According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, there are two NFL cities "I don't go out to eat or don't do anything. It's Detroit and New Orleans." Allen made these comments on his weekly radio show.
"New Orleans looks like I'm driving though a third world country. Everytime I get out of the plane, I'm like 'Oh, crap, I can't carry my gun here. This sucks"
The Vikings play the Saints on Sunday in the Metrodome so Allen won't suffer the wrath of the Who Dat Nation at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. There aren't many people who are going to support his comments considering what the city has been through.
Allen, who is one of the sack leaders every season which why he earns $17 million a year, apologized on Wednesday for making his comments.
"If anyone was offended, I apologize," said Allen who was drafted out of Idaho State.
"What I said was directed at the cities' physical appearance and not the residents.
In a press session (below) on Wednesday, Brees said ““I know Jared Allen. I know his personality. He’s a goofy dude. He’ll say a lot of things. There’s a lot of stuff you don’t take seriously. I know he was kind of going on a rant talking about Detroit and New Orleans. That doesn’t bother me, because I know him. I know his personality. It’s no big deal.”
Do you see Marques Colston as the leader of the wide receivers unit and how have you seen him progress?
“Marques is a quiet guy. I’d say a lot of the receivers have a similar personality. They’re all extremely hard workers, they’re all unselfish players, but they’re all super-competitive guys deep down. That fire certainly burns in all of them. Lance Moore is probably the most animated out of all of them with some of the antics after first downs and touchdown dances and all that stuff which we all love. I’d say as a group, especially the fact that they’ve all been together as a group in their fifth year, and (Robert) Meachem was added in ’07 so the other three have been together for six year, so they’ve been together for a long time. They all push and motivate each other. Even if it’s quietly, I know there are plenty of times where they’re banged up but you would never know it because they show up to practice each day with the same level of intensity and speed and quality reps. Those guys just don’t take a day off. I know there are times when those guys deserve a day off and probably should get one, but they won’t let themselves do it because they know deep down that means more reps for another guy, so I think a little bit of the unselfishness comes out during the week as well.”
What can you pinpoint to where this team is consistently winning year-in and year-out?
“That’s progress. You have to learn how to handle prosperity and learn how to be successful and sustain that successful level. 2006 was an unbelievable year, an extremely special year and yet the expectations going into ’07 were so great coming off of the NFC Championship game, not to say that we didn’t know how to handle it but none of us had ever been in that position before. We were all new. We were all kind of beginners, so I think it took some of the growing pains of 2007 and 2008 for us to be strengthened and harden ourselves a little bit and also gain some of that wisdom and experience that it takes to sustain a successful franchise organization for a period of time. You kind of watch around the league the teams that are able to do it and the teams that you really consider the model. You can say the Colts have been that, the Patriots have been that, the Steelers, all of these teams that year-in and year-out you know what to expect. You know they’re a serious contender. We want to be considered one of those teams that year-in and year-out is somebody to deal with, somebody that’s a contender, and somebody that knows how to win, somebody that knows how to handle adversity and all the things that come along in a season.”
Do you consider this game a trap game like against St. Louis?
“Obviously, we remember what happened in St. Louis, but at this point in the season there can’t be any trap games. There can’t be anybody that even remotely sneaks up on you because you weren’t taking them seriously. That’s not ever our mentality. Obviously, we’ve had a few games over the last few years that we just want to forget, but unfortunately it’s the truth and that is each week you have to bring your best performance and put your best foot forward. We’re playing for a lot. We’ve clinched a playoff spot, but that’s nowhere near our ultimate goal. We have plenty of dominoes to knock over as we go along here. The next one is being a division winner. That’s kind of the next step and we have to continue to win if we want that to happen especially against NFC opponents and especially on the road.”
How different is this Vikings defense than the one you faced last year?
