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Saints v. Detroit--Payton, Williams, Carmichael, Big Hits
Written by  // Saturday, 03 December 2011 11:57 //

graham-panthersThere were  a couple of big hits on defenseless receivers during Monday night's Saints-Giants game, but neither of them drew fines from the NFL office. Saints safety Addul-Ouddus and Giants safety Kenny Phillips were both given a free pass from the league office for their hits on Monday night.

Abdul-Quddus'  hit was the subject of a lot of conversation because he appeared to be leading with his shoulder when he crushed Hakeen Nicks to cause an incompletion. Many wondered what a defensive back is supposed to do when the alternative is letting a receiver catch a pass that hurts his team's chances of winning.  Analyst Jon Gruden ruled against the flag for the hit in the ESPN booth, although replays showed that Addul-Quddus' helmet made contact with Nicks' helmet.

Phillips laid out Jimmy Graham a short time later. His hit generated less conversation, but drew a flag from officials. One  player that did get fined for an incident in the game, however, was Saints corner Tracy Porter, who will fork over $7,500 from dragging Nicks down after the Giants receiver was well out of bounds following a catch. He was penalized during the game as well.

New Orleans Saints held a media opportunity on Friday in which head coach Sean Payton, 

Sean Payton Media Q and A

Saints coach Sean Payton said night games " benefit us  as we go into the stretch with four of the last six games, starting last week, being played that can a big advantage for us.

Payton discussed what free safety Darren Sheppard  meant to the team, and said he's a NFL Hall of  Fame contender who visions himself as a guy who sees opportunities to lead the Tigers to another national championship.

Perhaps, the league is hoping the game against the Giants showed Monday night it was as good as it could get for Brees, and it's all downhill from there. Not a chance.
 

Opening Statement

“Let me just hit the injury and participation final report. Defensive End Turk McBride, with his ankle, did not practice. He is out. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma with his left knee was limited. He is probable. Cornerback Jabari Greer with his right knee was full. He is probable. Defensive Tackle Tom Johnson, left elbow, was full. He is probable.”

 

Does having a healthy roster make it harder to determine the inactives?

“You hit it on the head. We are getting to a pretty good stretch here, knock on wood, where most of the guys are healthy. Turk McBride is the one player, right now, with his ankle sprain,  that we are working through. He is getting close. Then it really falls on what you are thinking in regards to game plan with the opponent you are playing. What they do offensively and defensively. Having your inactives mostly being healthy is a good problem, yet it is a challenge that you look at in regards to that specific game. It’s no different this week. We will look closely. That process begins early in the week as you start to look at reps. Especially with a short week, there are only so many reps we are going to have in practice and you want to make sure that the guys that are getting them are the guys who are going to be playing.”

 

Is Turk McBride’s injury worse than you originally thought?

“No, it is a high ankle sprain. I think, ten years ago, you had an ankle sprain and some took longer than others. I think we are further along in diagnosing the differences. His is what we thought it was.”

 

With the announcement of his retirement, what did Darren Sharper mean to this team?

 

“First off, he is a Hall-of-Fame Free Safety. Each season as you put your roster together, at times you look for immediate help in a certain area. I think what Darren brought, not just to the Saints but to all of the teams that he played for, was that football awareness at the free safety position. He has real good instincts. He is a player that you would say the ball finds him. There is a reason that happens. He had a real good way of diagnosing based off of film study and his experience and where the Quarterbacks eyes might go. I think he did a really good job of playing not just red-zone defense but field defense in the nickel and breaking on the ball. For the Saints, he meant a lot to us in the 2009 season. The turnovers, the scores, leadership. It allowed us, in that season, to really work Malcolm (Jenkins) more in the nickel and some of the corner positions. I think it really helped Malcolm a lot in his transition, playing behind a guy like Darren.”

 

The top teams in the league have defenses ranked near the bottom. Did you think that it would change this dramatically?

