What’s your frame of mind this week based on what’s happened the last two weeks?
“Optimistic that we’re going to get this thing back on track very quickly. Obviously (we’re) disappointed by the 0-2 start, but there’s nothing we can do about it now except learn from our mistakes and continue to focus on the process and preparation. We know we have the right people in the building, coaches and players and now it’s’ just a matter of pulling it all together and finding our rhythm so to speak. I think that we actually improved in a lot of ways from week one to week two. Now unfortunately that doesn’t result in a win, but we can go back and look at the tape. (There are) plenty of things. I said it right after the game where there’s probably at least six or seven plays offensively that you go back and say if we just made two of those, we win that game. I know defensively from talking to those guys, they feel the same way on that end. So, its’ not drastic. It’s not (that) each side has to make a ton more plays. It’s just a few things here and there. We just have to get a little bit better, but we did take a big step forward from week one to week two.”
Given that you’re 0-2, how much does that weigh on everybody in the locker room and on the mindset of everybody in the locker room? Is it too early in the season? How do you do it?
“We view it the only way we can view it and that is that it’s’ not the start that we wanted. All we can worry is about what’s ahead of us. The most important thing is this week. As much as we’d want to go out and try to win 14 games in one week, we can’t. We can only win one game and obviously it’s a long season and a lot can happen through the course of the season. A lot does happen through the course of the season. You have your ups and downs and times. You know you’re going to face adversity at some point. We faced it a little bit sooner than maybe most, but in the end, I feel like this is going to make us better. It’s going to make us a better team. It’s going to bring us together, but we do need a win and we want it to be this week.”
With all of what went on this offseason, it seems like there is a feeling with some that as long as Drew is around, it all works out. What is your perception of that in the context of the first two games? Is it weighing on you at all?
“You can just say you haven’t played very well, so what’s the deal?”
But the offense is actually ranked third in the NFL in net yardage?
“Yes, here’s the thing. I’m always going to look at the thing with a very critical eye and first of all I take great responsibility in the fact that people feel that way about it. I’m humbled by that, but I take my job seriously. I feel like every time I step on the field, we can find a way to win and that obviously I’m a part of that. I have looked at so many things over these last two games and say I could have been better here. We could have been better here. And like I said, I’ve seen improvement, but we’re nowhere near where we’re going to be and because of the fact that our mistakes have resulted in losses, at times it’s nice when you can step away from a game having won and said we have to clean up these things here, but we won. Well, we’re in a situation here where we put ourselves behind the eight ball a little bit. There’s nothing we can do about it other than just win this week. We can’t make up for that. We can’t go back in time. For me, I know the things I need to work on. I know the things I need to improve on. Certainly my productivity at the quarterback position, but also as a leader and someone guys look to for guidance and leadership, respect and I certainly embrace that role.”
Are you going to be more careful with the ball and with your play moving forward after some of the early turnovers?
“I can say that two of the interceptions happened, one on a Hail Mary at the end of the Washington and then one last week with 30 seconds left and we’re trying to get down the field, so desperation situations. The two that really bug me are where i was just being overly aggressive and getting it a little high to Lance (Moore) against Washington on a drive when we could go and tie the game. Last week, just the risk-reward to Dave (Thomas) of throwing it in the flat and the guy made a great play. He came over the top of him and snatched the ball, but you just give them seven easy points and the momentum shift that creates too is just disappointing, because in your mind that’s fluky. That’s a ball that you very easily throw away and move onto the next play with. The thing is, they’re all fixable. I’m not going to change my mentality, my aggressiveness, my approach, my preparation, but I do understand how important it is to take care of the football and I understand that my mistake with that interception return for a touchdown, even though it was in the first quarter last week is a critical mistake and I can’t do that.”
Did it seem like all of the things that your top three running backs in Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram do well were on display Sunday?
“Yes, all three of them played great and each one of them has a unique role. Their skill sets are pretty impressive and you just watch. (Mark) Ingram comes in and he gets rolling. All of a sudden it’s Pierre (Thomas) and then it’s (Darren) Sproles. The combination of the three of them. I can only imagine what it’s like for a defense to plan for each guy and how we use them and just the fact that at times we have two or three of them in the game at the same time. I just think that’s certainly something for us where it provides some weapons and (helps) our ability to be pretty creative with what we do.”
How does it help to have Devery Henderson back at practice?
