Q&A with Saints linebacker Jon Vilma. Interview by Dewey Hammond.
Q: Talk about your first loss of the season.
A: It was a tough loss, but the Falcons are a good team, they get paid just like we do. I didn’t feel like we should’ve lost the game, but it is what it is and we’ve got to regroup. It’s a long season.
Q: What do you say to the kicker in the locker room after he misses a game-winning FG attempt?
A: There is really not much to approach him on. It’s not like he tried to miss the kick. I’m sure there were plays were I didn’t play as well as I would’ve liked. I’m sure I missed a tackle, missed a play here or there, and it’s no different with a kicker. Unfortunately with his position it’s all the glory or all the criticism. That time he did miss it, and in the locker room you’ve got to pick him up. He is our teammate we’re going to support our teammates 100 percent. It’s unfortunate that he missed that kick, but I’m sure he’ll get it the next time.
Q: What do you expect from the Carolina Panthers (0-3) this weekend?
A: I expect another dog fight. They have two very good running backs in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. They’re going to try to run the ball a lot, not put their rookie quarterback in tough situations. It’s going to be another close game, just like all division games. They’re always close. They’re always tough. It’s going to come down to who makes the play here or there, who makes the most plays at the end of the game.
Q: As a rookie QB you know Jimmy Clausen will make mistakes. How will you capitalize?
A: It’s easy. You keep the pressure on him. If he throws us one, make sure you catch the ball. If he fumbles, make sure you get the ball. Keep it simple. Mental pressure, physical pressure. With mental pressure it’s disguising things, and with the physical pressure it’s getting him to the ground. Once the ball comes out we have every bit as much right to it as the offense. It’s as much our ball as it is theirs, so we have to get after it. We need to keep the pressure on him for 60 minutes, force him into some mistakes, and it’ll be good for us.
Q: You mentioned mental pressure. If you jaw in the ear of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, you're probably not going to get into their heads, but a rookie like Jimmy Clausen is a different story. Do you talk to opposing QBs during games?
A: Me personally, I let my playing do the talking. There are guys on my team who will say a little something, and I’m all for it, but it’s not really my style. Especially with a young guy. He’s already scared enough so I don’t need to talk trash to get him any more scared. I just need to keep getting after him and getting hits on him. Get that ball out. I’m cool with that. I don’t need to talk.
Q: Panthers linebacker Jon Beason is one of the linebackers who you've mentioned over the past couple years as a guy whose game you not only respect but also study. What does he bring to the Carolina D?
A: He’s a great linebacker. He brings toughness, nastiness, to the defense. He brings speed. You’re not going to run away from him. He’s going to make plays all over the field. Jon Beason is one of those unique backers who will stay on the field for all three downs. He’s very explosive and can make any play on the field: interception down the field, sack, forced fumble, whatever it is. A guy like him really brings that toughness to the Carolina defense.
Q: He and you were at The U at the same time, right?
A: I think I was two years ahead of him.
Q: Will you speak with him this week?
A: Oh yeah, but probably not during the week. I like to talk to him after each game to see how he did, and just to talk football. I also like to hear his vantage point of the teams he’s playing because we play most of the teams he does, so I like to hear his thoughts on the opposition.
Q: Who is the unheralded hero of the Carolina Panthers offense?
A: Tackle Jordan Gross is by far one of the best tackles in the NFL. He’s a consistent Pro Bowler. He gets it done for them. They need a yard, they’re going to run behind him. They need protection, they make sure he’s got it locked up.
Q: What have you learned from your past matchups against the Panthers?
A: That it’s going to be a close game, and that they’re not going to back down regardless of the score. We’re going to have to really earn it to get that victory.
Q: What do you say in the huddle this week after an emotional loss like the one you suffered last week?
A: It always changes depending on the attitude and vibe of my teammates. If there is nothing to be said, there is nothing to be said. I know nine out of 10 guys feel like I feel, and can’t wait to get back out there on Sunday. If I’m feeling that energy, there is nothing to be said. It’s Sunday again, let’s get going.
Q: Do you anticipate your D-coordinator Gregg Williams will throw an extra guy in the box to put more pressure on Jimmy Clausen to beat you with his arm?
A: If Greg decides to put an extra guy in the box, I’m assuming that’s good, but that means you’ve got one less guy in the secondary, and you don’t really want a receiver you’ve never heard of going for 100-plus yards. That could end up being the reason we lose. But if Greg decides we need an extra man, that’s exactly what we’ll do.
Q: What do you need to do to win this weekend?
A: Stop the run, get off the field on third down, and create some turnovers.