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Gruden Interview

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; NewOrleansSaints.com Q: Can you talk about where you guys are at right now? A: "Obviously we're obviously very disappointed at being 5-7. We're also very excited at the opportunity to compete with a team that has beaten us three consecutive ...

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Old 12-05-2003, 09:11 AM   #1
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Gruden Interview

NewOrleansSaints.com


Q: Can you talk about where you guys are at right now?
A: "Obviously we're obviously very disappointed at being 5-7. We're also very excited at the opportunity to compete with a team that has beaten us three consecutive times. It will be a great challenge for us. We're obviously very disappointed at where we sit at this time, but our preparation and planning is to be at our very best and see if we can get a win on Sunday."

Q: How tough is it to put aside talk about how the buzzards are circling over the team?
A: "It's difficult if you sit around and listen to sports radio and read all the columns by all the columnists because you will obviously read and hear some negative things. We're anxious to get ourselves ready to play. You got to take the good and the bad in this business. There's a lot of teams that have qualified for the playoffs that are in similar straits that we're in for various reasons and we got to finish the season strong, try to gain some momentum, maybe catch a few breaks and see what happens."

Q: What is your explanation about New Orleans' record against Tampa Bay and how much does it motivate your players?
A: "I think it's a great motivator. Anytime you compete with a team that has had your number, that's a great motivator. I was associated a little bit with that in Oakland. We had struggled against the Kansas City Chiefs for a period of years. It's a great motivator. Certainly it's a great advantage to yourselves and New Orleans when you know it has success against a team. It works both ways."

Q: You don't buy into the theory that it's tough to be a team two times in a row in the same season?
A: "It's hard to beat a team period, the way I see the NFL these days, so conference games, it's hard to get a sweep, familiarity, the rivalries that are forming between all the NFC South teams are starting to take hold and that's exciting for our conference."

Q: What happened Sunday after you seemed to get a lift from beating the Giants?
A: "I'll tell you, the Jaguars, although they're 2-9, have been in a lot of games like we've been, I believe four games on the last play of the game. They're a very physical defensive team once again. We have horrific field position. We missed a field goal and we really did not play as well as we think we can play. Injuries, yes we think they do have something to do with it, but they physically took it to us and were able to come out there with a win and for that we're very discouraged. It shows some clear signs that we have a lot of work to do here."

Q: Your team has been leading or been tied going into the fourth quarter in 12 of these games. Have you put your finger on what has been in the fourth quarter struggles?
A: "No, I think you make a good point there. We've talked about closers, whether it's the ninth inning reliever, who wants the last shot in the basketball game, what are you going to do after you fight for 14 rounds? What are you going to do in the 15th round? The big thing that we have struggled more so than with the final three and final five minutes of games, we have not started games and got a lead and forced teams to play catch up against a team that has defensed the pass very well, but we're looking at every aspect of our play. We've struggled significantly with special teams, creating field position for the offense and obviously we've given up some heartbreaking scores, inside of two minutes. We're working hard to correct it. We miss Brian Kelly. We're missing some key defenders. At the same time, we got to respond in those situations."

Q: It seems like this year more than ever throughout the league, there is more inconsistency than ever before. Do you agree with that?
A: "I think it's been that way the last three or four years. I don't think anybody picked us with 29 new players last year to win the Super Bowl. I don't know who picked New England the year before that or the Ravens the year before that or the Rams the year before that. It's such a radical league in terms of who's up, who's down, the salary cap, all the change in rosters with free agency has a lot to do with that. We just re-aligned conferences and at the same time, when you lose a couple players to injury, it's hard to replace a ballplayer. It's very hard in these modern times."

