COACH SEAN McDERMOTT
Opening Statement: Alright, good morning. You guys are always so [talkative] in the morning. It’s good. Okay, go ahead and fire away.
Q: Well, where does it stand with Zay Jones?
A: Zay is, he’s not going to practice today but he’s day-to-day at this point.
Q: Did they have a [measure] of the damage, or what did they tell you about it?
A: With Zay?
A: Yeah, it’s just a day-to-day type of situation and obviously, with the knee, and so we’ll just continue to progress. He’s made some progress already and we’re moving in the right direction.
Q: With Kelvin [Benjamin], is he at the point now where he can get in there and contribute and be viable in practice this week?
A: Right. We’ll see today. We’re going to go on the practice field and he put in a lot of work over the last couple of days with our receivers coach and so we’ll see how he’s progressed in terms of his grasp of the offense to this point.
Q: Did you happen to see Cam [Newton] still kind of deflated about not having Kelvin anymore? He made a comment yesterday like, ‘man that’s a great player we don’t have anymore.’
A: No, I didn’t see that. I mean, I tried to watch a couple games but I was mostly being a dad yesterday for the most part, but there were some good games yesterday.
Q: Where do things stand with Charles Clay and E.J. Gaines?
A: You had a hard time saying that without smiling there. They’re also listed as day-to-day. Both are progressing as well and we’re hopeful they can make it for this weekend.
Q: Are they going to practice today?
A: You know, I believe that we’re going to hold both of them at this point, just because we do have the extra day at this point.
Q: The Saints are, right now, looking pretty dynamic [winning] six in a row and doing a little bit of everything really well. Might be the best team you’ve seen all year, Sean. Any thoughts on what you saw, so far, from them on tape?
A: Well, you know, the thing, to your point, they are playing extremely well in all three phases. I mean, they’re aggressive in all three phases. They had the fake or the gadget yesterday on special teams. They’ve always been aggressive offensively. Probably the biggest improvement I’ve seen from their team, just having faced them over the years in the NFC South, is the defense and what they’ve been able to do. Going from, I think it was, 28.4 points per game down to 19 in just a year’s time, so a tremendous improvement on that side.
Q: What about with Drew Brees? Obviously you have a history coaching against him. I think we talked about Matt Ryan before. How does that help [and] how does that hurt in some cases?
A: Right. I mean, both quarterbacks you just mentioned are elite quarterbacks. Hall of Fame type quarterbacks, and Drew, I don’t think he’s a guy you can stop. I just think he’s a guy that you hope that you’re able to manage what he does. The offense really goes through Drew. [I have a] tremendous amount of respect [for Brees]; I’ve been around him a little bit at the Pro Bowl over the years and how he does he job, how he approaches really his job, being able to watch him practice, just the habits. Sean Payton, probably one of the best if not the best offensive coach in the game. He just does a great job with isolations, matchups, tempo, a lot of good things offensively in terms of what they do and the personnel that they have.
Q: I know it wasn’t the first game that you played without Marcell [Dareus], but what the Jets were able to do in running the ball, do you fear it may have exposed something in that front line or is it just one of those one-off things that you can, it’s just a short week and things like that?
A: Well, we need to play better fundamentally. That’s probably the biggest thing, really, is making sure we’re gap-sound, making sure we play with great hands, which really speaks to run defense. But the game is played, defensively, with your hands and [on] special teams, and whether you’re tackling, getting off blocks, whatever it is, we’ve got to play with more hand violence and that goes back to fundamentals so that’s really where it starts.
Q: Along those same lines with Adolphus [Washington] being the guy right now that’s taken Marcell’s spot, at least in the starting lineup, he seemed to have a decent first week. Nobody had a good week last week. Where is he at in terms of filling that role right now next to Kyle [Williams]?
A: You’re saying who?
A: You know, Adolphus has gotten better. We’re improving in that area, and you just got to remember he’s coming off of a year last year where he was a rookie. Now he’s into his second year and I’ve seen the arrow moving in the right direction at this point. He’s practiced well and that’s carried over to some of his game reps as well. We’re moving in the right direction there.
Q: You mentioned how the Saints, defensively, have improved a lot in points per game. Is there something specifically that you see that they’re doing better that has led to that?
A: Well, their personnel has certainly improved. I would start there, and then they’re more consistent overall. They’ve been together now three, give or take, three years under the new coordinator there. He does a good job. They’re playing fast, all that. I know A.J. Klein is their middle linebacker. I know A.J. from Carolina. He’s a good football player. I’m partial there too because I was with him [and] we drafted him in Carolina. A lot goes through that middle linebacker position and A.J. does a good job.