“Obviously that was a lot of games ago. That’s 30 games ago, but they’re pretty similar as far as their front seven. I’d say it’s pretty much all new faces in the secondary from what we played. I think just when you look at them statistically, there are some things that stick out in just half of the last ten years and that’s that they can rush the passer and they can stop the run. Those are things that they’ve been very successful at. Obviously, I know this hasn’t been the season they hoped for record-wise, but I can tell you that in eight of their losses they’ve lost by seven points or less. They’ve been in games where they’ve been up by a lot and they’ve just lost it at the end. A lot of these games have been closer than maybe what their record shows. We still know what they’re capable of especially playing at their place. That’s an extremely tough place to play. I know that obviously they’re trying to salvage what’s left of their season. We expect their best performance. They have some playmakers on both sides of the ball that we have to handle and obviously we want to continue to get better.”
Have you reached the level of the Colts, Patriots, and Steelers?
“That’s not for us to judge right now. If you look at what we’ve been able to accomplish here over a six year span, I think it’s on track with the type of team and organization that we want to be. I can definitely say that we’ve brought in the right type of people. That goes back to when Mr. Benson and Mickey Loomis hired Sean Payton. The culture and environment that he’s helped to create, and the types of coaches that he’s brought in as well as players, there’s not a bad guy on this team. There’s not a selfish guy on this team. Every guy on this team I can honestly say is a team guy. Everyone understands their role and is here because of their character and their leadership ability and their productivity. We all kind of fit into this equation here. That’s priority number one. I guess only time will tell if we can be considered one of those elite teams that every year you know what you’re going to get.”
How much more are you driven by a Super Bowl or bust mentality rather than thinking about what it is like to build something and reflect?
“I can say that in our hearts, just making it to the playoffs isn’t good enough. That might be where it stops for some teams, but for us, it’s all about the expectation level that we’ve created in the last few years, definitely in winning a Super Bowl. It maybe changes your outlook a little bit. Before that you could only dream about it and hope for it. Once you do taste it, there’s nothing like it. Anything short of it is a disappointment. That’s a good thing. It certainly keeps you motivated and aspiring for greater and greater things.”
While your defense has given up a lot of yards this season, they’ve made the one or two plays they’ve had to make over the past month in games. What do you think of that?
“I’m very confident in that group. There are times where a lot of those yards are coming at the end of games where people are playing catch up and teams are in two-minute mode for a full quarter trying to come back. Those numbers can definitely be deceiving. Definitely when you look at the stops that they made against Atlanta in that overtime win at Atlanta and on the road again this week against Tennessee, just stepping up when we need it most. I look at obviously my role in that thing. Offensively we had some changes in the four minute mode in both those games where we could have closed those games out. Gotten a first down or two, run out the clock, don’t even let that happen. At times it’s going to happen and the defense is going to have to go out and make a play, just like at times, the offense is going to have to drive down and make a play,. I know their mentality is you put them in whatever situation and they get it done and they’ll take care of it.”
What do you think of Jared Allen’s comments about New Orleans?
“I know Jared Allen. I know his personality. He’s a goofy dude. He’ll say a lot of things. There’s a lot of stuff you don’t take seriously. I know he was kind of going on a rant talking about Detroit and New Orleans. That doesn’t bother me, because I know him. I know his personality. It’s no big deal.”
What do you think of Tim Tebow mania? Have you watched him play at all?
“I really haven’t had a chance to watch him a lot. I watched his game against Minnesota, because they played them a few weeks back, but other than that we really haven’t had similar opponents. There haven’t been a lot of games to watch. I met him one time. I met him at the ESPY’s two years ago. I really didn’t spend any time other than just a greeting. It’s impressive to see how they’ve won games over the last seven weeks. It’s been pretty remarkable. You can’t question that guy’s toughness, heart, grit, desire and all those things. He stands for a lot of great things. If you’re a kid out there looking for someone to look up to. I’d be looking up to Tim Tebow.”
There is a lot of criticism of his mechanics, but can you appreciate what he’s doing?