This came up the other day. I think it is going to be important in this stretch, as we finish the season. If you go back to the Colts when they won the Super Bowl…I believe the year was 2006, our first year here. I think their numbers, statistically, weren’t very good defensively. As the season went on, towards the very end of it and in the post-season they were very impressive on that side of the ball. When you discuss a team that potentially has a chance to get in the post-season, I think it is critical that you are seeing that improvement as you get ready to play, if you have that opportunity, in the post-season. It might be a strong defense that is trying to get their offense up to speed. If and when you get into the post-season, it is not uncommon to see a team that statistically over the course of sixteen weeks hasn’t put up the numbers that we are looking for. Yet, they find a way where they are playing some of their better football. I think that will be the case when we look back at who is standing at the end. That improvement, regardless of the past stats, is critical. (It’s the) same way in special teams. We talk about our kick coverage. The big return we gave up for a touchdown against Green Bay, that is like an F on a test. Then you start factoring in all of your other grades that you are getting. It takes a lot to get back to an average score because of that one return. Ongoing improvement, as you play down the stretch, I think is critical for the chances of those teams advancing. However well we have rushed the football, we need to rush it better as the season wears on. However well we have played red-zone defense, we need to do it better as the season wears on. The same thing applies to each aspect. You hear the term, ‘they are playing some their best football’ and I think that is important.”


 If it is not just total defense, what are you looking at to see that improvement?

“Number one, if you can hurry the passer and the clock in his head. There is a good chance that will lead to some of the takeaways you are looking for. Your pursuit of the football. We have said this before. There is no guarantee that with 100% effort that turnovers are going to come. There is a certainty, if there isn’t that effort, that they are not going to come. Certainly, not as frequently as you would like them to. The ball disruptions, defensively, you can say it starts with your ability in the front whether it’s through pressure or whether it’s just a four-man rush. That can begin the process of creating more tipped balls, balls that are hurried, balls that are thrown off of the Quarterback’s clock that give you an opportunity for those plays. The turnover that we had the other day in the game defensively ended up being a big red-zone play for us. We had gone down, ran the fake field goal and didn’t make it. New York was driving and then we came up with the interception. You hope they come in bunches. When we were at our bye, with six weeks left in the season, there was a plus/minus in regards to where we were at turnover wise. One of the things we talked about is that number isn’t changing. As we get to the next six weeks, let’s find a way to be plus in the turnovers. We are plus two right now. You have to periodically take a step and regroup and see where we are at right now. (It’s the) same way with kick coverage. We can’t get that kick back, that we gave up against Green Bay, but let’s begin to look closely at moving forward here. That goes with defensive football, offensive football, and the kicking game. The example that I bring up with the Colts back in 2006, they really struggled for a large part of that season defensively. If you look, statistically, at the very end of that season and in their post-season run, they went on the run and won at Baltimore, they might have had one other road game. They played, at the most important time of the year, their best defense. They weren’t going to get whatever ranking they had back. They were willing to and recognized that this was an area they have to improve on and if we can we are going to be a tough team to beat. They were.”

 

What challenges do you have in managing all of those personnel groupings?

“It’s hard because we don’t signal. If you are a team that signals personnel, the player after any play can look and see Curtis Johnson giving a personnel (grouping) and that could mean off-and-on. The challenge for us, because we don’t signal, is that we have to talk it well. The players that are hearing it from Curtis on the sideline, that know they are in, are talking. It starts right away with Drew (Brees). When the call is given to Drew, there is a personnel and a call. Immediately, Drew is echoing the call. We have to talk it. Another thing, that Drew does a very good job with, is the gray area with eleven or twelve men in the huddle. He will stand back to make sure that he is not in that count as we are transitioning. That same thing exists defensively with the packages we carry. If we choose to, and we do, be multiple than we need to talk it and understand it so we don’t get caught with an extra player on the field or a penalty. It is something we work on. The benefit for us, offensively, is that it is not the traditional if Lance Moore enters the game then we are in Nickel. Lance (Moore) may be entering the game with (Robert) Meachem and (Marques) Colston and (Devery) Henderson are coming off and there is a fullback coming on and we are still in regular. It becomes more of a challenge, defensively, to match when you have four receivers that can play together, separate, or with three on the field with a Fullback and a Halfback. We then have to look closely at tendencies. We have to do a good job with the in-and-out, up-and-down, on-and-off and that is something, to get the tempo that we are looking for, that we have to practice. It’s not different defensively with the multiple packages we play with. It’s not an easy thing. It is something that starts in training camp and it’s something that takes a lot of work. It’s never where you have it down and you are just doing it. We have to, even in today’s practice, work that element where guys are coming in and coming off. I know the effects of it, if it is done properly, are beneficial.”