Q: How do you perceive and vision, and how eager are you to see Kelvin [Benjamin] on the field practicing with this team and what can he do to add a different dimension to this offense?
A: Well, I’ll start off: a team is never made up of just one guy, so let’s get over that. Let’s get past that. He will integrate into what we’re doing and add to what we’re doing. We’ve got good players already in this building and we were able to add another good player with Kelvin so I expect him to embed into what we’re doing and work on being A. a good teammate and B. learning the system. I look forward to seeing how we’re going to use him. Rick [Dennison] is going to implore him into the offense in terms of matchups and all those things that go into it. For right now, we’re about to take the field in less than an hour here and see how well he’s been able to pick up some of the offense to this point and then go from there, really.
Q: Was it encouraging to you, the fact that he stayed over the weekend to catch up on what the offense is? What did that show you?
A: Well, it showed me his commitment. He moved up here in a very short amount of time and I offered him the chance to go home and get some clothes and get organized and he said, ‘no, coach, I want to stay and get this offense down as best I can in a short amount of time here.’ That showed me he’s committed to the cause at this point.
Q: Does [Benjamin] just kind of have to go game plan specific the next couple of weeks here before he can really get big into the volume of the scheme?
A: Right. I mean, there [are] concepts that he will learn by each game plan but to your point, Chris, yeah. He’s just going to have to go on a game-to-game game plan approach at this point. That’s what you do when you kind of come in halfway through the season.
Q: Having seen him all those years in Carolina, physically though, what kind of presence is he out there and a matchup nightmare, potentially, for opposing defenses?
A: Well, he’s tough because you have a thread outside that, if you want to go one-on-one out there, that’s on you, and then that opens up the run game. It’s a nice little dynamic there and then you look at what we already have with the run game and the tight end now with Charles [Clay] potentially coming back and Tyrod [Taylor] and the other receivers. Now, you’ve got some things that you’ve got that a defense must contend with. That said, it’s about, and you’ve heard me say, it’s about what we do. There’s got to be fundamentals. You can’t just show up. You’ve got to play with great effort, great fundamentals, great intensity and you’ve got to work together as a team so that part doesn’t change, like I said before. It’s one player. One player does not make a team. It’s eleven guys, all of us doing our job the right way.
Q: In terms of snaps, who do you see [Benjamin] taking snaps from between Zay [Jones] and Jordan [Matthews] and Andre Holmes as well?
A: Well, we’ll just see. We’ll see how well Kelvin picks up the system at this point.
Q: Sean, is it fair to say that he is a receiver that makes the entire group better?
A: Well, I think he’s a receiver that makes our offense better and I have confidence, like I’ve said before, in the group of receivers before we brought in Kelvin. Now, I see the group improving because Kelvin. I mean, he’s a good football player. I see the offense going in that direction.
Q: Is there a trickle-down effect though? You know what I mean? He’s going to make the other guys, individually, even better? Maybe create a little more space for other guys?
A: Well, you would hope so. That said, I think that with the guys that we have in the room, it works both ways, really. Kelvin makes them better and they make Kelvin better. We’ve got a couple pro’s pros when you look at Jordan Matthews, Andre Holmes, Brandon Tate. They have their effect on Kelvin and Kelvin has his effect on them so, to me, it’s a nice dynamic there in the room and on the field.
Q: Sean, was this game easy to put behind you because it was just not a good performance? Or was it harder to put it behind you, given that it was a performance of what it was?
A: Well really, the way you look at it, the way I’ve been around the NFL and I really learned this from Andy Reid, you take it, you learn from it, and then you have to move on. There were quite a few years in Philadelphia where we had a loss like this over the years and you don’t want to overreact to it but you’ve got to learn from it. You’ve got to be direct and learn from it and then you have to move on because the NFL, as you see every week, as we saw this weekend when we had a chance to watch games, and then college the same way. You’ve got to be able to move on, get back into the process of preparing for the next opponent and then come out and have your best foot forward every week in this league. That’s really how you sustain success, and you’re going to go through some of these, as you’ve heard me say, highs and lows. You’ve got to stay together and stay confident at the same time, but you’ve got to keep learning all the way through.
Q: Sean, what was the mood of the guys when you got into the building this morning after a [weekend] to kind of let that loss linger?
A: We don’t let anything linger. Like I said, we learn from it and we move forward. I think they’re energized. They got a little bit of rest over the weekend and again, they know that, to go 16-0, that’s a great accomplishment. We’re not able to do that, but everything right now is in front of us. We’ve just got to focus one game at a time. Got a big-time challenge this weekend with a well-balanced team and a dynamic offense and an improving defense, and a very capable special teams unit; one of the best coaches in the NFL coming in here as well. We’ve got to make sure that we are improving, learning, growing every step of the way. We’re building towards what we’re trying to become around here and that takes a daily effort, daily focus and preparation.
