New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Training Camp Presented By Verizon Media Availability
Saturday, July 30, 2016
This is the point where you start to get a sense of what you guys can really do on day one with pads?
"Yes, this is the first day where we were actually practicing (with full gear). We have a long way to go; we have a lot of things that we have to get better at, a lot of things we have to accomplish. I think we have had a good first few days of practice. Look, Sean (Payton) said it today to the team: 'There is no light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to put our heads down and go to work.' The good thing about it is that that's what our guys are doing. It's encouraging, but we still have a lot of work to do."
Cameron Jordan said a big part of this defense would be the development of the first-year guys to the second year. How excited are you about some of these guys that played a bit last year with their expected development?
"Well, I think that's what we're looking to see. I think in general, when you look at the development of a player, a lot of times you see the biggest improvement from year one to two. We played a lot of young guys last season, and I am anxious to see what their development is. But overall, (I am excited) to see how this group gels together because this is a team game. We're going to need everybody to be successful."
Tim (Lelito) was just saying how valuable it's been that the defense has fewer missed assignments and that they understand what's going on. Have you noticed that?
"As a coach, you're never satisfied. I'm always looking at it. We made a ton of mistakes out there today. But that's part of it. That's why we go to training camp. Our job on defense is (that) we have to make the other team beat us. Our ability to go out and execute and do what we're supposed to do (is critical). Sometimes that may put us in an unfavorable matchup at times, but we have to understand how to get ourselves out of that down, survive that down, and go to the next one. The first thing that you have to be able to do to win in this league is figure out how not to beat yourself. The first thing to that is making sure you're executing your assignment."
Nick Fairley left today and that put Sheldon (Rankins) with the (first team). How much do you manage Sheldon's reps?
"I think for the most part, the way we script out practice handles that. Generally, those team sessions go in groups of four—guys are getting about four reps a piece. He's been taking all the reps when it comes up to his turn, whether he's been with the ones or with the twos. That's just something that we have to manage as training camp goes along. Specifically, these young guys, they need all the reps they can get."
Has Erik Harris been a pleasant surprise?
"He has. He's done a really nice job. It was unfortunate to see him go out in practice today, but hopefully he'll be back soon and get back out there. I think, much like we saw with Delvin Breaux last year—I don't want to get into any comparisons or anything—much in the same way, we've seen him be a pleasant surprise."
It's still early, but after last season, have you picked up on the mindset of this defense?
"I like the mindset of the defense. I like the way that we have gone out and competed. Make no mistake about it: we go against one of the best offenses in the league every day when we go out here. So, it is great competition for us; it is great work for us. That's what we are looking for. We are looking for guys that want to go out and compete and not take a backseat to anybody. But let's go out and compete as a team, and that's how we are going to get better on both sides of the ball."
Looking at yesterday's practice you were being vocal as far as hustle. Is that something that you emphasize to players when you are watching the film because that's something you can control is hustle?
"We have total control over about how fast we play and how hard we play. There are going to be times where the offense is going to do some things that might dictate some different matchups, they might catch us in a bad situation but how we get out of those situations is that we have 11 guys hustling to the football. I was trying to think of the right term without saying what I normally would out on the practice field. But effort, we've got total control over that. Now the first part of effort is let's make this a scheme where we understand where we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to be doing so we aren't thinking we're just going out there and playing fast."
How important do you think this camp is for Rafael Bush and what does he have to do to get back?
"Look this camp is important to all of them. Nobody is being given anything and that's not specifically talking to Jairus (Byrd). We've got to go out and compete, everybody does, Drew Brees has to go out and compete just like everybody else. Look everybody says it but we're not putting lip service to that. We're going to go out, we're going to compete, we're going to have to find out who the best 11 are and those are the guys that are going to get the majority of the playing time."
So what does he have to do to get back to being the player that he used to be?
"I think the first thing is to stay healthy and part of that is going to be up to us and how we manage him throughout training camp. We have to be smart about how many reps he's taking, but when he's out there we need to see full speed reps. I've been very happy with what I've seen so far both in how he went about the rehab process throughout the offseason, in the summer and what he's done up to this point in camp."
What stands out when you see healthy glimpses of him (Jairus Byrd)?
