This morning A.J. Smith did a radio interview and discussed a variety of topics. You listen to it here or by going to XX1090's website, however I've summarized his answers below. Take a few minutes to read and/or listen and let us know what you think of the "new", more accessible A.J. Smith.
- Free Agency: Had a plan, called it Phase 1. They executed hard and they executed quick. Into phase 2, but letting the market settle. Waiting for prices to come down on players. Have groups of player possibilities (option a, b, c, etc) at certain positions.
- Fans' opinions of his work: Understands that the fans are knowledgeable and play GM. He likes it, makes the sport great.
- Offensive line: It was "killing him, losing sleep" over the offensive line. The potential retirements, the free agents, got fortunate with Hardwick. Left tackle was the big thing, but that worked out too.
- Eddie Royal: Had a "little star" next to the Eddie Royal move. Wanted to bring in 2 new receivers for Philip to work with. Royal was a "double move" in that he returns kicks/plays special teams. Thinks he's a weapon for Philip.
- Backup QBs: Comfortable with Whitehurst as a 2nd string QB. They would've let him become a 2 if Volek hadn't accepted an extension a few years back. Traded him because the deal was too good to refuse. Vague about whether he'd add a 3rd QB. Reading between the lines, it seems to be a thing of the past.
- Reaction to Manning going to Denver: "Not real thrilled" about him being plopped in our division. Mentions that there are questions, but would think that he's been checked out. "Monumental job" competing against him. First thing that jumps to A.J.'s mind facing Manning is to have a prolific offense. Keep him off the field. Still working on defense, but wants that healthy, prolific offense.
- Kickers: Will keep two kickers probably until final cuts. Wants the protection against injury.
- Goodell and the Saints: Explained how he interprets Goodell's judgment on the Saints. Sees it as Goodell making teams respect the rules, respect "the shield" and be honest with the commissioner's office. Didn't say whether he agreed or not, but he made it clear how he interprets how Goodell deals with these types of issues.
- Leaning towards offense or defense in the draft?
I don't which way I'm leaning yet. It's much too early... right now we're evaluating players and we're still doing that... we'll come back and rank all of the players... have our meetings. The easiest and the best part is once you know the players that are outstanding, by our organization, then you simply look at your team and you match that talent level in college to your team and decisions naturally unfold right before your eyes. In about three or four days prior the draft where we will turn around and find out what do we want to do for changes. And you know how I talk about clusters, let's say it's 5 to 7 guys in the first round at 18, Who are those people? Where are they going to play? Whose job are they going to take? Or if they aren't going to take someone's job, is there a one year transition? So, I don't think about that all the time. I have preliminary thoughts, but until that talent base is evaluated that's when its over and decision time.
- Pressing need for the draft?
I don't have a #1 pressing need until I know how great the players are in college. That's where it comes. Where are the great players? And I will match that any position on this football team. Defense is something we need to fix. Not only front liners, but backups. Mainly backups. That come in there and fill in and play hard and hopefully keep health and raise our level on a consistent basis. We think special teams has jumped up there and will continue. We've had some injuries on offense, we've made some moves to keep that. The whole thing has to be in balance. But, that one stat... when you're last in the National Football League, for whatever reason, and you can't get off the field, its not going to happen for you. And we need to fix that statistic that we can all see. And if you have good players, and we have a new coordinator, you raise that level of the defense as a unit, the team wins... One position we've been looking at... Strong Safety... The search is on for strong safety.
- Quentin Jammer: He is not moving to strong safety. "Not even on our radar. He's a corner for us and a starting corner."