Q: How would you compare the role that Travaris Cadet will have compared to what Taiwan Jones did for you, not only on special teams but on offense as well?
A: Well, they’re a little bit different. Different skill set but similar in a lot of ways, too. Travaris’s skill set is multidimensional. He can run the ball, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can line up as a wide receiver, he can do different things. He can play special teams, so similar [to Jones] in that regard. That said, they’re slightly different in terms of the skill set as well but there is a multidimensional facet to his game.
Q: Will LeSean McCoy practice this week or practice today? Is he okay after he got some of the time there on Thursday?
Q: How did Ramon Humber come through the game dealing with his injuries? He came out a couple of times.
A: Right. You know, Ramon, he did come out. He wanted to stay in. Overall, no major setback. The part I loved about it was, when you look at Ramon, Jordan Poyer was out there. They were coming off of being dinged up a little bit. They pretty much made it through the game and they wanted to be out there. Then you watch Zay [Jones] battle through his injury to stay out there. That says a lot about the players and the people in that locker room.
Q: Coach, just with respect to first quarter scoring, can you just put your finger on what has made putting points on the board early in games so tough?
A: Yeah, just getting into a rhythm. Getting into a rhythm and sometimes it’s what the defense has done. Sometimes it’s really what we’ve done to ourselves and we just got to get into a rhythm a little bit sooner in the game and then after half as well, I would say too. Something I know Rick [Dennison] and his staff have looked at, just areas that we can improve among others.
Q: As a coach, how do you make sure that your guys put too much pressure on them? At the beginning of the season, it seemed like you’re almost playing with house money. Everybody’s betting against you and they get to play that underdog role. Now, in the second half, like you said, you have everything in front of you. The playoffs are right there. How do you make sure, mentally, they don’t change how they approach things on a day-to-day basis?
A: Right, yeah. That’s a good question. I think just do your job. Just do your job. Let me handle the other stuff and kind of the noise that goes on. We need to focus on ourselves and taking one at a time and continue to grow. That ties in that growth mindset that we’ve talked about before; you’ve heard me talk about in here, is just do what you can do. That’s doing your job. All that other stuff is for you guys to talk about and everything. I still believe that there [are] still a lot of people that count us out and that’s fine. I mean, we’re here to get better [and] to build on what we did and didn’t do in the first half of the season.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR LESLIE FRAZIER
Opening Statement: Good to be back. Getting ready for our next opponent, the New Orleans Saints, a very good football team. [They’re] really hot, explosive offense with a lot of weapons. Looking forward to getting to work today and really working towards having a good Sunday at home in front of our fans, which is important to our players.
Q: Where is Adolphus Washington at in his development now? He’s gotten the start the last two games. What’re you seeing from him, is he holding up?
A: He’s improving, he’s a young player. He’s gotten a couple starts as you mentioned, and [in] each one of those starts we’ve seen him get a little bit better, on each occasion. We’re going to need that to continue throughout the season. He’ll be a big part of the reason we’re able to play a good defense, if our nose tackle can really hold it down on the inside. We need him to really come along, both in the run game, as well as giving us some type of inside pass-rush as well. From what we’ve seen, he’s more than capable of getting it done.
Q: The defense has struggled to put pressure on the quarterback, especially recently, is that starting to become a concern of yours?
A: Well in our league, you have to be able to affect the quarterback, sometimes with your four-man rush or with a blitz package as well. We have to find ways to affect the quarterback, and that also means some of the things we do on the back end with our looks and disguises. You want to be able to pressure [him] at times. There are many different ways to get that done. We have to find a way against a very good quarterback this week, to not let him get confident in the pocket.
Q: Well that leads me to my next question, how important is it to get pressure on a quarterback like Drew Brees, because you would think that if he has time to sit back there, it’s going to be a long day?
A: I think most teams come into it with the idea of being able to get pressure on him, but going into yesterday’s game, [there’s] only been like seven sacks. They were leading the league in fewest sacks allowed. It’s a plan, but he gets the ball out so fast, that you may not necessarily sack him. You have to find ways to at least pressure him. It’s going to be important, he’s a future Hall of Fame quarterback. You really don’t want it to be seven on seven for him.
Q: So far the formula to win, has been to create turnovers. There is some luck involved in that too, as we saw on Thursday night with the dropped interception. How much can a team and a defense rely on forcing turnovers to create that model of victory?
