POSTED: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 10:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 10:50pm
METAIRIE, La — The following is a Q and A session with Saints assistant Head Coach Joe Vitt on Thursday May 24, 2012.
Are you going to bring in another quarterback?
“I think bringing in a third is always an option. Our two quarterbacks are getting great reps. They’re taking advantage of this situation right now. (Right) now, the tempo is good and their arms are fresh so we will stay the same. “
What has it been like without Drew Brees on the field?
“Drew is the Offensive Player of the Year in the National Football League. Obviously, we miss him. He is going to be here. I think this has been a great opportunity for Chase (Daniel) to really showcase his skills. I think that he and Sean (Canfield) have done a great job with the tempo, getting our offense in and out of the huddle and knowing where to go with the ball. The ball location has been good. This has been a great opportunity for those guys. We miss Drew, absolutely.”
How do you approach his absence?
“It can’t be a distraction. We can only coach the guys that are here. We had practice today and a lot of you guys here saw the tempo. You saw the way they practiced and it has been good.”
What is your impression of Akiem Hicks at this point?
“Very, very athletic for a big man. He has (a) quick twitch. He has balance and a natural knee bend. I am very happy with him so far. Now, we are running around out there in our underwear. We have to put the pads on and the pads are going to define him.”
Does Darren Sproles look a year older?
“Darren is the kind of guy that works out every day of his life. This is what he does for a living. He is the kind of guy, like the great quarterbacks, I think Brett Favre at 65 years old or a guy like yourself (Bobby Hebert) could still throw the ball 65 yards in the air, I think Darren Sproles could make somebody miss a tackle at 75 years old. He is in great shape. A year in this system, a year in our offense, and a year around here has made him more comfortable. He has looked phenomenal.”
Are there any players you have held back on?
“Jahri Evans, we have kind of increased him (his reps) every day like Jermon Bushrod.”
How are David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton going to operate at their positions?
“These guys are special. They are all business. You guys saw practice today. When you look at their athleticism and range, (you are impressed). They are in great shape. We have been pleasantly surprised with their mental capacity to absorb the new system that is going in. Curtis has done a lot of what we are doing in Atlanta already. Those two guys have been everything we thought they would be and more. They have some natural leadership qualities and they want to win. It has been great.”
What is your impression of Jonathan Vilma’s actions last week?
“That is his constitutional right. I have said this before; Scott Fujita and Jonathan Vilma are like my sons. I don’t know that I have ever been closer to two players in my career. I know their intent every time they take the football field. I know the way they play and the way they prepare. I know their character and pride. That is his right.”
How much better is this time receiving reps with the first unit going to make Chase Daniel?
“The biggest thing is the first offensive line, the first core of receivers and running backs have a lot of confidence in Chase now. They see his ability. Chase has a great understudy (situation) with Drew Brees. Chase has been in the film room with Drew at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday nights getting ready for an opponent. Chase has been there every step of the way. I think that is showing up now. He is well prepared for practices, knows where to go with the ball, has great interaction with his teammates and is getting great pre-snap reads. I think that has all been very, very positive.”
How will the defense be different in coverage?
“Right now, it is a little bit more zone. We have done that for a reason, because of the big plays taking place in the National Football League right now. Against zone defense, they are less prevalent. It is a little bit of a transition for Patrick (Robinson) and Jabari (Greer) but they have really done a good job so far fitting into that mode. There is a little bit more adjustment-wise with motion and formation variation but that is why we have OTAs.”
How has the attitude changed on defense?
“Spags is a hands-on coach. He loves to teach. He loves to have the whole defense in there so everybody is on the same page. I would categorize him as a player’s coach. He puts a lot of the decision-making on the player in the course of practice and the course of a game. He doesn’t dwell on mistakes. I think he is going to produce a very positive atmosphere around here for us.”
What would eliminating some of those big plays do for the team?
“We talked about that this morning. Offensively, last year, we had 124 big plays of runs of 10 yards or more or pass plays of 20 yards or more. Defensively, we gave up more last year than we ever have at 99. The big plays on offense, we would like to keep that number exactly where it is. We have to get that number on defense down to about 75. Just a little bit more zone defense and not selling the farm is going to give you an opportunity to keep those big balls off your back.”
Are you still transitioning to your new role and the new responsibilities?
“What I have done this week is I have tried to concentrate on the practice and feel the linebackers. Next week, I want to really concentrate on coaching the linebackers and feeling the practice. This is a transition for me and I have to do whatever is best for our football team. I am not going to lie to you, I am still finding my way a little bit.”
How much will the addition of Brodrick Bunkley help Sedrick Ellis?
“We are really happy so far with Bunkley. This is a very serious man who is serious about his craft and his trade. He comes to work every day and wants to get better. We haven’t lost confidence at all in Sedrick Ellis but healthy competition is always good. There is a lot of competition in that room right now. It is going to be interesting to see how it shakes out.”
From a leadership standpoint, is there anything you lose by not having Drew Brees here?
“Drew has always been a leader through his performance. These are OTAs, we are not getting ready for a playoff game or a Super Bowl game. I think this is a great opportunity to see what some of our other players can do and some of the leadership roles our other players can take. So far, it has been positive. Do we miss him? Absolutely. These other guys have stepped up and done a nice job.”