Q: It seems that you have very much an up and down team. Is it because of free agency?
A: "It's part of it I think. I also think there's a lot of parity. The draft is set up a certain way. They've gone, several years ago they reduced it to seven rounds. Free agency and the salary cap situations play a significant role in modern football and the bottom line is there is a lot of parity between the teams that aren't really good or are really average, depending on how you look at it. Anybody can beat anybody and a lot of these games can be decided by two, three, or four plays and a lot of the time if the other team makes those plays there's a good chance you don't win the game. We won these games last year that we're talking about having lost this year. We were criticized as being the ugliest team in the history of football and we just got to find ways to win in the end. I think what you're seeing in the league is a lot of parity and with that comes some spontaneous changes in the standings."

Q: Has the parity nowadays made everybody average, whereas a few years ago, it made everybody pretty good?
A: "There's not as much option. There's more teams playing football now and players, the acquisition of players becomes more difficult. Look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That's the only team I can be an expert of because that's the only team I spend my time on. We have given up some draft picks for players. We've given up players for compensation reasons. We've lost the opportunity to maybe acquire some young talent in the last four or five years and it's probably hurt us a little bit. Some teams have taken advantage of those picks in those situations and they have risen to the top a little bit because of it. A lot of it is free agency and draft and hitting and missing on picks."

Q: Can you discuss the corner situation with Tim Wansley out?
A: "We'll move Dwight Smith, a guy who has played a lot of corner for us. We'll move him from safety back to the corner position. Obviously we'll start Jermaine Phillips, a guy who we think is a promising safety inside with John Lynch, but it impacts us. It does. We lost Brian Kelly for the year, a guy who led the NFC in interceptions and obviously losing Tim Wansley is not a good thing for us."

Q: Has Anthony McFarland's play lived up to the numbers of his contract extension?
A: "I'll tell you, on the sack totals, you could say you know what, he's capable of playing better. I think this guy's a great football player. I really believe that he will back up the extension that he has received, but it's been not just an individual collapse by any player on our defense. It's been accumulation of a lot of things, starting with losing Shelton Quarles for seven games as our middle linebacker, Brian Kelly. Strategies change. We lost Dexter Jackson and Al Singleton to free agency. All of those things impact the structure to what we are used to playing."

Q: Does the injuries affect your game plan?
A: "It does and just like New Orleans got off to a very sluggish start this season, here is a team that made tremendous changes on their team in free agency with Tebucky Jones and (Derrick) Rodgers and getting Johnathan Sullivan in the draft. They acquired a lot of new men in their football team and I think what you're seeing is a team that is starting to gel together. They have been able for the most part to stay away from injuries, although they did have the casualty with Grady (Jackson), but things happen in this business."

Q: What are your impressions of Deuce McAllister and have you seen a guy get on a roll like this before?
A: "Jiminy Christmas, is he on a roll man, he is something else. He has just great finishing plays. When you watch Deuce McAllister and you look at the scoreboard and you see it's second and five, you say, my God, how did he make five yards. He moves the pile. He makes physical, manmade yardage on every run. When he has daylight, he has finishing speed. He's a superstar back as far as I'm concerned in the NFL and we got to do a much better job of containing him."

Q: Is he having an MVP type of year?
A: "If he's not an MVP candidate, I don't know who is, if there's a guy that's playing hotter, better. We've seen a back in Carolina. Obviously there are some players I'm not sure about because I'm not the worldly person in terms of other teams. As far as I've seen this year, this guy is as good a player as anyone in football."

Q: Your team is 5-7 and the Saints are 6-6, but the atmospheres at the two camps seem totally different. How much do you think expectations have to do with what you're dealing with this year?
A: "There's no question, if you want to be a deep philosophical man, you could drive yourself crazy. We beat Philadelphia, in Philadelphia, on the road to start the season with grand style. We lost Mike Alstott, Joe Jurevicius for the season in the following game on the same play against Carolina. Lightning strikes for a while. If you're a weatherman, you'd understand that sometimes there are disasters, but no one's dead here. No one's dead. There are buzzards hanging around one Buccaneer Place, but we're going to fight and we just got to put together 60 minutes of great football and try in New Orleans."
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