 

How critical is it to have a guy like Drew Brees who can handle all of that?

“What is critical is understanding who you have and making sure that you aren’t asking them to do things they aren’t comfortable with. Drew is very apt at the varied personnel groupings. He is very apt at getting us to the line of scrimmage and getting us to the right play. Most importantly is the protections. I have been where the center is the guy who in charge of who the Mike is. Drew is very comfortable with re-miking a defense so we don’t have to throw hot or throw a sight-adjust. In six years, I can think of one or maybe two sight adjusts. That takes a lot to do that. You have to be able to see down safety looks, recognize pressure looks. There are some players where if you go that direction there is an immediate drop-off in their performance. Now you have to look at are we really doing the right thing as coaches. With Drew, his mind races in a way that his mind doesn’t get blurry. It stays clear. He can handle that aspect of it. If you have a Quarterback that can handle that, it is a huge benefit.”

 

Did you learn that about him as you got here?

“As the process evolved, there was more and more put on his plate only because we saw he was handling it comfortably. I have been other places where have to take a little bit off the plate and allow the player to play the game and see if there is someone else that can handle more on their plate. That can vary with your team. It’s no different than a Jon Vilma. How much at the line do we want to give him when he feels like a play is being changed offensively. He has an appetite for that and has shown that he can handle that. That is not the case with every team. It can vary.”

 

Has the level of noise in the Superdome been up to your expectations?

“If I was trying to be critical, I would say it was our best on Monday Night. Night games are always easier because there is a lead-up to the game. Here we go again on Sunday night. All of us, this happens to players, you get comfortable and think you are going to be able to come out and execute. From a fan base standpoint, creating that excitement that existed in the very beginning when we started winning as opposed to now when we have won and a fan gets used to it. I think the night games benefit us more. As we are in this stretch with four of the last six games, starting last week, being played at home, that can be a big advantage for us. I would say they graded out well last weekend.”

How much do you attribute the offense’s success to the multiple packages?

“I think one of the tough things is for a defense to recognize who is coming on the field and who is coming off the field. I would say we are very multiple and that is a benefit for us. We don’t signal who is coming in for the personnel groupings for the other team to recognize who is coming on the field. We do a good job of getting guys on the field when we are throwing it and getting those same guys on the field when we are running it. Just mixing it up. It’s something they have to be prepared for.”

Is that rare, common, or would you say the Saints are more multiple in comparison with other teams?

“I think we are pretty multiple compared to some other teams. We have been here for six years. The way our terminology is, you say it and everybody knows who is on the field and who is off the field. I think our players do a good job of that. That’s a pretty smooth transition. Drew (Brees) does a really good job of relaying the information to the players that are out there. Curtis Johnson yells out from the sideline who is coming on so the players all stand there and hear him. Coming up to the week, they know that if that personnel grouping is called, they are in or they are out.”

Is there a reason you don’t signal?

“The main reason with Sean (Payton) is that it gives the defense an advantage. If they see the signal than they don’t have to worry about recognizing the eleven guys on the field. They don’t have to recognize anything other than here is him and here is him.”

If Robert Meachem is running a go route 40 yards down field, how does he know if he is staying in or coming out?