“That’s big because Devery plays all the receiver positions. He’s been in the system for a long time. He knows it very well. He can do everything. He can do the downfield stuff, the intermediate stuff, the short stuff. He’s’ a great blocker in the run game. He can stretch the field. He’s obviously involved in a lot of our game plan, so it’s great to have him back.”
Did you learn anything from the team’s 0-4 start in 2007?
“You start off 0-4, that’s tough sledding after that. So, I mean ever last year, we started off 5-3 last year. That wasn’t what we had anticipated. That wasn’t what we had hoped for. (We) lost some heartbreakers, some tough ones and then we rattled off nine in a row. We know what we’re capable of and I think the biggest thing, I’d be really concerned here if we had played the way we did in game one and really had taken a step back in game two, saying obviously something’s wrong. But the fact that we’re moving forward despite the loss, that gives us a lot of hope and excitement about just stepping on the field again, feeling like we’re going to be putting our best foot forward.”
Do you get the impression that Pierre Thomas is still motivated after all these years?
“Yes. He’s one of these guys who plays with a chip on his shoulder. You talk about a complete back, the guy can do everything. I’m amazed at his balance, ability to shed tacklers and his ability to stay on his feet. (He’s) come up with some big plays. I get the best seat in the house. It’s fun to hand it off and watch that guy run at times. He had a heck of a game the other day too. That was a championship performance by him.”
How do you balance being careful of situations, yet staying aggressive?
“It’s a confidence thing. When you’re confident, you play aggressive within the system. We call it aggressively smart. We’re going to dial up big plays all the time. If it’s there, take advantage of it, because in the end, those are the differences in games to be able to hit on some of those big plays, but you also have to understand when it’s not there and sometimes your best play as a quarterback can be two throw it away or you take the sack, because the flip side of that is you force one, you get a pick (or) lose the ball in the pocket, whatever it may be, so you just look at situations in games when it’s time to take a chance, maybe when it’s time not to, but I’d say within our system we dial it up a lot, so (there’s) no need to force it. We’re going to take advantage of big play opportunities and then know when to check it down and move on to the next play.”
What do you think of Kansas City’s defense?
“I see a defense with a lot of young talent that’s played really well at times and it’s a 3-4 scheme, something we don’t see all the time. They have some pretty talented pass rushers, some talented linebackers and some good athletes on the back end, so you see guys around that are playmakers and just knowing that you have to be aware of where some of these guys are at all times.”
You are listed on the injury report. How is the ankle today?
“It’s good. I took all the reps in practice and felt pretty good.”
Have you kept tabs this week on Jonathan Vilma’s situation in New York meeting with the Commissioner?
“For us, we’re focused on football, winning games. We understand that it’s in our little periphery. It obviously affects Jonathan who’s a member of our team. We’d like to have Jonathan in position where he’s playing for us in the near future this year, so we’ll kind of see how it all plays out, but we’re focused on winning football games.”
What does it say after Sunday’s loss and the 0-2 start that guys aren’t blaming distractions for the start, rather themselves?
“I think it says a lot about our team and our mindset. It’s’ easy when you have a good team like we have, we know we have a talented team, we’ve got a track record. When you start off 0-2, everybody wants to ask what’s wrong, what’s going on, well it must be all these distractions, it must be all these things. Obviously we'd have a pretty eventful offseason. It has been difficult at times, but once we started training camp and once we got in the locker room, it was all about football and we’re still growing as a team. We’re still coming together as a team. We have some new faces, we have a new scheme defensively. We have a little bit of newness that we’re having to continue to adjust to, but there are no excuses, because in the end, we know what to do when we step on the field and we just haven’t been able to execute as well as we know we can and I think the fact that guys don’t want to look for an excuse and rather look at themselves in the mirror and see about how I can get better and how can I help this team get back on track, those are the types of guys you want. Those are the types of guys we have.”
What’s the biggest difference as a quarterback playing the 3-4 as opposed to the 4-3?
“At times its’ just some different pressure packages. It’s’ the way that the defense is built, the body type of certain players and even within a 3-4 scheme there are different fronts that can be played off of that which can vary greatly from one 3-4 team to another, but in the end, I think it’s the personnel, the fact that you have these hybrid outside linebackers that are pass rush specialists, but are athletic enough to drop in coverage and do some special things. You have to be really good with your protections against those types of teams. The inside linebackers are typically big, bigger thud types that can really do damage and so just typically just the way they’re build and the way they produce pressure packages is usually what you’re dealing with with a 3-4 defense.”
