Saunders Media Session

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Offensive coordinator Al Saunders

Q: How important is ball security this week against a team that has 27 takeaways, 23 interceptions?

Coach Saunders: Yeah what, they have recovered four fumbles and 23 interceptions? That's a remarkable effort and ball security is always the thing that you say going into the game that you have to make sure that you perform at a high level offensively. I think probably the most reflective stat in any game, at the end of the game, is turnover ratio. Teams that typically have a better ratio in turnovers are usually the more successful teams in the league and so it is very, very important for us this week to hold on to the football in both the pass and the run game.

Q: What is the key to them picking off so many passes; is it just great individual players or just…?

Coach Saunders: Well I think one thing is probably they have had the ball thrown on them a lot more than anybody else because of the nature of the scores and I think people when they go in and play a team like Green Bay, you feel an urgency to score points on the board and usually the way to do that in the National Football League is, most people would think, is to throw it. So, you have more plays and more opportunities and they do a terrific job of their coverages. Collectively, they are outstanding. They have some outstanding individuals, but as a defensive unit, they play with patience. They really are a patient group and they create turnover opportunities by the different kinds of coverage and the blitzes that they bring. Dom [Capers] has always been a multiple blitz guy and he has done a terrific job of orchestrating that defense, and they take advantage of the situations that are presented to them.

Q: How about the pressure that the offense feels when you are playing a team with an offense like Green Bay's, do you feel a pressure to keep up?

Coach Saunders: Well, I don't know if it's necessarily reflected on the offensive unit as such. I think you feel that way all the time that you want to be as successful as you possibly can be. I think the urgency is for us to perform at the best level that we can perform at and be consistent. Not turn the ball over, convert third downs, score in the red zone, and take advantage of your opportunities as they present themselves.

Q: Some teams would feel like well, maybe they go for it on fourth down earlier in the game because we don't really want to punt the ball back to that prolific offense. I mean do you take more chances in a situation like this?

Coach Saunders: Yeah, maybe some people would. I don't know if that is necessary until the score of the game kind of dictates that you do that. I think it is like any other football game and any other football team – you play as the environment and the situation presents itself. So, you would like to be able to run the ball effectively, you'd like to be able to be balanced, you would like to be able to convert when you do have the football, and if you don't and you get behind in the game then obviously you would do that in any other game also. So, it's not just Green Bay. It is probably the scenario that unfolds as the game unfolds itself.

Q: Seems if you can get after these guys with the run; they are giving up 4.8 or 4.9. Is they key keeping the game close enough to where you are able to run the ball, not fall behind by a lot where you have to get away from the run?

Coach Saunders: Well, there is no question. I think our offense is built around running the football, and our players know that, and we feel that we have not run the football as successfully or as frequently as we would have liked to probably in the last couple of weeks. We have to get back to that because that is what we are. We are at our best when we are running the football effectively and when you do that, it certainly allows your play-action passing game and the receivers that we have on the perimeter to get some one-on-one match-ups. You want to create an opportunity for your perimeter people to allow them to have success and if you are not running the football very well, then all of a sudden you are getting an obvious passing situations. Then, the advantage goes to the defense and this is a defense that you don't want that to happen with because that is what they have taken advantage of with other teams and created turnovers in their favor.

Q: I think you were coaching against [Charles] Woodson in his first game he ever played with the Chiefs? Were you with them in '98?  

Coach Saunders: I was. Yeah, I sure was.

Q:Alright, that was the first game and you guys went after him in that game. I think it was [Andre] Rizon had a couple of catches, pass interference. How far has he come as a player?

Coach Saunders: Oh gosh, he is the premier corner in the National Football League in some people's eyes. He had a lot of talent when he was here, he has had a lot of talent when he was in Michigan, he has had a lot of talent wherever he has been because that is what he has. He is a terrific football player for sure and we are very respectful of his career and respectful of the talent that he does have.

Q: So, you're probably not going to go after him in this game the way you did that night?

Coach Saunders: Well, it's been a long time since Woodson's been a rookie.

Q: When you look at their coverage, do they almost bait the quarterback into making a throw? I mean they are so good at closing in late and getting interceptions…  

Coach Saunders: Well, they play a lot of zone. They are predominantly a zone team and they react to the ball very well. They are a soft cushion team and when the ball is thrown and it doesn't go to its primary receiver because they do a lot of things from a disguise standpoint, they have a variety of coverages, they give you a lot of different looks. The zone blitz package is always a package that gives quarterbacks some issues in terms of recognition and so often times, it's the mistakes that the offense makes in their ability to react to those things that allow them to be successful.

Q: [Clay] Matthews a guy you have to know where he is every play? I saw he picked off a pass and returned it this last game…

Coach Saunders: Yeah, a lot of people probably wish they would have known where he was on the draft board [laughs] when he was drafted out of SC. Yeah, but he has been spectacular and he's got some great blood flowing in those veins and he honors his family and the tradition of football and the Green Bay Packers. He is a special, special, player and certainly, you do have to know where he is because he can make a difference. 

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