New Orleans Saints QB
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Aaron Kromer said practice today was much faster and more relaxed as you get ready for Green Bay this week. Was that how it felt from a player’s perspective?
“Yes, I thought preparation was good today starting with meetings this morning and just the mindset, getting outside and on the grass and running around a little bit, putting that base install in. I thought today was very productive.”
You were outspoken on Monday following the Green Bay-Seattle game about the referees. Do you have any comments about getting the regular officials back?
“No, I guess I heard the talks are ongoing. It seems like things are close. I think that’s great.”
As far as your comments on Monday and then seeing what happened that night, did that push it even further?
“I’d say that the headlines that came out Monday, which was Brees bashes replacement officials, is not entirely accurate. It was more a challenge to the league to resolve the matter and the fact that you feel like they obviously hold a great responsibility in making sure that that’s done properly. I’ve been at the bargaining table before with our lockout situation a year and a half ago, so I know what that’s like. It takes both sides to come to a resolution and there needs to be compromise. I guess it was fitting that that evening we all saw what happened and I don’t think we need to re-visit that. I think the fact is, for me, and regardless of whether right now, and I stated this on Monday but I’m not sure if it got reported, but the first thing I said, because I talked to a few different people - to be honest with you I never heard the audio or anything that was stated so I don’t know exactly what was stated - but I know I talked to about three different outlets and basically said the same thing, and that was first of all (there are) no excuses for our play and (we) only worry about the things that we can control, and that is just going out, preparing each week and just playing, and also the fact that these replacement officials have been put in a really tough position, because they’re not qualified with the instincts and everything else to be out there with the speed of the game. The level of play is just not fair to them. They’re doing the best they can. That’s what I said. I don’t know if it got reported that way. I don’t think it did. The fact that everybody is getting together, it seems like they’re close to a resolution, is a good thing. To be honest with you, I have compartmentalized that. So regardless of what happens, that’s not my thought process. It’s about how I can prepare to help this team win. If there are replacement officials out there, so be it, we still play the game the same way. If it’s the other officials, then so be it, we’re still going to play the game the same way.”
How important is it to you that you’re approaching the chance to tie Johnny Unitas’ record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass?
“When you say that name Johnny Unitas, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, certainly his accomplishments speak for themselves and one of the pioneers of this game, to even be in the realm of a record that he’s held for a long time, it’s an honor. It’s humbling. Obviously we’re not there yet, but I focus on my job. I focus on what I need to do to help our team win. Usually that stuff just takes care of itself.”
When you look at the first three games, what have you seen in the drop-off in the passing game that we’re used to seeing?
“I think it’s a combination of everything. It’s not just one thing here and there. I think it’s everybody’s ability to just do things a little bit better. I’d say the more time that we get continually in practice with the game plan, execution, all those things, it just hasn’t been as crisp as it normally is and as we’re used to, and we’re getting on top of that.”
“Zach is a captain. He’s a leader certainly for this team and the offense. He’s a guy that when he speaks, people listen. I think it takes a man to come out and want to shoulder that responsibility. That’s why he’s one of our leaders, why I have so much respect for him and (that) we do as a team. The fact of the matter is it wasn’t Zach Strief. It was a combination of everyone. Everybody on that offense has to hold themselves accountable for what happened out there in the fourth quarter and our inability to finish that game. I think it shows a good message to our team that even a guy who’s a captain, who’s a mainstay on that offensive line, is willing to call himself out and say – hey, I have to play better – because we all could play better.”
Has it been more unusual this season that more people haven’t been open to throw to?
“Like I said, it’s been a combination of a lot of things. I can’t really say it’s just one thing. There are times where there’s good protection and we’re just not able to get open, or I miss a guy, or there’s a breakdown and we’re not able to get the ball where we needed to, or we get a penalty and we put ourselves in a third-and-long, or there’s a critical third down and we don’t take advantage of an opportunity, we drop a pass, I don’t hit the open guy, or whatever it is. It just happens that ten guys can be doing their job and then there’s one mental error, there’s one mistake or just one whatever it might be and that causes a drive to stop. It sounds like a small thing, but in the end too many of those end up losing you games.”
This past game, would you have considered it a very successful offensive performance up until that interception?
“I wouldn’t call it a very successful game. I felt like we had our moments in those first three quarters where we were moving the football. I felt like we had the tempo and rhythm that we’re used to around here; but no, not all the way.”
Do players get caught up in going to Lambeau Field, or does every road trip feel the same?