A: Well as has been proven, if you take it away in our league, it’s going to result in a greater win percentage for your team. We’re going to continue to emphasize it, stress it, and try to come up with those takeaways because we’ve seen, as you mentioned, the results for our team when it happens. We didn’t come up with that one that we had in our hands on Thursday night, which probably could have impacted the ball game, especially as early as it was. But it’s something we’re going to emphasize. You can with that model, it’s been proven. When you don’t get those takeaways, you have to find other ways to help your team, because there are going to be moments or games where it may not happen, so then you have to find other ways to win. That’s it in a nutshell, we’re going to continue to emphasize it. For whatever reason, if we come up short, we have to find other ways to affect the game.
Q: How tough was it to go back and watch the film of that game, considering how uncharacteristic that performance was in a lot of ways?
A: It was tough. You go back and you try to figure out why, the missed tackles [happened]. That’s the thing that really sticks in your craw, because we have tackled well. Even going into the preseason, when you don’t expect to tackle well, and then throughout the regular season, we’ve tackled well. But for whatever reason, we didn’t tackle well the other night. A lot of different reasons for it, but you have to be able to, and I think Sean [McDermott] mentioned this, move on from that game. You identify the areas where you came up short, and then you try to pinpoint why. You have to get your focus on to the next opponent, and that’s where we are now.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR RICK DENNISON
Q: How do you picture Kelvin [Benjamin] in this offense?
A: Well, obviously he’s a big receiver. We just started, but he’ll be on the field. [He has a] good chance to make some catches, and make some plays for us.
Q: What’s realistic, just in terms of the balance you have to strike between what he’s absorbed and what you want to draw up?
A: Well that’s a little early to tell. We’ll certainly go with the base-stuff, what everybody else knows, that we’ve been doing [since] training camp. Phil [McGeoghan] has been working with him, Chad [Hall] has been working with him since he’s been here. We’ll go from there.
Q: Is the idea just to have him kind of master the game plan this week, master the game plan next week as best he can?
A: I think the verbiage – We base everything we do on concepts. If he understands a concept, it’ll carry over from week-to-week.
Q: Essentially, as Brandon Beane said, he’s open when he’s covered?
A: Yeah, he’s so long. Just watching him, when he’s played throughout the league, he’s made some great contested catches, and that’ll help us.
Q: How much does his, being that matchup that teams have to account for, filter down and maybe open up other areas?
A: That’s yet to be seen. Hopefully that will help us, certainly spread the ball around. Like I said, we’re just getting to know him, watching tape with him, and getting [him] to understand what we want to try and do.
Q: What goes into the process of getting a guy like that ready in such a short period of time?
A: Well, [you] certainly have to tell him where to be, the formations. Then, getting him in the right framework, as far as this is the concept, this is how we’re teaching it. [And] the routes, I’m sure he’s run similar routes just looking at the tape, but what we call it, the route technique and how we do it, and then getting him to play with the rest of the guys. He’s one of 11, it’s still going to be all 11 guys making plays.
Q: What was the feedback from coach McGeoghan knowing he was doing all the ‘cram’ sessions with him over the weekend?
A: He’s done a good job. He’s a pro, he’s been around, he understands what it takes to play and to win. He’s been in a good program, obviously, Carolina does a great job. I feel good about that.
Q: Tyrod [Taylor] was talking about this last week, just getting points early in games, has been just kind of a stumbling block for you guys, have you been able to put your finger on what’s held them up early in games?
A: No, not really. Just me looking at more film I guess, I have to go through it. I told the players I feel bad about the way we’ve started [in] some of the games. I have to watch it four times, as opposed to two. [I’ll] just keep watching, coming up, and getting all the input I can from all the staff, and getting in a routine, a rhythm early in the games.
Q: Is that how it works for you coach, like maybe that third or fourth time something strikes you, like a lightning bolt comes?
A: It can’t hurt.
Q: What did you think on Travaris Cadet [today]?
A: Again, in my exposure with him, he’s catching a lot of balls and running it. He does a good job with routes. I’m just getting to know him also. We’ll practice and we’ll see where he goes. Obviously, he’s been around the system and done some really good things. I’m sure most of the concepts will make sense to him, they may be called something else, but may make some sense. We’ll see what his exposure is and see what transpires from there.
Q: Have you identified what may have gone [wrong] and contributed to all of those sacks that you gave up and how the running game got stuck?
A: A lot of things contributed to that. We just didn’t play very well on general concepts, technique, same thing has happened. We have to go back to the drawing board, work hard, and come up with the right formula to make it work this week.