New Orleans Saints Offensive Line/Running Game Coach Aaron Kromer
6:50 PM EDT, September 26, 2012
Opening statement: “Turk McBride, left ankle, did not practice. David Hawthorne, hamstring, did not practice. Jonathan Casillas, neck, did not practice. Everybody else was full.”
What are your thoughts on the officials?
“I’d love to have a lot of thoughts on that but I have plenty of things to think about myself. All we are worried about right now is how we are getting better and how we are going to win a game and go up to Green Bay and have our best performance. I really don’t have any comment on any officials.”
After reviewing the tape, looking at Green Bay, what are some of the things that you see that you can exploit offensively?
“They’re a very talented group. We went up there last year in the first game of the season and we had a pretty productive day. We got down early and came back. Drew (Brees) did a nice job of passing the ball around and getting us back in the game and we have to go up there with our best effort.”
How much of a green light does Darren Sproles have returning kicks from the end zone?
“When you see elite returners around the league, and I consider Darren Sproles an elite returner, they’re going to take it from nine yards deep now. Moving the (kickoff) line up, you’re going to get the ball deeper and Darren has had his fair share of bringing it past the 20 (yard line). We have to continue to do a good job blocking for him. We feel like Darren can take one to the house and it’s important that he has opportunities to do it.”
How much of a difference does it make starting that much deeper? You want to get to at least the 20?
“We obviously do. Like I said, there is going to be a fair amount of them that he gets past the 20 and you just have to take that chance, at times, that he might not get to the 20. We have to make up for it offensively.”
Pierre Thomas said the other day that you guys came back on Monday and it was very important to just get rid of everything that happened and just start over. Have you guys done a good job of that?
“No, you can’t get rid of everything. You have to look at what’s gone wrong and what the problem has been. Obviously, mentally, you have to put the frustration behind you so you can have positive energy to do the right thing. We definitely have to learn from the past so we can carry on in the future and have more success. We are doing that. Everyone has to hold each other accountable and we need to hold ourselves accountable to get our jobs done.”
What is you sense of the player’s attitude after returning from a two days off?
“What we have seen, today, as I say one day in a row, (is) determination. You see guys concentrating. You see a fast practice today. We were outside and they did a nice job. We took the pads off so they could play fast and be fresh. The defense had a lot of reps in the last game and we want to be as fresh as we can be going to Green Bay.”
What is your message to them about putting it all behind them and moving on?
“The message today was that we are not playing good enough. We are not playing well enough at this point. We need to find a way to play well enough to win a game and that’s what it comes down to. We have to do a better job coaching, we have to do a better job playing and then things will turn around. If we look for other things to happen, it’s not there. That’s what it comes down to.”
Have you reached a point where it is almost too big of a hole if you don’t rectify it early?
“I don’t think you can dig too deep of a hole to win a game this weekend and that’s all we care about right now.”
How much of a challenge is it defending Green Bay’s pass rush?
“They are a very good pass rush team. They get a lot of practice in their practices against their offense throwing it around. Here, at the New Orleans Saints, we have been a great pass protecting team. This year, we have not and we need to improve it. The guys are all working at it. They are studying. They are looking at themselves, we’re correcting our technique, we are solving the problems that we have and we are going to get better. That is what we have to do.”
What has been the biggest problem with the line in protection?
“There is a lot of things that go on. I said this on Monday and I’ll repeat it again today, there’s times where guys get physically beat. There’s times that your receivers don’t get open. There’s time that the play might not have been ideal for the situation. It’s coaching, its playing, its technique and it’s all 11 guys caused a sack. Now, every once in a while, a guy gets physically beat and it’s up to one guy. He got beat so quick that we didn’t have a chance. Offensively, we need to improve everywhere to have this protection system work.”
How have the Packers improved their pass defense from last season?
“They definitely are getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. We need to do a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly as Drew Brees has a history of doing. When we throw it down the field, we have to have that down of solid protection. They are getting to the quarterback.”
Do the coaches ever get caught up in the moment, in the setting of Lambeau Field?
