Us being a versatile secondary, we can confuse a lot of quarterbacks. We can play a lot of different guys in different places and it just confuses the quarterback. It gives them a lot of different looks and we all have different games as well. Any one of us can go out there and get the job done and that's great when you're trying to build a Super Bowl team."
Have you played in a defense that emphasizes it this much?
"Yes, I have. In Arizona, a couple years I was there. My second year there we emphasized just taking the ball away and we ended up being number two defense. So it is definitely able to be done if you put your mind to it and everybody buys into it to be the stingiest defense out there. It can be done."
Now that you've had some extensive time in this defense and had a training camp, just assess how you feel like you've performed this training camp. It seems like you've been around the ball a ton, but your assessment on how you've been in this training camp?
"I feel like I've done a great job, especially it being my first training camp here just learning how the Saints practice, the way that Coach DA (Dennis Allen) wants everything ran, the way my DB coach, Aaron (Glenn) wants everything run and it has been a great, competitive camp. I feel like I have made some plays, have definitely been around the ball. I try to touch the ball every chance I get just to get that habit and get the conditioning. So I think I've given myself a good camp, but now it's time to get into real football and real game planning. That's what I think my strong point is, game planning, seeing it on film, making the corrections, communicating, breaking the team down and getting the job done."
I would imagine the chemistry back there has improved for you guys. Has it improved or pretty much carried over from last season?
"It is definitely improved. We have got different people in different spots now. The communication has definitely elevated. We've got a lot of experience. You've got a 12- year vet in Malcolm (Jenkins). You've got P-Rob (Patrick Robinson), 11 years, you've got Jackrabbit (Janoris Jenkins) with nine and I've got eight in myself. With us four along with the experience that the guys that have been here for four or five years, it brings a lot of talent, a lot of chemistry and experience that you cannot really coach. That's always a plus and the chemistry, it always helps the talent win."
Do you feel like because you were able to have a training camp with the team this year, do you feel like you got more comfortable in the defense?
"Yeah, I'm most definitely more comfortable in the defense. Your confidence comes from your repetition and your practice reps. Without those competition and practice reps, you don't have as much confidence, but with those reps you know that you gain experience, you get all your mistakes out of the way in camp, you know how you have to play certain routes or certain calls and you just get the feel, you get the feedback from the coaches coaching you right or wrong. You get the whole full circle and I think this training camp has been great for me and for the coaches to see what I bring to the table and for everybody else as well."
Kind of related, just considering the way last year went for you playing with three different teams, did that like change your mentality or your mindset at all kind of going into a season? Just thinking about making a squad and all that stuff?
"No, it never changed my mindset. My mindset is always to be the best football player I possibly can be and the best teammate that I possibly can be. Last year was just a rocky season. It was a learning season for me, how it transpired from a few things happening, but it's a new year. That's in the past. I'm looking forward to doing what I need to do to help the Saints win in whatever area they need me in. That's the focus. I want to be the best football player you possibly be."
From a defensive backs perspective, what is the greatest challenge of going against Tom Brady?
"Your greatest challenge is to disguise. He knows every coverage. He's a smart guy. He's been doing it 20 years so our challenge I would think would be us disguising, giving him looks pre-snap, confusing him pre-snap and giving him that second that we need as the secondary or the second the D-line needs, that extra second from a disguise, him having to know if you're in cover two, cover one or cover three. That can confuse him a little bit and it gives those guys up front a little extra second to get to him. That's what I think the biggest thing we need to do is to disguise."
Some of the big talk this week has been about Jadeveon Clowney, who you played in college with and with the Texans. Has he reached out to you or have you reached out to him? And also, if he did become a Saint, how would he fit into this defense you feel like?
"Yeah, man, that's my guy. That's been my longtime friend, he's been my friend since college, we played together in the league as well. We're looking forward to whatever happens, man. I know he's dealing with a lot of things right now, but if he does become a Saint, man, that'd be huge for us. We could use any great players and to use him that'd be perfect. But we'll see, man. Hopefully he does, but whatever he has going on, we'll let the chips fall where they may."
What do you think Leonard Fournette will bring to the Tampa offense?
"Well, he's a fierce runner. He runs hard. He runs behind his pads. He's a tough tackle for guys as well. He's going to bring some physicality to their offense, but we'll be ready for whatever the situation is on this defense, regardless of who they put back there."