New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt
Saturday, August 18, 2012
"We received some bad news today on Chris Chamberlain. He's going to be out for the year with a knee injury. We all know this part of the game. He had become a big part of our football team. Number one, he had mastered the system, because he had played with Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) up in St. Louis. He was a great communicator among his teammates. He was always willing to help his teammates get better. He was a perfect fit for what we were trying to get done here, so that's a blow. It's a little bit of a setback. He's going to work his butt off in the offseason to come back and be the player that he was. He's going to have the support of his teammates, coaching staff and the whole organization. But it's a setback for us. We'll deal with it, but that's the way it is.
"I really don't feel much differently than I did last night. I haven't gotten through all the special teams films. I just started on the offense and looked at the defense all morning. I think one of the culprits again defensively was our ability to tackle last night and tackle in space. When you play a team like Mike Mularkey's team, he's going to force the corners to tackle a lot in space. We have to do a better job with our corner support. He's going to give you a lot of misdirection plays with shifts. When he was at Atlanta, that was always a challenge for you, a week's worth of work to get prepared for that game. We only worked on these guys for one day. Once we settled down, we did a pretty good job.
"I thought the first team offense, on the limited film I've seen so far, did a good job. I think Drew's (Brees) ball location was right on. I thought our coverage teams did a good job last night except for the one kickoff return. We simply had someone come out of our lane and that could be catastrophic, but the guys worked hard to get back and make the tackle. This week we're back in a regular season schedule, starting on Monday, getting ready to play the Texans. Monday will not be dedicated to the Texans. We're going to do some Washington Redskins work and we'll have the competition period of practice. Tuesday, we'll get onto the Texans and start looking at them. We're going to run our computer reports for a dry run and make sure everything's in a working mode for when the regular season starts."
How do you fill the void of Chris when he played all three positions?
"You don't fill it right away. You really don't. This right now with our defense is a work in progress, so we're going to have to sit down tomorrow. What we did today was with all of the players. We looked at all the defense with the players, special teams and offense. Tomorrow we'll have a personnel meeting. We'll step back a little bit and see where we are injury wise. We may have some position changes. That's exactly where we are. Right now we don't have someone in the building with Chambo's value to the defense because he can play a sam, mike or will with good efficiency and production. He had great communications skills with his teammates, helping them get lined up. He shared his information. The answer is we don't have anybody right now."
What is the specific injury?
"It's a knee injury. I'm not sure of that. I wouldn't want to say that. He took an X-ray last night, an MRI this morning and he's out for the year."
You brought up position changes. Do you have any inclination about what they might be?
"We have some young guys that we're going to take a look at. We signed Ramon Humber a week ago. That was one of the things that we liked about Ramon was that he could play three positions. He's really more of a Mike or Will player than a Sam. Like I said, when we come back and take a look at this, we'll look at the board tomorrow and see where we are."
Do you have any updates on Andy Tanner?
"Andy has a sprained ankle. The word we got this morning is it's not as bad as we originally thought last night, but we'll wait and see on him."
Do you have any updates on Isa Abdul-Quddus?
"He's fine today. You go through the protocol now to see how he is."
Were you surprised at how the defense played last night after how well they played the first two games?
"No. Was I surprised? No, because I think everyone who has covered us kind of sees the way when we start a game against the Atlanta Falcons, we're on our heels a little bit. Mike Mularkey does a good job of scripting the first 15 plays. He scripts those plays with different personnel groupings on every snap. He scripts those plays with a lot of misdirection plays to try to mess with the eyes of the linebackers and secondary. And if you're really not practicing it all week long and all of a sudden you have some zone pressures called, there could be a bit of confusion. We felt we played better. We wanted to play better. The players' intent and hearts are in the right place. This is something we're going to clean up and we're going to move on. I like our defense and I really like this team."
With the normal NFL officials, you're able to scout them and prepare for what they look for. With the replacement officials, will it be harder to do that if they're officiating in the regular season?
How do you go about handling it?
"We'll have to wait and see what happens when the time comes during the regular season."
This was Patrick Robinson's first game back since he injured his shoulder. Did he show a little rust?
"Listen, I don't care who you are or how many years you've played in the league, playing this game isn't like riding a bike. You learn to ride a bike when you're three years old. You can ride one when you're 80 if you can get on it. You have to be fine-tuned to play this game at a high level. It's a game of angles and timing. You have to be in sync. Patrick was a little rusty early in the game last night missing some tackles, but that's why we play these games and that's why we practice every day."
Can you talk about Corey White and his progression?
"I think he's getting better. He came real close last night to making an interception that we thought he had made. He's getting lined up, I think he's seeing formations and the splits at wide receivers, and I think he's doing a better job of acting as opposed to reacting. I think he's getting better every day, I really do. I'm very pleased."
With Steve Spagnuolo's new defensive scheme, how much does losing a player like Chris Chamberlain hurt since he has been in this defensive system for a while and knows how to communicate with people on how to line up?
"A lot of the communication between Curtis (Lofton) and Chambo (Chris Chamberlain) came in the meeting room. Chambo is still going to be a part of our football team. He'll be in the meeting rooms. Once we have somebody hurt around here, they get their treatment in the morning and they try to spend as much time with the football team as they can, especially in the meeting rooms. That communication will still be there. The bond will still be there. I think these initial couple of weeks after the surgery is going to be a challenge. Curtis and he have a great relationship. I still expect that they still will and Chambo is going to help us along the way."
Is there a scheduled date for surgery?
"Not to my knowledge."