In terms of adjusting to different things, is there a certain time when you say enough is enough the learning curve is over and it’s time for a rah rah speech?
“No, you stay the course. We’re a team that’s been together for a long time. Aaron Kromer, our interim, interim head coach has been here for five years. We all know Aaron Kromer. We all think he’s doing a great job. Offensively, I look around and a lot of the pieces to the puzzle are the same. Defensively, there are a few new faces. There’s a new scheme. There’s a new defensive coordinator, but every year there’s a little bit of that going on. You pull it together and kind of establish your identity and you move forward. I just think we’re still in a little bit in the process of that, obviously because we haven’t been able to find our rhythm yet. We continue to improve. That’s what we have to focus on and we will continue to focus on as we move forward and hopefully that results in wins.”
New Orleans Saints Linebacker Curtis Lofton
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
After the first two weeks, are you guys putting emphasis on putting pressure on the quarterback?
“We put an emphasis on everything. It’s not one group like the d line against the quarterback. Linebackers, safeties, corners, we’re all in this together and we all have to improve.”
Are two sacks by the front seven in the first two weeks, something Steve Spagnuolo has talked about with the defense?
“Yes, we can’t have quarterbacks just sitting back there, so it’s going to be all of us together putting pressure on the quarterback, whether it’s the front four or on blitzes.”
Is it better for you guys this week in that you face a more traditional quarterback?
“You have a more conventional offense now, so we can start playing more of our defense without worrying as much about the quarterback running, although (Matt) Cassel is athletic and he can run. So, it’s going to be exciting to go out there and play against a conventional offense.”
Do you expect them to put in some read options?
“It wouldn’t surprise me after the past couple weeks, it wouldn’t surprise me if they do some of that. But we’re prepared and we have to go out and improve.”
You’re new here, the team’s 0-2 and Atlanta is 2-0. Do you feel regrets in your decision to sign with the Saints?
“No, when I made my decision to come here, I knew the team that we have and what we’re going to be. No, the Falcons are playing great ball, I have a lot of friends (there) and I’m happy for them, but I’m still happy with my decision. I’m going to continue to get better with this team. We’ll be okay.”
Are you a vocal leader and do you have to become more vocal or more of a leader?
“No, I think actions speak louder than words. I feel like a lot of people are talking about doing this and doing that. I feel like for me, I’m going to go out and let my actions speak for myself.”
How surprised are you that you guys are looking at 0-2?
“Around here, there’s a reason I came here. This is a winning organization and losing is not what we do and so we just have to go back and get to the fundaments and continue to improve as a team. I actually saw a quote where adversity weakens the weak and strengthens the strong, so we have great strong guys in here, great character guys and we’ll continue to improve and get better.”
Was playing those first two quarterbacks in week one and week two like beating your head against the wall?
“I wouldn’t say beating our heads against the wall. I would say more like shooting ourselves in the foot. I’m not going to let Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) take the bullet. Us as players have to go out there and execute. When we play quarterbacks like that, everybody has to be disciplined and one guy can’t miss his fit or missed assignment. That’s what we’ve been doing. Moving forward, we can’t do that and we just have to improve.”
Having played against Pierre Thomas and now seeing him as a teammate, how does he always get that extra yard?
“The thing about Pierre on the outside looking in is he has great balance. He probably has the best balance of any back. He runs low by his pads. That’s tough. When he’s low like that, you have to get low and if you don’t, he’s going to bounce off you and keep going.”
Is there a play with Pierre as a Falcon that you remember that stands out?
“Actually, there are a few plays. I remember one in Atlanta where we ran a blitz, I came through and we hit him, but I didn’t wrap him up. He spun around and ran in for a touchdown.”
Do you remember when that was?
“’08 or ’09.”
Is it tough the way the defense has played and how Steve Spagnuolo has had to defend you guys publicly? Is it a balance of understanding what’s going on without harping on what’s happened? How do you block out some of the statistics and move on?
“I look at it where you have a 24-hour rule. You could have gone out and played great defense and had many turnovers and not given up any points. That was last week. This is this week. I was talking about improving as a team, improving as a defense, being consistent and that’s what we are doing when we show up on Sunday.”Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times