“There is so much to think about on game day that, obviously it is an impressive place to be but when you get on that field, they are all the same. Guys have to do what they do and you have to do the best job you can coaching. The first time I went there, I went with Jon Gruden and we walked off the bus and he said, ‘Aaron, come on, let’s walk this thing,’ and talked about the history of that stadium. It’s a special place and we are looking forward to going there.”
Are you going to keep the backs in to block more often to help the offensive line?
“If you really study our pass protection and our theories in pass protection, we do have a fair amount of help with our receivers, our running backs, and our tight ends before they go out for a pass. It’s been a combination of a lot of things like I already said. Some of it is one-on-one matchups, some of it is not getting to the correct people because they disguised it. There are a lot of things but it gets accentuated when you don’t win a game. There has been plenty of times where we have gotten the ball out in years past in these exact same situations in years past and we have not talked about the protection.”
Is the criticism of the offensive line unjust?
“I think that the criticism of the o-line is justified. I think the criticism of the receivers, the tight ends, the quarterbacks and the running backs is justified because we are 0-3. I think it is all justified and we need to do a better job as a team.”
With everything that has happened since this past offseason, how do you prevent a ‘woe is me’ type attitude from infiltrating this team?
“When we do the things that we’re talking about, and as we have for the last three weeks, it is even intensifying now is there is a sense of urgency and the guys are willing to do the things they have to do. Have they done that from day one? Obviously not. They’re at peak’s end and they are making sure that they are getting this thing done.”
Can you put a finger as to why it got to here rather than addressing this from the start? The intensity, things like that, have you been able to figure out why?
“There are a lot of reasons why. It could be that we didn’t practice hard enough in training camp. Maybe we had too many distractions at times and we didn’t handle them correctly. We think we are handling them correctly, we say we are, and I want to make sure that we are. My job is to make sure that we are handling (them) the correct way. Just playing fast on defense and offense, that is all we need to worry about. If you keep thinking that way, good things will happen in the long run.”
Do you sense the arrow pointing up?
“Yes, I do. I absolutely do. The arrow is up.”
Are you surprised at all of the sacks that the Packers have given up this year?
“Most of them were this past game. They doubled their sack (total) in the past game. Let’s be honest, Seattle is a good defense. If you watch them on TV or on tape, you’ll realize how fast they are. Those two guys coming off the edge are extremely fast and they cover well. Those things happen at times. Sometimes they come in flurries.”
It is always tough to play at Lambeau Field but is it a more inopportune time because of what happened at the end of the game last week?
“What happens to them is of no concern to us to be honest. What happens to us is what’s concerning us.”
What has Charles Woodson added to the defense, switching from cornerback to safety?
“Now that he is at safety, he is also playing the nickel back. He gets up there close to the line just like he always has. He has always been their nickel defender. He is in on a lot of downs. When he is playing safety, there are a lot of times where he is up by the line of scrimmage anyways. The impact would be is he can make more plays and you can’t go away from him because he comes to you.”
Has he been assigned to the other team’s tight end a lot?
“Quite a bit, yes.”
Is that trend going to continue with the athletic tight ends in the league today?
“I am sure that they are going to try to put their best player on the other team’s best player or perceived best player. I could see with the tight ends the way they are going. At some point, I hope he quits playing so we don’t have to go see him again. He is a good football player.”
How are you preparing for Aaron Rodgers?
“Here is the thing, you have to stay tight in your coverages because he is going to do, like Drew normally does, and get the ball off quickly. You don’t want to give up the big play with him because he has the capability and the players to do that. You want to get as much pressure as you can to disturb him, just like any quarterback. If he is able to sit back there and see the field and have time, he is very competent and, obviously, one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.”
Do you see Darren Sproles being more involved in the running game?
“As it comes up and as the defense gives it to you, we’ll take it. When I say gives it to you, when they give us alignments and things that we like then we’ll hand it to Darren. If they don’t, then we will throw it to Darren.”
Was that first play last week pre-determined?
“Yes. We were pre-determined calling them. He had two good plays on that style of play and one we didn’t block as well.”