“Ok, so Meachem is running a go route. He will see Devery (Henderson) come on and say ‘hey, go ahead’. He is looking for that. They are used to doing that. If a guy runs a deep go route, the guy is going to be ready for the next play, and he is probably going to be off on the next play. Receivers have a good knack for knowing, ‘hey, I know you just ran a couple go routes and am tired, I got you.’”

How can you do so much of that and avoid twelve men in the huddle and other penalties?

“The main problem, if there was a problem, was probably from the play-callers fault, making sure that Drew gets it. If he doesn’t get the personnel, that’s on us to make sure that he gets it and the players are getting it.”

In the last game, Drew Brees was able to step back from the huddle to avoid a penalty…

“He does a really good job recognizing that. That was me getting in there a little bit late with a call and he did a great job stepping out and got the right personnel on.”

On Drew’s ability to read the defense…

“He sees everything. He is one of the best at it. Defenses, sometimes, will give us a different look than what we anticipated. He has it down. That is a strength of his.”

Is that due to Monday through Saturday work?

“He does such a great job preparing. Another thing is that he always anticipates on what if he doesn’t get a look. He always has this visualization on what he might have to adjust to. It’s easy for him to go out there and they just called this play and we are expecting this coverage, it’s going to be easy. He does a great job knowing what if it is not that coverage and his next throw.”

He deliberately stands between the huddle and the sideline, is that because of the multiple?

“Yeah. He is going to stay out until he makes sure that the right group is in the huddle. Then we get in there and go.”


 New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams 

ESPN in their coverage showed a moment in the game with you celebrating with your team.  What was going on?

“When you’re as hard on them as I am, you try to get into celebratory fashion with those guys and let them see a different side of you.  We were doing that and just having fun celebrating a big play.  We were playing very well as a team and created another short field.  I have a good relationship with the offensive players and defensive players, too.  One of the kids I have the greatest time with every day in practice is Jimmy Graham.  What a great story he is with his background.  I get way too much credit with X’s and O’s.  Hopefully one of my strengths is being around people and dealing with people. The fun part of it is going back and forth with the offense too.  Some of the questions a while ago as I’m just sitting there smiling and listening to it is Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning are the top three guys at doing what you guys were talking about doing with the looks and being able to slow their brains down and not be overloaded with information.  Most fun times we have in practice are when we do something defensively that bothers Drew.  When it happens in practice, you don’t see him look at Sean Payton or Jon Vilma.  He’s burning a stare right through me.  Just the competitiveness back and forth of what we’re trying to do and preparing each other.  Sean Payton in all the years I’ve gone against him before I got here, he’s one of the best one or two people that handle personnel packages getting on and off the field.  We’re the same way defensively.  We’re up to 40 packages now, but we only played 12 packages this past game.  Every single day the packages change.  Those guys have to get comfortable at the verbalization and the non-verbal body language.  I really do believe that if you watch the difficulty of some of the defensive staffs that go against us, there’s one particular team in our division that struggles with Sean’s packages and they burn timeouts.  It’s a distraction to the defense when you don’t know who’s on the field when they break the huddle.  If you can cause that little bit of a distraction and we can we playing something real simple but fighting to see who’s coming on the field that cause you hesitation.  I have a signal file on every single team in the league.  We have advance scouts that do that type of stuff.  The teams that don’t signal like us are the ones that challenge you the most defensively.  We get challenges the most in practice because we don’t know what they’re getting ready to do.  It helps us when we play against someone who doesn’t give signals.  It’s not a distraction to our defense.  Vilma is real good with it and Jo-Lonn Dunbar is real good with it.  Malcolm Jenkins is real good with it.  We have a coach on our sidelines that’s responsible for telling our defensive guys who they have in the huddle before they break the huddle through non-verbal communication that we’re using.  When they break the huddle, we know.  When you have certain personnel on the field, you’re expecting certain formations.  You’re expecting certain plays.  When you don’t know, and Sean and Pete do a great job with it, it causes a hesitation.  When you have a guy like (Darren) Sproles that can line up anywhere, there’s another hesitation.”

