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Saints' defensive ends not to be taken lightly

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints' defensive ends not to be taken lightly Smith, Grant & Co. reveal keys to succeed Wednesday, September 05, 2007 By Mike Triplett Offense is the marquee attraction in Thursday night's showdown between the Saints and Colts, and as usual ...

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Old 09-05-2007, 04:13 PM   #1
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Saints' defensive ends not to be taken lightly

Saints' defensive ends not to be taken lightly

Smith, Grant & Co. reveal keys to succeed
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 By Mike Triplett

Offense is the marquee attraction in Thursday night's showdown between the Saints and Colts, and as usual the quarterbacks will get top billing.
But the Saints' defensive ends believe it's in their job description to be the biggest difference-makers on the field.
Before what might be their stiffest test all season, they offered a glimpse inside their world:
"Defensive end is a dominant position. You can change the game just by having a good defensive end."
-- Rob Ninkovich
"Any time you see a quarterback get sacked, for that series he's kind of rattled a little bit. So the more you can hit him, the more you can affect him, the better. And then if you can force a turnover, that's a huge momentum shift."
-- Will Smith
"Playing defensive end is about getting the other guy to think, 'What's he going to do this play? Is he going to power me? Is he going to use some speed? Is he going to spin on me? Is he going to come inside?' It all affects how he sets, how he plays. So it's definitely a position where you can work on somebody the whole game."
-- Ninkovich
"Going into each game, you know where a guy is vulnerable and you know what he's good at. So you kind of set your pass rush up from that. If you've got a lighter guy, you may want to attack him earlier and put a little bit more pressure on him, like bull him a lot and be a more physical rusher. If you've got a heavy guy that's kind of slow off the ball, you probably want to hit him with a little bit more speed and kind of keep changing it up on him.
"Either way, the goal is to make him feel as uncomfortable as possible."
-- Smith
"You're not going to win every play in the National Football League. You want to, but you set up 20 percent of the time to win 80 percent. . . . It's like a pitcher."
-- Charles Grant
"You have to keep him guessing. You do something like bull rush him a couple times, then you fake bull him and go around the corner or something like that. But you definitely have to set him up."
-- Josh Cooper
"Sometimes the first few passing plays, I get up field as hard as I can, just to show him that I'm fast enough to get around him. And then once he sees that, he'll start opening up to try and stop the speed. And then I come with the power. So then he's thinking, 'OK he's got a little speed, he's got some power,' and then I'll throw a counter. Then when he thinks I'm power, I'll speed. Or he thinks I'll power, I'll counter."
-- Ninkovich
"I got a lot of moves. It all depends on the guy you're going up against. Some moves won't work against certain guys, some moves work even better against certain guys. And then some moves will just work against anybody."
-- Smith
"I'm a power rusher. I've got speed and power. That's me, speed and power, and my swipe, that's it."
-- Grant
"I think it's about 50-50 (film study and feel). You've got to be able to know what style of offense they have, what are they trying to achieve every down, whether or not they're trying to hurry up on you, whether or not they're trying to sit back and they like to get deeper in pass rush, whether they're an aggressive team or power team. There's a bunch of different stuff you can look at. Then you try to read the player."
-- Smith
"I read my guy. The tackle's foot, if he's heavy or light. I read through the tackle to the backfield, see the sets, the formations and all that stuff."
-- Grant
"Looking at the backs, if it's near far, I-backs, split-backs. Look at the guards. Then I'll look at my tackle's eyes, if he's looking down or if he's looking out at the linebacker."
-- Ninkovich
"Then you get in your stance and you line up and you kind of watch the ball out of one eye, and the other eye is on the guy in front of you."
-- Smith
"You really don't even hear the crowd. I'm just listening for my 'backers telling me what I've got to do, or if they audible, reload."
-- Ninkovich
"You just zone out. The only thing I see is that ball and my opponent. Like, 'Boom,' like you're in your own little world or in a tunnel."
-- Grant
"To me, it seems like it's forever. Because you're going through a lot of stuff in your head. So it's not as fast as it seems on film. It takes a while."
-- Cooper
"It's actually pretty fast to me. I'm just worried about whenever he does snap the ball, me being prepared to get off the ball and attack the guy in front of me or get even with him on a pass rush and then be able to pass him."
-- Smith
"You know right away if you're winning or losing. If you hit him and you knock him back, you're thinking, 'OK, I got this guy. I'm making this play.' But you've got to definitely handle your blocker before you think about making the tackle."
-- Cooper

