Defensive coordinator Dean Pees took questions this afternoon on the Patriots’ loss to the New Orleans Saints Monday night. Here’s the full transcript.
What happened to the defense on that 75-yard touchdown pass? It seemed pretty unusual for this defense.
Dean Pees: “We just had a blown call, and it is. It was disappointing yesterday because it wasn’t exactly a call that was a new call. It’s something that we have done numerous, numerous times and we just had a player just…the communication was even there. We even actually had the communication and for whatever reason, he froze and it happened. So it is rare and we’ve been doing a pretty good job in the past of not allowing big plays. And the biggest problem in this game was, I mean, that’s all we gave up. We knew this was a team that thrived on that and you couldn’t allow that. That’s how they…I mean, they live for big plays. That’s how they beat people and it was very disappointing. In eight plays we gave up over 300 yards of offense. You can’t do that against anybody, but especially against a team like the Saints.”
[On whether a young defense is having trouble putting bad plays behind them and whether younger leaders need to step up to get the team back on track]
Pees: “Well, I think the fact that we’re a young defense shouldn’t be a factor anymore. We’re 11 games into the season plus four preseason games. There comes a point in time where I know you may be young in age, but we’ve been out there and played a few teams already this year, so that’s really not the main item excuse for us on defense. We just simply did not execute. We didn’t tackle well. We had more missed assignments than we’ve had in almost all the other previous games combined. I don’t know exactly…I’m trying to find out what the factor was to that so that I can remedy it and fix it as a coach. So you know, I just think we just did not play well, for whatever reason. And like I said, that’s my job to find out what that reason is, but to say that, ‘Well, it’s a young defense and maybe we [were] sitting back on our heels,’ we can’t accept that. Guys just need to pull together and we’ve got to do a better job all the way around. I’m not trying to necessarily avoid what you’re saying; I just don’t buy the fact that…there were things in that game that we did that we just have never done, and it wasn’t necessarily something that, ‘OK, well they tricked us and got us on this play.’ They had a couple plays in there and they’ve got good players and sometimes their guys made plays, like guys will in every game. I mean, they’re professional players. Sometimes they’re going to make it, sometimes you’re not, but there were just some things that were very unusual for us that we have done time and time and time again. Those are the ones that probably bother me the most – when we really have [practiced] something a lot or done it and it’s not new, and we blow it. There’s got to be a reason behind it and I’ve got to get down and find out what that is.”
To follow up on that, a couple Saints guys said they felt like your defense looked a step slower than what they had seen on film and they said they felt their offense had you guys on your heels the whole time. Is there any explaining that – maybe why you guys weren’t playing as fast and how they got you back on your heels?
Pees: “I don’t think…what happens is when you get a team on your heels…that’s kind of a…when I think a team speeds up the tempo and does some things like that, sometimes you can get a team kind of sitting back and doing that. I think what happens a little bit sometimes is you’re not so much on your heels, but when you go out and give up a couple of plays early on, then you start playing a little tentative or you’re thinking or your cautious, and when you do that then you play slower. I think that’s what caught us more than anything else. I don’t think it was the tempo of the game. I don’t think there was necessarily…the formations that they gave us weren’t something that they hadn’t shown before. It was a matter of, I think, when we went out and just like sometimes when you go out and make some successful plays early on in a game, all of sudden you seem like you’re playing a little faster because you’ve made a couple plays and that confidence is there. I think what happens sometimes when you give up plays early, your confidence is kind of shaken a little bit and all of a sudden you feel like you’re playing on your heels, so to speak, and then what happens is you end up playing slower because now you’re worried about it. You’re just not playing and that’s kind of how I saw things happen last night to us. They hit us on some plays that we just are not accustomed to giving up in the particular coverage and things that we were in. And I think it just kind of caught everybody by surprise, and therefore I think we did it again a little later on on a similar situation and it was just not typical of us and I think it caught everybody [off guard]. I think that’s what made us kind of look like we were playing slower because then I think everybody tries to maybe do a little more than what they could. We’re trying to tell these guys, ‘Look, just do your job. There’re 11 guys out there and there are 11 jobs to do and if somebody tries to do somebody else’s job, that’s going to jeopardize your job.’ A little bit of that happened. Guys started [saying], ‘Well I’ve got to make a play and I’ve got to go do this,’ and then that leaves someone else open and we got hit on a couple of those.”
Is it fair to say frustration got the better of some guys last night? The frustration of how things got away from you?
Pees: “I don’t know that…I don’t think it was frustrating. I think it’s frustrating we didn’t make plays on calls that we know that we can make plays on and that we have made plays on before. Everybody is out there to want to win and want to do a good job and trying hard and doing that. I just think sometimes what happens is…I don’t think it’s frustration, I think it’s just that sometimes guys go out of the element of the defense to say, ‘OK, well I’ve got to go make a play’ for whatever reason they’re gaining some yards. You just sometimes need to just kind of let the system work, let it take care of itself and it will do that. We didn’t do that enough, I’ll say that. We’re just inconsistent.”