New Orleans Saints Offensive Line/Running Game Coach Aaron Kromer
5:21 PM PDT, September 19, 2012
Opening statement: “Today, at practice, we had Turk McBride, ankle, didn’t practice. Jonathan Casillas, knee, didn’t practice. Drew Brees, ankle, was full. Roman Harper, wrist, was full. Marques Colston, foot, was limited. Johnny Patrick was full with his right thigh. Devery Henderson was full after his concussion. We had a couple of roster moves. We waived Jerome Murphy and signed Elbert Mack. We terminated, from injured reserve, wide receiver Adrian Arrington. It was a good practice today, we played fast. Guys are into it. They realize that we are playing one game at a time and it’s all focus on just this week.”
Devery Henderson has been cleared to play?
“Devery looks good, yes. He is practicing full-go and has been cleared to go.”
Is Pierre Thomas not talked about enough as far as making things go offensively?
“Like I said after the game, he is under-appreciated at times and, obviously, that was a time. It went un-talked about a little bit because of the final outcome of the game. Pierre Thomas has always been a productive runner. He has always been an elusive runner. He has been, over the years I have been here for sure, and Sean (Payton) has been here, a very good running back for us.”
What does he do differently running where he is able to spin off tacklers that would bring a normal running back down?
“His best attribute is his balance. He can get in awkward positions and stay up where a lot of guys would fall down.”
What specific adjustments need to be addressed for why this team is 0-2?
“Specifically, offensively, we talked about it this morning. You have to know why teams are winning and why teams are losing and the number one stat we look at is turnovers. If you look at it, we have four turnovers and we have no takeaways. You look at the Kansas City Chiefs, they have six turnovers and no takeaways and both teams are going in here 0-2 because of it. That’s not all on the person that turns it over. That’s a team effort there whether its blocking, catching, running the right route or getting the right depth, playing the defense fast enough or getting pressure on the quarterback. That’s a team stat when a lot of people look at it as an individual stat and it’s not.”
How does being 0-2 affect the mindset of your players?
“We are not used to being 0-anything. This is a winning organization. It has been a winning organization and we are going to take it back to that. This is unchartered territory for all of us. All we can do is worry about this one week and worry about this practice and this day and how we are getting better individually. Look in the mirror, don’t point fingers, and move on.”
How is different preparing for Matt Cassel instead of the other two quarterbacks you have faced (Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton)?
“It’s more of a traditional NFL offense, you would say that. It would be like practicing against us in training camp if you were our defense, I would think. Very similar style of running and passing. (They have) A very talented group.”
Statistically, the Chiefs have the best offense in AFC while 0-2. Are most of their points and yards coming late in the game? What do you see when you see them on film?
“It would be similar, yes. It would be. A lot of their yards are coming in a two-minute when they are in catch-up mode. At the same time, this is a team that is full of Pro Bowlers and they had a lot of injuries last year with their Pro Bowl talent. They are a lot to be reckoned with. They’ve done the same thing we’ve done, we have talent, they have talent, we need to eliminate turnovers and they need to do the same. Something is going to bust in this game.”
It is a priority to throw the ball downfield and to the wide receivers more this week?
“Yes. Anytime we can get a big play, we are looking for it. We call big plays. What Drew (Brees) does a good job of is he throws it to the open guy. If they are covering it (the big play), then he is going to check it down to the next guy. We are going to continue to call deep plays and big plays and if they are covered, we will check it down.”
Did Marques Colston regress with his foot injury?
“If you watched the game, he wasn’t Marques Colston in the game. You could say that hindered us a little bit, he didn’t run as fast as he normally does. He is resting it a little bit this week.”
What kind of impact are you hoping to have with Devery Henderson coming back?
“Devery Henderson is a big factor in our offense because of his speed. He blocks, he is physical, (and) he can catch the ball. He does so much that it is going to be a big impact having him back.”
When you look at the quarterback’s success in the first two games, how much would attribute that to not getting enough pressure on the quarterback?