“Yes, it’s hard to win in this league and they’re finding ways to do it. You can say all you want about the statistics in the first three quarters, but the fact of the matter is when they need a play, it’s down to the wire, he’s making them. All of us, especially early in our careers, he’s still a very young player. He still has a lot to learn. There’s a big learning curve, especially for a quarterback coming into this league, putting that type of responsibility on his shoulders, but he’s a winner. You can’t argue that.”
Is there a jolt of electricity around you guys when the 49ers lost, even though you’re concentrating on yourselves?
“Yes, because that affects us and really all we can worry about is us. As long as we take care of our business and all of a sudden something happens where we’re a two seed and have a first round bye, all that’s good stuff, but priority number one is to take care of our business.”
After the St. Louis game, was there a priority to limit turnovers?
“Yes, we look at that St. Louis game and say our three turnovers, two interceptions and the blocked punt which was in essence a turnover resulted in 21 points of them. You just sit there and go that’s what gets you beat. That’s not our style. We know better than that. That was disappointing. It was embarrassing for us to lose the way we did. Yes, you always make an emphasis of it. Unfortunately it’s only times when it happens and something bad happens as a result, it finally hits you upside the head and you say we have to cut this out. We have a good stretch going here and hopefully we can keep it going. Statistics show that when we don’t turn the ball over, we are hard to beat.”
What does it do when you put some points on the board whether it’s a field goal or touchdown right before halftime?
“I think it’s very significant. It creates a big momentum shift in a game when you can obviously take a ball especially, 80 yards, 90 yards and get a touchdown. You essentially steal a possession, because you go into halftime, the clock runs out, you have the points and they didn’t even have a chance. Those are all big things. Hopefully we’ll continue to get the opportunities to do that.”
Also, on Wednesday, New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton engaged in a media availability and discussed the injury situation for the Minnesota Vikings game:
“Running back Mark Ingram (right toe), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (right knee), and linebacker Jon Vilma (left knee). We limited defensive end Turk McBride (ankle), so he got some work. The rest of these four players were all full: defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (hamstring) was full, cornerback Tracy Porter (wrist) was full, tight end Jimmy Graham (back) was full, and linebacker Scott Shanle (left shoulder) was full. Practice squad -- we signed wide receiver Andy Tanner and released quarterback Sean Canfield.”
Are you expecting to see Christian Ponder play this weekend?
“I think we have to prepare for both (quarterbacks) and make sure we’re ready for both and study certainly their differences because this would be a week where there would be a difference between the two players. Our plan would be to prepare for both.”
How key is it to stopping Adrian Peterson?
“I think it’s very important. He’s as talented a player I think at running back as there is in the league. We saw a very good player (Chris Johnson) last week, but Adrian is one of those players with great explosiveness through the hole. He has very good vision, balance, and he runs with a real good pad level. I think you have to begin your game plan with that in mind. He’s that good of a player.”
How difficult is it to slow down Percy Harvin with all the things he can do?
“He lines up in a lot of different spots. For the last two years we’ve played these guys and have seen him first hand, he’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, he’s a strong runner after the catch, he has real good balance and I think recognizing formationally where he’s at and if there are any tendencies really doing a good job with the film study and understanding the type of player he is. Some of our guys have played against him, but when you get him on a fast track like we’ve seen here, but certainly at home he’s one of those guys that can make a difference on any given play.”
Comparing the Vikings and the Rams, are there several similarities going into this game with Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson and the road atmosphere?
“I think it’s a team that we’re familiar with having played them twice now recently. It’s a team that is very talented although their record hasn’t turned out the way they liked. Clearly you can see their play-making ability on offense. You can see their defense can rush the passer. They’re one of the top five teams in regards to pressure and sacks in our league. There’s a lot that we’re playing for so we’re going to have to play a real good football game on the road. This is one of the tougher places to play on the road historically. It’s very loud and can be difficult, especially on third down and especially against their pass rush.”
Is it easier playing games in December when you’re winning games and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and keep your foot pressed on the pedal?