Do you think this Saints offense ranks with that 1999 Rams offense when they won the Super Bowl?

“There are a lot of similarities.  The best offensive player that I’ve been on the field coaching a defense against is Marshall Faulk.  It’s unbelievable.  In his heyday, it was unbelievable what he could do and how he went about doing it.  There are some similarities here.  Our speed in certain areas is not as good as they were.  We handle some of the other dead spots and concepts and how they create problems for the defense similar to that ‘greatest show on turf.’”

Does having Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram, and Darren Sproles now make them even more dangerous?

“As a defensive guy, you ask if you’re going to keep treating Jimmy Graham as a tight end or are we going to treat him as a wide receiver.  You have to decide on your package.  I like to say we’re going to treat Jimmy Graham as a wide receiver so we can have a defensive back matchup on him.  All of a sudden, he’s not in that wide receiver position and he’s down there blocking so they create that hesitation.  Then you’ll see Sean and Pete line him back up at a wide receiver.  They get that the matchup they want on the corner and maybe you’re light on the inside and they hammer the run with you with Pierre Thomas.”

What do you think of the Ndamukong Suh incident?

“I would’ve been there pulling him back.  He made an unfortunate mistake, but I’m not going to fault the kid.  I want him to play tough and nasty.  There are a lot of guys on that staff that I’m close to.  Here’s what I would say that’s a compliment to Jim Schwartz, we’re talking about the Detroit Lions being tough and good.  What everybody wants to talk about you Jim, all of a sudden now they’re criticizing you for being tough and good.  They haven’t won there in a long time.  Go ahead and take it with a grain of salt.  Live on the edge, play on the edge, never hurt the team.  He hurt the team.  He shouldn’t have hurt the team, but he has to play hard.  This is a fist fight in a phone booth for three and a half hours when you play linemen in this league.  He fell off the edge and shouldn’t have hurt the team.  I’d love to correct him.  I’d love to have a personality to get a chance to coach him to correct him.”

How to you handle Isa Abdul-Quddus’ hit?

“It was a good hit.  Whoever wants to say it was whatever it was, the kid is everything in the world.  We’re teasing him all of a sudden because we can’t find helmet-to-helmet contact.  That’s what you’re supposed to do.  I’m all for not hurting anybody, but it’s part of playing pass defense.  How come that quarterback made that throw?  The quarterback made a dumb throw and shouldn’t have hung his man out to dry.  I tell that to Drew all the time.  Don’t hang your man out to dry.  We’ve been teasing Isa that if he made helmet-to-helmet contact, maybe he has a bobblehead and he has too big of a helmet on.  That’s what you want him to do.  We coach the strike zone and where it’s supposed to be.  Isa honestly thought he was in that zone and when I’m slowing the film down, I can’t tell him differently.  It just is what it is.  I feel for the officials when they have to make that call because they’re doing their job too.  It’s unfortunate, but again the quarterback made a bad choice.  He shouldn’t have thrown the ball there.”

 Former Saints defensive tackle Derland Moore will appear at the Saints Hall of Fame from 5-6:30 p.m. in the stadium to sign autographs, and author Alan Donnes will sign copies of his book "Patron Saints" from 6-7 p.m. at the Saints Team Shop.

New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael 

How much do you attribute the offense’s success to the multiple packages?

“I think one of the tough things is for a defense to recognize who is coming on the field and who is coming off the field. I would say we are very multiple and that is a benefit for us. We don’t signal who is coming in for the personnel groupings for the other team to recognize who is coming on the field. We do a good job of getting guys on the field when we are throwing it and getting those same guys on the field when we are running it. Just mixing it up. It’s something they have to be prepared for.”

Is that rare, common, or would you say the Saints are more multiple in comparison with other teams?