"I see a guy that still has the ability to run, still has some range, he's smart, he does a good job of understanding where the quarterback wants to go with the football, I still see a guy that can still go out and make plays on the football for us, we'll see as camp goes along."
When you say you'd like to him to play fast and not think out there, what is the balance between that and not having too simple of a scheme?
"When you go through and install a scheme whether it be offensively or defensively, we try to be as multiple as we can but a lot of the concepts stay the same throughout the vain of the defense whether we are in a sub package, a base package, we might be in a short yardage goal line, whatever the case may. The more we can have that's same as, carry over throughout the defense the better we're going to be and the things that we're working on on day one are the same things that we're going to be working on the last day of the season and if we're able to do that I think that's how you have a successful team."
How do you achieve being aggressive? Is it through disguising the defense?
"I think the more comfortable guys feel in the scheme and the more they understand what their responsibility is, the more freedom they have to disguise and give the offense some different looks. I think when the scheme is always changing guys aren't really thinking about where they need to be. What we need to be thinking about is what's the offense doing. How are they aligning, how are they coming out of the huddle, what's the formation, what's the splits, what's the quarterback look like. Those are the things we have to get to. The quicker we can understand exactly what we're supposed to do on defense. The faster we're going to be able to understand how the offense is trying to attack us."
Is your history with Sean Payton beneficial or is too much taken from that?
"Our job is to play good defense and to win football games. I think Sean and I have a good relationship, but at the end of the day I have a job to do and my job is to make sure that this defense executes to the best of their ability. That's the way we look at it. We can have whatever relationship we want to have off the field, but when it comes to football that's business. We have to go out and play good defense."
How helpful is it to have a guy with James Laurinaitis' experience?
"It's huge. The best defenses are the one that communicate. A lot of that gets back to installing the scheme and sticking to the scheme and making sure on a day in and day out basis. I think it helps that James has been a part of a system that is very similar to what we are have here and when you have someone in the middle that is kind of the glue that keeps everybody together and keeps everybody on the same page it gives you a chance to have success."
Do you see any similarities between Laurinaitis and Jonathan Vilma?
"I don't like to get into a lot of comparisons, but what I do see is a guy that's extremely smart and understands what we are doing defensively and how offenses are trying to attack. In that regard there are some similarities."
How intrigued are you by the three guys competing for that edge spot? (Obum Gwachum, Kasim Edebali and Davis Tull)
"I am interested to see how those guys come along, but look there are a lot of guys that are competing for a lot of different positions and just because a guy might line up at a certain position on day three of training camp (doesn't mean that) when we open up the season that is where he will end up. It is a total evaluation process, not only with who is going to be out on the field with us, but exactly what role and what position they are going to play. We are going to need everybody. There's going to be some different substitution packages and we'll find roles for guys that we feel will help us win games."
Is Bobby Richardson playing a different position than DE?
"Bobby is a guy that has the ability to play a closed side defensive end. He is a guy that also has the ability to move inside on certain sub rushes. He is really doing a lot of the same things he did for us last year. Except he might move inside a little more because we want to take a look at him at defensive tackle on some of the sub packages."
Do you have some general impressions about how the pass rush is coming along?
"I like the direction that we are headed. I think we are a little bit deeper at defensive tackle than we have been in a while. I think that is a positive. Everybody gets so enamored by the edge rush, but really you have to be able to have some pressure up the middle to not allow these quarterbacks to step up in the pocket and have clean windows to throw the ball into. I am excited about it, but we are only on day three. There is still a lot to accomplish."
What kind of coach do you see yourself as?
"There is right and there is wrong. If you do right, there is praise. If you do wrong, you're going to get corrected and sometimes that's a little bit sterner than at other times. We don't have a lot of rules. We want our guys to be on time and what our guys to do their job and do what they're supposed to do. We want them to play fast and if they do those things they will have a chance to have success in this defense and it's pretty simple. I do have a belief in how defense is supposed to be played. My job is to make sure it looks like that as many times as it possibly can."
What is that belief?
"The belief is that we have to be a fast, aggressive, attacking type of defense. You can't play defense sitting back on your heels. You can't play defense 95%. It has to be all out effort and it has to be everybody on the field. The best defenses I have been around had those characteristics and attributes and when we haven't been as successful, we haven't had as much of that. It is really a philosophy and culture of how we are going to play and not as much of what we are going to play."