“I think that it probably would start with the team. You hope that clearly with where we’re at with three games left and so much at stake that, I thought we had a good response last week going on the road and, although it was a tough hard-fought game, I thought we handled some of the adversity pretty well in the game and that’s a good sign. But in December these games, every one of them, are very important. The most important one right now for us is this one and it’s the only one we can play. There’s a lot that can happen here in the next three weeks, and I think our job is to recognize that, communicate it, and make sure everyone understands that.”
Following the Rams game, your team hasn’t committed a turnover in four consecutive games. How hard did you get on them following that game?
“Just pointing out what wins and loses, and just understanding the importance of turnovers and getting takeaways and protecting the football, some of that starts with being real mindful of the protection for Drew (Brees). Some of it is ball security with the individual players that have it. It’s kind of falls on everyone. That same thing goes for special teams and your defense. It was one point after the bye that we felt like we had to be better at to winning games, and up to this point fortunately it’s been better. I think our players understand and all of us understand how it translates into wins and losses, and then specifically how we practice it and how we really never get tired of making an emphasis of it. I think that’s something each week that’s a challenge for us and every week when we put up the goals Saturday night at the hotel, that’s one of them. Other might vary, but winning the turnover battle is kind of a staple.”
Can you talk about how good the defense has been on third and fourth downs?
“We’ve done really well on the third downs. Last week, that had a lot to do with us winning that game. Like I said earlier, what we’re most interested now at this point in the season is that improvement and that red zone efficiency both defensively and offensively and improving in the takeaway areas and the pressure report that we do each week in regards to how many hurries and how many sacks – all of those things can lead to better defense. Certainly our role offensively in regards to doing a good job on third down, controlling the time of possession, running the football, those play hand-in-hand roles to your defensive numbers. We hope to be playing our best football here in this month beginning in November into December and it’s a reason we’re out there today, just working on becoming better in those areas, but I think specifically on third down we’ve done a lot of good things. We’ve been able to get pressure on the quarterback. We’ve been able to get off the field. When you have a game such as a week ago when you hold an opponent to one third-down conversion and then conversely your close to 60 percent, that really improves and enhances your chances of winning a game.”
How has the run defense gotten so much better since facing Steven Jackson?
“I thought we tackled real well last week. I thought we fit the gaps real well. We’ve had a few games now where we’ve played a real good running team: Atlanta a few weeks back, Tampa Bay, and certainly Tennessee would be one of those teams. Those are positive signs. We’re going to play another one this week with Minnesota. I think our players have responded well to the plan and understand or have a clear understanding of the job that week as it pertains to the running back we’re playing and the type of runner he is. There are some differences with Adrian Peterson from (Chris Johnson) from a week ago. We’ll have to handle that element of the game. That’ll be an important element.”
Do you counteract the pressure Minnesota gets on the quarterback with rolling Drew Brees out a little more?
“I think we always try to look at each game plan with a certain number of throws outside of the pocket so the launch point isn’t consistent. An example would be that there are certain throws that come out on three-step rhythm, certain throws that will be off of nakeds or movements, certain throws that will be sprint-outs so that it’s not one stationary target. Guys like Jared Allen are too good and too difficult especially when they’re playing at home with the noise, so we have to bee really mindful of mixing up the location of where Drew is throwing from, mixing up how we’re protecting him and understand the challenges that third downs or passing downs present on the road. It makes it that much more important that first and second down you’re operating ahead of the chains and you’re operating efficiently so that you’re not getting into those third and longs where you become a little bit more one-dimensional.”
Is this a week where you’re hoping that Mark Ingram turns the corner a little bit?
“I think he’s making progress. Typically, what we’ll do is we’ll evaluate it day-to-day and if we feel like the player’s ready to play without any chance of setback then we’ll clear him and go. He wasn’t today, but all of us feel like he’s made progress and he’s getting better. We’ll see as this week goes on. Today is Wednesday, so we still have a lot of time left. If he’s not able to go, we understand our plan and Chris (Ivory) has gotten a lot of good reps. I thought he played well last week, particularly in the short yardage situations. Fortunately, we have that depth right now and we’ve got players that are able to fill in. A guy like Chris is someone that we don’t even see as a backup type player. We see him as a guy that’s a starter for us, and I think that’s a good position to be in especially with Mark’s injury.”