“I know the way I feel. I relish these opportunities to go places like that. I’ll give you an example. When I played for the Chargers, going to Arrowhead Stadium, which we did once a year in the AFC West, that was always a thrill. Just feeling like that was one of those legendary places to play. Obviously Lambeau is another one of those hallow grounds so to speak for football. I do love those opportunities to go places like that where there’s so much history and tradition. It’s a part of our games and just makes you appreciate the situation you’re in.”
Green Bay is being asked all about what happened on Monday night. Is there any validity to the argument that it could be a distraction for the Packers heading into this game?
“I hope so, but no. I doubt it. They’re a great organization. They’re extremely well-coached. They’re used to success so they know how to handle tough situations. I’m sure that’s been talked about and addressed just like we’re doing it in our own way here underneath the circumstances that we’re in.”
In the third and fourth quarters, you guys were ahead at one time. Do you think there was a conscious effort to run the ball?
“First of all, we really didn’t run that many plays. It’s not like we got that many opportunities. The type of defense we were getting was they had an extra man at the line of scrimmage to stop the run and were almost challenging us to throw it, so we were throwing it. Unfortunately we just weren’t getting the job done either way.”
The fourth quarter hasn’t been the same success for you guys that we’ve seen in the past. Can you talk about why you think the fourth quarter has been so tough?
“We’ve trailed by 15 points in two out of those three (games), so the mindset becomes a little different and you’re chucking it trying to play catch up. That’s not the situation you’d like to be in. You’d like to be in a situation where the game’s tight and you’re pulling away or you have a lead and you’re able to go out there and still execute your offense with balance and finish the game the way you want to finish it on your own terms with you on the field and not your defense and take a knee at the end. We like those games. We just haven’t put ourselves in a position, at least in those first two games, to do that. Then in this last game, I said it after the game, the momentum just shifted and offensively it was our job to go get that momentum back and we didn’t.”
Are there any things in recent games that it would have been nice to have Sean Payton there to bounce an idea off of or anything like that?
“Of course, but he’s not so we shouldn’t waste our time talking about it.”
Has your tempo and rhythm been affected at all by the replacement officials with their trouble spotting the ball or the length of time it takes to reverse calls on the field?
“Since you asked me the question, I’d like to be able to answer it without there being a headline that says Brees complains about pace of game. Truthfully, it does seem like there are a lot of clock stoppages, whether it’s timeouts or it’s to take a look at this play or that play. I know there are certain rule changes with every scoring play or every turnover or things like that are going to be reviewed, or a controversial play inside of two minutes. (It’s) odd that there would be that many reversals in one game. Obviously that’s typically not the way it is, but occasionally you do have those games. Yeah, it does seem, and I don’t know what the statistics show in regards to the amount of times it’s taking for games to be played, but as a result of those things I believe it’s taking a little bit longer.”
Can you talk about Aaron Rodgers and your relationship with him?
“I’ve known Aaron for a few years. He has an offseason home in San Diego just like I do, so I’ll see him around there every now and then, and at different events and that kind of thing. We trained together for a little bit back a couple years back in San Diego actually. I have a lot of respect for Aaron Rodgers. I think he’s a tremendous quarterback. I think what he did last year was phenomenal, I mean it was unbelievable. Just watching him on film, it just seemed like we had similar opponents, or just watching him as a fan, trying to pick something up, it was extremely impressive. I appreciate the road he’s traveled, too. It’s not like he kind of rode into the league on a white horse and they just handed it all over to him. He had to buy time behind Brett Favre and then obviously step into some pretty big shoes when Favre stepped away and just continue to get better and better each year. All of a sudden, he’s one of the premier quarterbacks in this league and probably will go down as one of the best if he continues on the pace he’s on. I definitely appreciate what he’s been able to do. When you know he’s on the other side of the ball, it makes you feel like you have to be at your absolute best.”
After the Kansas City game, you said everyone had a list of things to do to move ahead with accountability. Have you seen that improvement heading into this week?
“Yes. Unfortunately, we lost this last game and really had a pitiful fourth quarter, but if you look at the strides that we’ve made each game, I feel we’ve gotten better. We’ve had our moments. We haven’t put it all together yet, but we’re getting close to where we want to be, where we know we can be and should be and will be. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been good enough to win yet. I like the direction we’re going and winning heals all wounds. It’s easier to come in after a win and correct mistakes than it is to come in and say that this cost us the game. That’s hard to swallow. That’s hard to realize at times, but then again it’s a hard game and it’s hard to win. In the end, I think we’re going to be better off for it, but we need a win.”