“Definitely. When you are talking about those two quarterbacks we just played, they are very mobile and you have to make choices. You have to make choices that you are going to keep them in the pocket or you are going to blitz him and take a chance that he gets out of the pocket. The choice was made to keep him in the pocket and then you have to cover.”
So a lot of it was scheme the past couple of games?
“There were a few blitzes and you take your shots here or there. When we weren’t blitzing, it was important to keep him in the pocket.”
Has your philosophy changed season-to-season on how to use Darren Sproles in the running game?
“It has been more of the game situation on how to use Darren. Darren is a multi-faceted player. He is very good and efficient at running routes and catching the ball and running in space. He also does a good job in the running game. It just hasn’t come up to be honest. There are plenty of runs designed for him or he could be in on the same runs that the other guys are in. He is an inside-outside runner.”
On Drew Brees’ interceptions, other than the Hail Mary, have you been able to figure out what happened?
“When you look back, a couple of them were pressure on the quarterback. From last week, you’d say it was a choice that he probably wouldn’t make again if he had the opportunity.”
Can you emphasize that even though the offense isn’t where it needs to be, the Saints are ranked third in offense and that it might just be a few isolated issues?
“As we talked with the offense today and this week, the games come down to a couple of plays and they do every week. Is it close enough, is the play good enough to not hurt you? Or, is it a play that hurts you in the game? The momentum-breaker, the interception, the dropped ball in the end zone, the missed block, there are a lot of things that can change the momentum of a game. You have to block just good enough to get the ball off. You have to catch the ball when you are open. You are not going to always catch the contested ones. You want to catch most of them. If everyone does their job just a little bit better, not a ton better because we only need nine points difference then what we’ve had the last two times, and it really came down to a couple of plays in each game.”
What did you think about Akiem Hicks in his first action against Carolina?
“Akiem Hicks is a powerful, young player. Any young player in the National Football League is raw and his techniques aren’t perfect but that guy has the power and ability to play right now.”
Is there a point where you stand up or a player gives a speech and says that there has been enough adjusting, it is time to just do it?
“Yes. It is time to just do it and it has been time to just do it since week one. Everyone has their mind on the task. Everyone, players, coaches, front office, everybody has their mind on the task. We just have to continue to prove what this team is. What is this team? What is our attribute? What is our negative? We have to be a good tackling assignment team. We have to be a good throw and catch team, blocking team. It is still fundamentals. You watch the games, it is still fundamentals. Between the coaches, the players, and all of us put together, we need to do a better job in our fundamentals and everybody has to do a little bit more with their assignments. It is normal football progression, it is just we’ve had a couple more plays in each game that cost us the game instead of won us the game like we’ve had in the past.”
What are your thoughts on the Kansas City rushing attack?
“It’s going to be important that we stop the run first. It always is. Defensive coaches, offensive coaches, we all talk about running the ball and stopping the run first. We don’t talk about it just to talk about it. If you allow a team to just continue to run on you, it’s going to be a long day. If you can get 163 rushing, like we did last week, it’ll be a good day for us.”
When Kansas City is playing well, those guys offer a change of pace and both set up the run.
“Yeah, it is similar to our backfield where we have different types of talent. Each guy has a little bit different talent. They are not going to just one in for all of the outside runs and one for all of the inside runs. It’s balance. We really need to do a good job stopping it.”
Did you feel that the offensive line played pretty well this past weekend?
“Sure. The offensive line has been solid. Would you ask each one of them and they would say it’s early in the season and they can play better? Yes. They can play better. That’s the whole point of the whole conversation we are having is that each week we have to play just a little bit better. Right now, we have to put it together in this one week for this weekend.”
Is it realistic for both teams to be process-oriented and tune out the danger of starting 0-3 or is that a stress you guys feel and need to overcome?
“We have a great locker room. Our guys are great. They have great character and they have great leadership. If anyone is able to do it, it will be us. We need tunnel-vision, we need to think about this week, and we need to think about what I can do better, each one of us, what I can do better. Look in the mirror and figure it out.”
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