Will Smith: Anything Is Possible

Saints defensive end Will Smith understands that it will be hard to stop the Peyton Manning and the Colts, but has confidence that with Drew Brees playing, anything is possible. Smith sheds light on why the Saints are a better defense this year.

Saints DL Will Smith
Thurs., Feb. 4, 2010

(on what has changed since he first faced the Colts in the 2007 season opener)
“I got used to the tempo of the game. The first time we played them, on a Thursday night two years ago, the tempo was pretty fast. We did well against them, and they schemed us a couple of ways which beat us. We have a different defense and different players, and I think we have better matchups this time.”

(on his interaction with Saints fans)
“I’ve had the privilege of meeting a lot of fans when we moved to San Antonio for that year after (Hurricane) Katrina. I am actually still friends with a lot of them to this day. It’s surprising that I didn’t know that they were Saints fans at the time I met them. I don’t think they knew I played, maybe they did. We grew a friendship on a personal level, not on a fan level. We kind of knew what they were going through, and I spoke to them about it. We communicated back and forth. They called me after the NFC Championship Game to congratulate me and tell me how excited they were that the Saints were finally in the Super Bowl and playing well. You never know where you will meet fans. They are all over the place.”

(on the Saints’ defensive pressure)
“The defense is schemed for us to fly around to make plays and get up the field. We blitz a lot, so when you are blitzing, it gives you a lot of one-on-one matchups. We feel that we have pretty good guys that can beat those one-on-ones and get to the quarterback. It also causes a lot of confusion which gives us the ability to fool offensive linemen and the quarterback to think the blitz is coming from somewhere that it’s not. We get a lot of pressure that way.”

(on how defensive coordinator Gregg Williams changed the defensive culture)
“The first process was just him (Gregg Williams) talking to us. He wanted to install a whole entire playbook. That was the first time I’ve ever experienced that. He installed that in OTAs before we even got on the field and ever did anything. We wanted everyone to understand his principles of the defense, how he wanted us to play and what he expected. We watched film on the drills he wanted us to do, and when we got out there, we knew what to expect. And then we just flew around. The biggest thing is that he always made us work hard, do the little things that you forget about when you are a pro athlete. When you pick off the ball, run to the numbers, run it into the end zone and have guys blocking. He tried to make us score and turn us from defense to offense on the field. That’s something we were not able to do in the past. By Gregg coming in and instilling that early in us, he got us to where we are right now.”

(on what head coach Sean Payton means to the Saints)
“He’s meant a lot. When Sean came in, he cleaned house a little bit. He kept the guys that he thought really wanted to be there and wanted to play. He’s brought on a lot of terrific guys, not only great players but great people. He always talked about changing the culture, working hard and doing all of the little things that we hadn’t done in the past, and we hadn’t had any success. The first year he got here, we went to the NFC Championship Game and fell short, but after that everybody knew where he stood and how much he loved the players, the city of New Orleans and being part of the organization. From that point, guys felt his energy. He is kind of calm and relaxed when you see him up here, but when it gets to game day, he feels like he is one of the players. He is fiery, yelling, shouting and ranting, and you know his heart is really in the game. He really wants to see everybody do well.”

(on watching the Saints’ offense during the game)
“We watch those guys a lot. We have a saying in the locker room that with Drew (Brees), anything is possible. He has a great supporting cast with those receivers. The offensive line has been blocking their butts off. We know they can score at any time. Between (Marques) Colston and Reggie (Bush), (Robert) Meachem and Devery (Henderson) – all of those guys are big-play guys. Anytime could be a touchdown, and a lot of times when we come off the field from a three-and-out, and we are sitting down to try and catch our breath, two or three plays later they score a touchdown. Now we have to hurry up and get back on the field and get ready. It’s exciting to be a part of that and see all of those great plays made.”

(on Sean Payton’s balance between business and fun)
“I would call him a player’s coach. Sometimes he thinks he’s a player, even though he really never had a chance to play. He thinks that he is the quarterback out there a lot of times, which he is, but he’s not the guy on the field. He loves being around the players, he loves to interact, but at the same time, he keeps that distance as the head coach and has to operate everything around him. We love seeing him because he always does something that intrigues and motivates us. I don’t know how he got to the (team) hotel so early, because I knew he was on the plane, but he got to the hotel before everybody else did and put his bellman’s coat on. He was getting everybody’s bags, and we thought it was pretty cool and funny. He is a funny guy when he is not so serious.”

(on his relentless attitude on the field)
“I have always been a relentless player in college at Ohio State. My coaches always instilled in us to work hard and finish each play. It was part of the reason why I got drafted was because that was on my scouting report. I just carried it over. I like to play hard and put myself in every play. Sometimes it’s difficult when teams scheme around you, chip you, and stuff like that. You can’t just give up on the play; you have to fight through it and continue to go. That is one of the reasons why we’ve been so successful this year. Not only am I relentless, the rest of the defensive line and the defense are relentless. The guys never think that they are out of the play, and we try to run to the ball and make every tackle we can.”

(on the Saints’ biggest challenge on Sunday)
“The biggest challenge is getting used to the tempo of the game. Everybody is going to be fired up that it’s the Super Bowl, so I just have to control my emotions, not use too much energy too early, try to stay focused on the goal at hand, the game plan and try not to get sidetracked. I think we’ve been working pretty well to try to eliminate all of the distractions. There are going to be distractions during the game: media all over the field, people all over the sidelines and the National Anthem. It’s going to be a long time when we get to the stadium before we actually get on the field and play. We can’t burn ourselves out, we have to stay focused, get ready to play and not use too much energy.”

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