New Orleans Saints Offensive Line/Running Game Coach Aaron Kromer Post-Practice Media Availability Thursday, September 6, 2012
Opening Statement: “Today, wide receiver Adrian Arrington with his right knee and tackle Marcel Jones with his left knee, did not practice. Marques Colston with his foot and cornerback Jabari Greer with his groin were limited. David Hawthorne with his left knee and Curtis Lofton with his right ankle, fully participated. We worked on third down today. Typically on Thursday, (we) take as much time with two minute and third down as we can do and (we) talked all day about converting being a big statistic for us in the past. We were number one in the league offensively (in 2011), so we want to continue that. We worked on that all day today, it was a good day.”
What is it about playing at home that allows you to average 41 points per game? Is that something that can be replicated this season?
“What has happened here, the last couple of years, with Drew Brees and our offense is the defense has got us the ball at home. The crowd is so loud in the dome that it is hard for opposing offenses to have success. The defense causes turnovers, maybe by an offensive lineman being late off (the ball) or a blitz pickup not being communicated because of the noise. You can’t underestimate how loud it is in there, in the dome, and how crazy our fans are. It is really an asset to the team. So, they get the ball back for us, we get it one or two more times at a home game because of it and it allows us one more chances to score.”
Do you have a sense of how comfortable Turk McBride is in his role?
“He sure looks comfortable in practice. Turk McBride is doing a nice job. He has had an opportunity now to fill in all of those reps with Will (Smith) gone and he sure looks good to me.”
Do you think it will help him that he served in a similar role last year?
“No question. Just being here, being comfortable, (although it) was a little bit different defense as far as calls and names.
Let’s be honest, you are doing pretty much the same thing in both defenses.”
Where has this team improved from last year?
“I think our pass rush up front is better on defense. The plan that Bill Johnson, Travis Jones and this d-line with Steve Spagnuolo coaching this defense, they’ve done a great job in pass rush in practice just having a plan on who is rushing where. The techniques are fitting together when the guys are next to each other. I think we will see a vast difference in a four-man rush then we did last year when we four-man rushed.”
How important is the turnover differential?
“We preach every week that the number one stat in football is turnovers and the number two is third-down conversions and we worked on both of those today. We constantly work on trying to get the ball out and also making sure that we secure it on offense. You watch early season football games, you are going to see turnovers are going to determine games a lot more then as the season goes on. Guys aren’t used to getting hit as hard or playing as fast coming off the preseason as they are getting in to this first game. We really talk a lot about ball security for the early season.”
Are there some parts of turnovers more than others that you can’t control?
“We try to make sure that we understand as a football team that turnovers are just the guy who caught the ball, it might be a blocker who didn’t block well enough that caused the guy to get hit in a certain way that he wasn’t expecting. It could be the quarterback was rushed so he didn’t throw the ball like he normally would. There are a lot of factors in turnovers, so we try to put it on the team, rather than just the guy who the ball came out of.”
Is any of your preparation different since you are wearing the big hat?
“I just think that as a group, we’re doing a good job getting a feel for how the team is. Where are we strong now and making sure we pay attention to our qualities of this year’s team. Because every year it’s a new team. Even though it’s the same guys and you might feel it’s the same play and everything, you need to have a feel for how the team is today. Are they fast? Are they playing smart? Are they fresh? Are they hungry? All those things factor in and I think as a group, we’re really keeping a close track on that and doing a good job of it.”
Is there anything you have to pay more attention to as a whole, because of the role you’re stepping into?
“Yes, I would say that I’m paying attention to a lot more thing than in the past, although, the way that it worked around here, we’re all responsible for those things. I understand what you’re asking, but I do think it’s a group effort and everyone’s carrying their load.”
Can you discuss Adrian Arrington’s change in participation?
“Arrington got sore overnight from practicing yesterday.”
Was Marcel Jones the same situation?
“Yes, Marcel on the last play of team, he was on the look team going against our number one defense and he hurt his knee and we’ll see. We’re still evaluating. He’s seeing the trainers and doctors.”
Without a lot of film on Robert Griffin III, is the focus more on in-game adjustments? Will you have to adjust a little bit more on the fly than you normally do defensively?
“This guy, as talented as he is, there will be some adjustments that need to be made. Adjustment in, are we keeping him in the pocket, are we trying to flush him, are we trying to hit him with blitzes. And, I think that with a flurry of different things will be what makes us successful in this game.”
Do you think that all that has gone on this offseason will make the team more motivated in this game?
“We’re looking for the motivation of the fans. We’re looking for the fans to be motivated by the things that have happened in the offseason. I know how they are. I’ve been here long enough now to realize that after a storm that we just had, people are looking for a place to lose all the negative thoughts they have from storms and have a place to be a safe haven, to just have fun and enjoy the team. We hope that motivates our fans to be even more raucous than they already are. We can’t wait to hear them.
From the players standpoint can what has gone on in the offseason and thinking about it be a negative factor and too much of a point of focus?
“I don’t know. A player has so many things to think about within the gameplan and to get himself worried that if he’s worried that much about other things on gameday, than he’s going to get distracted.”
Who will take Joe Vitt’s Saturday night role of giving speeches?
“I think we’re going to do it as a group and we have certain things that we think need to be said, to be reiterated factors of the week that we thought were important in the gameplan and I think we’ll work that out as a group as we go.”
Is there a mental difference between preseason playing football to the first regular season game?
“The biggest difference is going to be this, when you get ready for a regular season game, you have a lot more detailed gameplanning going on. During the preseason, there’s a little bit of game planning, but not to this extent. Not to the level of what these guys have to know for a game like this. That’s what changes the mindset.”
Is it too early for this defense to have an identity?
“Our goal is to have the identity of forcing turnovers, of being fast and playing faster than the offense. We want to create turnovers and they work to create turnovers. We’ll see when the lights turn on and we walk across the white lines and see how this evolves.”
How does the team cope up front without Will Smith?
“Anytime you lose a player of that magnitude, it’s going to affect you. We have capable backups. That’s why we drafted Cam Jordan. That’s we picked up these guys for this situation. So, you hear it quite often, but it’s next guy up. Let’s roll. It’s time for you to go, time for you to play. They wouldn’t be here if they couldn’t fill that role.
If Will had a chance to play, would be he be able to play in the game preparation wise?
“Will’s practiced so much in this defense, I believe you could get him up to speed in a day. Obviously, he would be behind on some of the gameplanning. As far as knowing what the calls are on defense and what he needed to do, I’m sure he could handle it.”