“I think we are pretty multiple compared to some other teams. We have been here for six years. The way our terminology is, you say it and everybody knows who is on the field and who is off the field. I think our players do a good job of that. That’s a pretty smooth transition. Drew (Brees) does a really good job of relaying the information to the players that are out there. Curtis Johnson yells out from the sideline who is coming on so the players all stand there and hear him. Coming up to the week, they know that if that personnel grouping is called, they are in or they are out.”

Is there a reason you don’t signal?

“The main reason with Sean (Payton) is that it gives the defense an advantage. If they see the signal than they don’t have to worry about recognizing the eleven guys on the field. They don’t have to recognize anything other than here is him and here is him.”

If Robert Meachem is running a go route 40 yards down field, how does he know if he is staying in or coming out?

“Ok, so Meachem is running a go route. He will see Devery (Henderson) come on and say ‘hey, go ahead’. He is looking for that. They are used to doing that. If a guy runs a deep go route, the guy is going to be ready for the next play, and he is probably going to be off on the next play. Receivers have a good knack for knowing, ‘hey, I know you just ran a couple go routes and am tired, I got you.’”

How can you do so much of that and avoid twelve men in the huddle and other penalties?

“The main problem, if there was a problem, was probably from the play-callers fault, making sure that Drew gets it. If he doesn’t get the personnel, that’s on us to make sure that he gets it and the players are getting it.”

In the last game, Drew Brees was able to step back from the huddle to avoid a penalty…

“He does a really good job recognizing that. That was me getting in there a little bit late with a call and he did a great job stepping out and got the right personnel on.”

On Drew’s ability to read the defense…

“He sees everything. He is one of the best at it. Defenses, sometimes, will give us a different look than what we anticipated. He has it down. That is a strength of his.”

Is that due to Monday through Saturday work?

“He does such a great job preparing. Another thing is that he always anticipates on what if he doesn’t get a look. He always has this visualization on what he might have to adjust to. It’s easy for him to go out there and they just called this play and we are expecting this coverage, it’s going to be easy. He does a great job knowing what if it is not that coverage and his next throw.”

He deliberately stands between the huddle and the sideline, is that because of the multiple?

“Yeah. He is going to stay out until he makes sure that the right group is in the huddle. Then we get in there and go.”


  SAINTS CONTRIBUTE MORE THAN $1.1 MILLION FOR GULF COAST RELIEF

New Orleans - On April 20, 2010, a catastrophic oil spill occurred off the Louisiana coast at the Deepwater Horizon. Shortly thereafter, the New Orleans Saints’ organization amassed and visited a coastal town to help uplift the spirits of community members directly affected with a pep rally.

As a direct response to the crisis, the Saints’ organization, under the direction of Saints owner Tom Benson, formed a fundraising initiative entitled the “Saints’ Gulf Coast Relief Fund.”

The Saints, who just a few months prior to the oil spill, captured Super Bowl XLIV with a 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Moving rapidly, the Saints’ offered the unprecedented opportunity for members of the national and international community to purchase raffles tickets for a chance to win a customized championship Super Bowl ring identical to the ones that were presented to the players, coaches and administrative officials.

The ring raffled winner, selected in a random draw, was announced in front of an ESPN nationally televised audience when the Saints played at San Francisco on September 20, 2010. The winner was Christopher S. Lynn, a resident of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

As a direct result of the Saints’ efforts, $1,190,500.00 dollars were raised for those directly affected by the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. Today marked the final day that each dollar of the nearly $1.2 million dollars raised was distributed.

Today, the Saints’ organization distributed the final check totaling $20,000 to the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans for distribution to worthwhile causes. Among the charities that received monies raised were: Greater New Orleans Foundation, the aforementioned Catholic Charities Archdiocese, The Audubon Nature Institute, Bay Area Food Bank, The Brees Dream Foundation and Payton’s Play It Forward Foundation. All of these groups in-turn used these funds to directly affect the well-being of numerous local and statewide charities. The total contributions were distributed over the course of the past 14 months.

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  

 

Website: www.louisianasportstalk.com

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