Following this morning's practice, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams met with the media. He discussed his review of the defense's performance, the play of LB Jonathan Casillas, the versatility of LB Scott Shanle, among other topics. Below is a transcript of the session.
What were your overall impressions from Thursday's game?
"Typical first preseason game. Sean has done a great job of how he has tempoed practice and how we've played against the heat and how we've had our contact in practice. We even chose this year in our scrimmage to not have full contact and not tackle to the ground. So anytime when it's the first time you go out and tackle, there will be those little bitty things that you see that you have to improve on. In the first half, I don't think we tackled as well as we did in the second half. But I did see us react positively. I thought our pad level improved and that our effort improved. I thought our speed improved as the game wore on. They just have to get it under their cleats every year and you have to go through that full-speed, no holds barred kind of play. There are some things that we always have to improve on and I'm glad training camp is still here because we still have a lot of work to do.
"I thought a couple of young guys really stood up; a couple of our young guys that we needed to see play quite a bit. We had a couple of guys play 40 or 50 snaps in the opening preseason game and a lot of that had to do with some injuries at positions where we were light on numbers, but they responded pretty well. I like what I saw out of a few of those young guys."
How has Jonathan Casillas stepped up at the linebacker position?
"I thought he played with great speed and he played with good decision-making. He had a couple of things that we need to correct, but here's the next thing and you'll see us be on him pretty hard this week in practice because you and everyone else is going to be kissing his butt all week long about how good he was. He hasn't done anything in a regular game right now and now he has to do it when someone else sees that he has flashed. Any time a player flashes, he becomes a marked man the next time that a grown man gets ready to play against him. So all of a sudden, he becomes a marked man and we'll see how he plays this week when he's marked because he stood out on film."
What happened on the touchdown runs that the Patriots had near the goal line?
"It's an adjustment. One of the things which was good is that without game-planning – and we did zero game-planning, we didn't watch any film on them – even in the practice sessions they came out with a couple of formations and motions that we hadn't seen, and there is the youth that you see. You see the youthful communication errors when all of a sudden there's a motion adjustment and they changed the look of the play by how they created the formation and we had a guy that adjusted to motion incorrectly and voided a gap. Those are things that are correctable, and I think we have. I think those guys understood it. We did a pretty good job on the sideline and they weren't repeating mistakes after we corrected it."
What was the reason for the up-downs at the start of practice today?
"The basic thing is that when we start the season we get a chance to take the ball away and we didn't take the ball away. We had a chance to give up rushing touchdowns. We have to make sure that we get in better shape to understand that that's not how we are. It was just a little bit of a message-sending."
Did it work?
"I don't know; we'll see. Let's watch and see this week in practice and let's see this week against the Texans. I learned that from Buddy Ryan a long time ago. It's ok for them to go talk about me in the locker room. Get unified; go talk about me in the locker room. Rise up and do something different in the game this week; then I'll be happier with you."
How has Scott Shanle done so far?
"In all honesty, Scott Shanle might be one of the most underrated linebackers in the National Football League. Scott Shanle can do it all for us. He can play all three positions; he can actually even play the strong safety position. He can rush; he can cover; he can play physical; he's a strong, stout man on the line of scrimmage. But his flexibility allows us to do an awful lot of things. What I don't think people realize is how well he runs. He can cover any back out of the backfield and you'll see me put him on wide receivers in a ballgame. I'm not afraid for him to line up and cover wide receivers in a game; especially the big, tall matchups when you maybe have a smaller corner and they're going to put a big guy in the slot. Scott Shanle can do all those kinds of things and he's a real versatile linebacker.
"Here's another thing. When you look out there this week, which was really a good chance to take a look at it, Jon Vilma was the only go out there that has a lot of playing experience in the run front. To get a chance to see some of the other guys play, it was really good because you try to simulate and you try to do as many things in practice to picture how it's going to be in a game but you can't do it until you get in the game. It will be good to see (Shanle) get back on the field."
What did you think of Patrick Robinson's play the other night?
"Patrick has a lot of skill but right now he doesn't know how to play. Right now I don't have any trust in him. He has to take the next step up in pro football. He's had too much down time and he doesn't know how to take care of his body. Right now, he's my whipping boy."