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Old 09-05-2007, 04:15 PM   #2
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Re: Saints' defensive ends not to be taken lightly

"I don't really think I lose that much. . . . When you're doing your move, each pass rush consists of about two or three moves. So if the first move doesn't work, then you've got to have a counter to that. Then you have to have another counter to the other move."

-- Smith

"My biggest problem sometimes is getting overanxious, overlooking something. I just go too fast. I'll try and read something too fast when I need to slow down a little bit and let things develop, then react to it. That's one thing Charles is really good at. He can get some penetration at the line of scrimmage, then read the play and then react at the exact point."
-- Ninkovich

"You never know when the play's over. One guy, you might have him, but he might get loose. You've just got to keep going. Your motor's just got to keep running."

-- Grant

"I think all the defensive linemen will tell you they get held on every single play. But some are blatant, and some they just have their hands on you. That's why you always want to lead with your hand and hit them so you can keep them away from you. And then if they do hold you, it's clear as day to the officials."

-- Smith

"If you let them inside of your body, it's your fault."

-- Ninkovich

"Once you beat a tackle and you're heading toward the quarterback, the first thing is, 'Does the quarterback see me?' Because sometimes you're thinking, 'OK, I know he sees me.' And you're waiting for him to make his move, but he doesn't see you. Then it's like, 'OK, is somebody going to pick me up?' Because especially if you come free, it's like, 'Oh, somebody's got to come. Somebody's going to hit me.' But once all that passes and you hit the quarterback, that's the ultimate. Everybody's cheering and it's crazy and you get up and you're celebrating. It's wonderful."

-- Cooper

"It's a wonderful feeling. It's just a rush. Like bungee jumping. A lot of people say they won't do it, but once they do it that first time, it's just a continuous rush."
-- Grant

"My main concern is making sure I get there in enough time. Then if I get there, and I realize, 'OK, I'm going to get the sack,' then maybe I might wait for him to put his arm up so I can swipe it down and try to get a fumble. . . . And then try to recover it so I can get a trifecta."

-- Smith

"If you miss him? Ahhhh. It's the worst. Because either you got juked by the quarterback or you ran straight past him. And you know everybody saw it. And you don't want to go to the sideline. And then you've got the coach coming over. . . . It's just a lonely feeling. It's terrible."

-- Cooper

"It's a sucker punch. I've got to deal with all the fellas then."

-- Grant
"It's definitely something where when you watch the film, you just put your head down. . . . But at least it's good to know that you got around the guy and got the penetration. So at least the quarterback's thinking, 'This guys is coming. He could have just killed me.' "
-- Smith

"I don't say much. I don't have to if I play my game. My actions speak louder than my words."

-- Cooper

"I talk to everybody. I usually try to find dirt on an opponent."

-- Grant

"Some guys you have better success with. And then the guys that you maybe didn't play as well against before, you want to step your game up and come at them again, and make sure they remember you at the end of the game. "

-- Smith

"I don't say much to the tackles. Most of the time, they don't really talk that much. But if a guy is a habitual holder or he's hanging on for his life, then I'm going to start talking trash to him."

-- Ninkovich

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Old 09-05-2007, 05:56 PM   #3
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Re: Saints' defensive ends not to be taken lightly

Great article, Hagan. That was a fun read.
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