The advent of Dennis Allen as defensive coordinator had an initial hiccup against the Texans as Houston scored touchdowns on each of their first two drives but the Saints held the home to just 24 points on the day, the fourth lowest by an opponent this season.
Thursday, Sean Payton discussed the defense's makeover, among other topics, during a teleconference with reporters. The following is the totality of that availability, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
How you feel protection issues on the offensive line have played a role in the offensive struggles the last three games?
"I think part of the challenge with the protections when you're into these third and longs obviously it becomes much more difficult. I think it's part of the challenge and part of the reason we have struggled and yet there is a bigger byproduct from it and it's the early down efficiency."
Can you tell us about what Dennis Allen did differently defensively?
"(There were) some coverage front combinations that were different some trap coverages that were new and then you know how we put personnel together and then how we communicated and how the calls sheets were organized and there is more than just three or four things."
How did you think Hau'oli Kikaha did in coverage last game?
"Well if you're looking at nickel or looking at base, his role was very similar to what it's been and yet I thought he handled his snaps well. When you're playing one game he might be in more of a rush load because it's a nickel package and the next week you're playing a heavy group at the outside linebacker position."
The Carolina Panthers have 33 sacks spread among 15 players, which is the most of any team. What does that speak to as far as what they do defensively?
"Last night was the night that we work on third down and obviously in the prior evenings you're seeing their base looks and their base pressures, (as well as) their sacks and how they're getting them. They do a very good job of attacking your protections with pressure and also a four-man rush. One time it might be the nickel, the next time it might be a corner blitz, and the next time it is a strong safety. Obviously, they're going to pressure with the two linebackers or the three linebackers, depending on who is in the game, and then their front. When you look at some depth in the front and then some of the multiple ways that they try to attack your protections (you get that high number of sacks spread among different players). That's a very unusual number. You might go back five years and not have that amount of production from as many different people. Part of it is how they have designed their scheme and part of it's the depth and how well they're playing."
You mentioned call sheet organization; can you explain that a little bit?
"It's just how your (play call) sheet's spread up category-wise. How do you look at second down? Is it second (and) seven to ten? Or do you view it as just second down in its entirety. The actual organization and how it is laid out can vary based on how a guy wants to look at it and how a guy looks at calling a game."
You said something about communication change; do you mean with the players on the field?
"I would say that that was a big point of emphasis in the bye week."
In what sense, to alignment or one position group speaking to another?