Do you still feel like you ran the ball well against Tennessee after looking at the tape?
“Some of the penalties hurt us. Those really end up being drive killers. I thought our efficiency was good. I still value it as an important element to us winning as we finish up the season and head into the postseason. That balance I think gets back to protecting the quarterback. There’s kind of an effect that takes places when you’re able to rush the ball with efficiency and then protect the passer, and typically if you’re not having that efficiency in the running game or you’re struggling there, it becomes that much harder to protect and you become a little bit more one-dimensional.”
How do you coach away those penalties?
“I think you try to evaluate each one. There were a handful from the game last week that I said I thought they were close, and then there were ones where the player is doing exactly what we’re asking him to do. I think also we spend a lot of time on the crew we’re seeing and really going through the crew’s history and what we think their emphasis is – is it a crew that calls a lot of penalties each year or is it a crew that doesn’t – that’s important information. It is a factor in the game and it is important that we recognize that in tough games and in close games that it can become the difference. Again, it’s something that we have to clean up.”
Has that crew from last week had a history of throwing a lot of flags?
“They’ve been one of the top five crews a year ago and then heading into this year. That’s something we’ll do every Friday with our reports. We’ll go through the crew, we’ll go through the points of emphasis, their history a year ago, their history this year and at least try to educate ourselves as to what we can expect.”
Has Jimmy Graham recovered pretty quickly from the back spasms?
“Yes, he’s doing well. That was encouraging.”
Did you get any clarification from the league office on the Jimmy Graham catch in the end zone that was ruled incomplete?
“Technically, if a player just landed with his heel and then landed in the end zone and it was in bounds, then it would be a touchdown. If a player in one act went from heel-to-toe, which to their point it looked like he did, they couldn’t just tell if that toe clipped the white or not. He saw the heel, and he saw the heel in, and if it’s heel-to-toe a lot of the time that how we land with a foot so the key is then where the toe is. I think that was his point that he wouldn’t tell whether the toe hit white or not.”
Is the topic of “what is a catch in the end zone” something you’d like to see changed?
“It was an area we looked closely at in the league meetings this past offseason. I don’t know that it would be the first thing that would come to my mind. I think the hits on the quarterback is the one area that is most difficult right now, to find that consistency or find that specific play, and that happens in the course of the game maybe seven or eight times on each side of the ball. That’s the one thing that for me would be more pressing.”
What the key to Jared Allen’s pass rushing?
“He has real good speed and good instincts, so is get off especially when he’s playing in Minnesota is exceptional. He’s relentless. He’s a tireless worker. Guys that work as hard as he does from the start of the play to the whistle find results, so that motor of his and his skill set. He’s very talented.”
Did you talk to Roman Harper about penalties after the Tennessee game?
“There will be times where we’ll pull a player aside, and in Roman’s case he has a pretty good idea of what we’re looking for. I think he played an exceptional game the other day. Both he and Malcolm (Jenkins) were guys that were game ball players for us on defense. It’s just making sure the players understand the importance of that element of the game and how that can really change momentum, but not after this past game I didn’t.”
Robert Meachem and Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans on Thursday will team with a number of corporate sponsors to make Christmas 2011 special for deserving kids and their parents. Saints teammates Jimmy Graham, Chris Ivory, Adrian Arrington, Joe Morgan, Martez Wilson and the Saintsations will distribute toys including a special Christmas performance by Kevin Stylez. Entergy of New Orleans S, Macy's, LePavillon Hotel, Academy Sports and All-State Insurance are major contributors for this annual affair which helps 500 families. "The Saints Christmas Affair" will be held at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Family Life center at 2515 Franklin Avenue from 6:15 to 8:15 p.m. Meachem said unwrapped gifts are welcome.
by Ed Staton