New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Friday, December 6, 2019
I want to kind of get your feeling. Your defense is third against the rush. (San Francisco) is second in rushing. That's manhood against manhood. How have your players kind of dealt with that this week knowing what type of game it's going to be?
"I think it's just that. I think we understand what type of game it's going to be. Certainly, our rush defense is going to be contested, I think the 49ers with their scheme and how they coach those guys up in terms of…the speed is what is going to be the thing that you cannot really replicate in practice. That is what we are going to have to be prepared for. They do a really good job of understanding angles in terms of their blocking scheme and then off of each scheme, they're running the wide zone play and then off of that scheme they've got these bend plays and things of that nature that really stress your defense. Certainly, they do a good job of blocking those things up. Look, these backs are fast, they're really fast. Being able to set the edge and not let this thing run from us is going to be important."
You're talking about their backs, all of them including (Kyle) Juszczyk can catch the ball as well. Just from what you've seen on film from them that element that's also somewhat problematic?
"Look, certainly they're a problem coming out of the backfield and they do a great job of utilizing their backs. Really, they use everybody in the screen game, which is difficult for us to defend because they're so athletic out in space. They also use their backs coming out of the backfield and running wheel routes and option routes and things of that nature. And again, like I said, the speed with which they're able to run those routes and get matchups in space on linebackers is really a challenging thing. I think Kyle (Shanahan) has always done a great job with the offense. They do an outstanding job with their tempo, getting lined up, trying to catch the defense off guard a little bit. There's not a lot of tendencies as to what they're going to do when they're going to do them. So you really got to do a great job with your eyes and play everything honestly."
You somewhat answered a question I had. You've gone up against Kyle an awful lot, are you seeing any carryover from things he did in Atlanta with his team and personnel he's got in San Francisco?
"There's some similarities in terms of concepts that you see. I think San Francisco's probably a little bit different in that I think they are utilizing a little bit more two-back offense than what they utilized in Atlanta, although they did that in Atlanta. I don't know what that was…I think they felt like their primary personnel was 11, but they're utilizing a little bit more 12, 21, those types of things to be able to run the football. But there is certainly some carryover. He's incorporated a lot more the kind of zone read concepts, a lot more of this wide receiver fast motion and with the ability to hand the ball off or pitch the ball to the wide receiver plus get that to influence your eyes and then all of a sudden they're running one of their primary run plays. That's probably the biggest difference, but yet I see a lot of similarities. I think Kyle does a really good job of understanding who the players are and what he's asking those guys to do and I think he does a great job of utilizing his personnel."
Sheldon Rankins was saying last week that that's really the best he's felt since he got hurt. Can you see that kind of starting to show out on film? I know you said earlier this year he's playing pretty well, especially against the run, but what did you see last week?
"Look, I think anytime you have an injury that's as significant as what his injury was, it takes time to come back and there's going to be a little bit of ebb and flow in there when you're trying to recover from an injury like that. So there's going to be sometimes where maybe you don't feel as good and then all of a sudden you kind of catch your second wind a little bit and you regain a little bit of that good feeling and I think he's played really well for us. I do think you're seeing a guy that that's beginning to round back into form and back into shape. I think with him along with all the other guys that we have up front, being able to keep that consistent rotation, I think has been critical to our success up front."
I'm curious, he's such an even keel guy most of the time. Did you ever see him get down about that? Or maybe it affected him just because he wasn't the showman he's used to being?
"Look, Sheldon's one of those guys that kind of keeps his emotions in check and so he's not really going to let you know outwardly by his body language or anything like that. Whether it's feeling really good or he's feeling really bad. So I think it's just kind of paying attention to what you're seeing on the tape and trying to do the best that we can to manage his workload so we can have him as fresh as we can on Sundays."
When you look at this matchup, just the possibility of having two linebackers down specifically, what do you think kind of presents the biggest challenge for you there? And maybe does it force you to become really creative this week in how you're going to match up against this team?
"Look, certainly each week you go into a game plan and you understand who you have available to you and you're trying to put your best personnel out on the field that matches up with whatever personnel they're going to put out there. That's the thing about defensive football that you don't have control over. You really don't have control over what the offense decides to do. So you kind of got to react to what they're doing from a personnel standpoint. We feel really good about the guys that we have. We've got some guys here that have extensive starting reps at the linebacker position. Certainly, that's something that we've navigated through throughout the week. We feel good about the plan and now it's just really about going out and executing at a high level on Sunday."