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Drew Brees: "We have great respect for the New England Patriots"

Posted Oct 9, 2013

Drew Brees talks about facing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees

Post-Practice Media Availability

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Were you surprised that you deferred the opening coin toss in Chicago?

“No. There was some strategy involved in that.”

Care to elaborate? Sean Payton mentioned the wind and the sun.

“Yeah. Wind, sun”

It seems like an offensive team like yourself would want the ball.

“Most of the time we would do that, but that day it just felt like the thing to do.”

Can you talk about Benjamin Watson and his contribution to this team so far?

“He’s been awesome. He’s such a professional, such a pro, in the way he prepares, the way that he practices. (He is) Such a great influence on many of us. Ten-year veteran, he’s played a lot of football. He obviously played for the team we are about to play and won a championship with them in ’04. He’s a guy that has played at a high level for a long time and has been a big contributor everywhere he’s been. I think more so than that, just such a great locker room guy. I can’t say enough good things about him and his family and just the addition that he’s been to our locker room and our team.”

What does it mean to have another guy who has won a Super Bowl with another team in your locker room (Watson)?

“We would say when you look at the teams in the NFL, you talk about one of the most functional organizations that truly know how to win and have a winning formula, you would say the New England Patriots. It would probably be one of the first ones that come to mind. He has been a part of that, so he knows what that looks like, what that feels like, and I’d like to think that we’re that type of organization as well. But, to get his perspective on certain things, there’s just a lot that he can reflect upon that can add to maybe what we’re doing already.”

When there was consideration about bringing Watson in, did Sean or Mickey as you for your opinion on that?

“With Benjamin they actually did. I was actually at our NFLPA annual meetings with Ben at the time, so it just happened to be sort of coincidence. I knew Ben already through the (NFL)PA. Now he’s on the executive committee with me. Everyone who has ever been a teammate of his, Scott Fujita, three years in Cleveland, they were there three years together, had nothing but great things to say about Ben. Just what a solid player he was, person and locker room guy, so it was really a no-brainer.”

With Pierre and Darren producing more so far in the passing game than in the running game, is that fine in this offense?

“Yeah, in a lot of cases we look to the short passing game to serve as an extension of the run. When you’re efficient with the passing game, at times it can serve that purpose a little bit. Now, would we like to be better than we have been at rushing the football in certain situations? Yes, just like we would like to see improvement in a lot of different areas. But, I’d say those guys, from just the sheer standpoint of (their) touches, contributions, the passing game is just as important to them as the run game.”

How well have you gotten to know Tom Brady through the years playing?

“Pretty well. We played against each other in college going back to 1998 when he was at Michigan and I was at Purdue. We’ve only played three times since we’ve been in the NFL, twice when I was in the AFC (Chargers) and this will be twice in the NFC. It’s once every four years when you’re in opposite conferences. Obviously, watching him from afar quite a bit just like a couple of other quarterbacks in the league, just trying to keep up with them and what they’re doing, seeing a little bit in the offseason, and trying to stay in touch.”

I know it’s never you versus him, but how much do you kind of get amped up when you’re playing Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or quarterbacks like that?

“You always prepare the same way. This game is just as important as any other game, but there is definitely a little bit extra when you are playing against a guy of his caliber.”

You thought he was going to break your record, right?

“I had written it off. I thought it was a done deal. Crazy things happen in this league.”

Does that “extra” play into your success against teams like the Patriots in some of those showdown games? I know you talk a lot about the prime time games.

“Yeah, those games mean so much anyway. Just add one more thing, but they’re always important.”

How do you balance football and family during busy times like this?

“It’s always tough during the season, especially when the schedule can change at times. For example, last week when we got out of town on Friday instead of Saturday because that storm was kind of bearing down on us and we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to fly out on Saturday, so you always have to be pretty flexible. The family knows that. We adjust on the run; they adjust on the run. Obviously during the season my wife always says that you belong to football and the team during the season. But obviously having that time for me after practice to be able to put the boys to bed or the Friday afternoons or the Saturdays for home games, those are the special moments. That’s stuff that creates balance in my life and all of our lives. You have to be able to get away from football. You have to be able to get away from the job mentally and clear your head, and there’s no better way than to spend time with the family.”

Have you gotten better at it over the years?

“Absolutely. You find the balance. I know there’s times when I need more of that or whatever it might be. I’ve grown accustomed to knowing what that feels like.”

The 2009 game when you beat the Patriots in the end of November at the Superdome, how much did that night convince you guys that y’all were good enough to win the whole thing?

“Yeah, I’d say that was a huge confidence boost at the time just because we had played a lot of big games against a lot of great teams, but we hadn’t played the Patriots. Like I said before, arguably the Patriots are the team of the decade. Whatever you want to call it, they’ve won more games over the last ten-twelve years than anybody else in the league and three championships. Every year they are a contender. You could look at the way they’re coached and the way that whole organization is run from the top down and you would say they know how to win (and) they have the formula. Anytime you can get on the field against a team like that and play like we did in ’09, it’s a huge confidence boost especially when we knew we were good, but you needed to have yet another test to confirm that. It was a big win for us at the time.”

Do you need that big win this year?

“Oh yeah.”

Is this one of them?

“Absolutely. You’re only as good as your last performance, number one. But, going on the road in a hostile environment like that, listen they’re extremely good at home. They’re like 31-3 or 30-3 in their last three years at home, so they know how to win and know how to win at home. This would be a huge accomplishment for us. We know this is going to be a difficult task, but one that we have to step up to.”

Did Coach Payton give you that number?

“Oh yeah. We are full of numbers and stats and stuff...motivation.”

Jimmy Graham is leading the league in receiving not just for his position, but overall. Do you see him as the best receiver in the league and how does his dominance compare from what you have seen in his progression over a couple of years?

“I see him getting better every game. I love where his head is at. He’s always extremely motivated, but I think he just feels like he’s got a lot to prove each week.”

Why do you think he feels that he has a lot to prove? New Orleans Saints

“He’s always got a chip on his shoulder; that’s just who he is. He plays with a lot of fire and passion and emotion. I love his preparation, I love his toughness, and he just has that attitude of, ‘Give me the ball, and I’ll make a play.’ He likes to be the guy that you look to in critical situations and be the guy who’s going to make the big play. I love that about him. I always want him to keep that attitude and I think that’s where his head is at right now and I hope that continues.”

The team went 7-9 in 2007 and 8-8 the next year. Since then you all have gone 13-3, 11-5, 13-3, and started out 5-0 this year, with last year not withstanding because Sean wasn’t here. Where have you seen Sean grow between the 2008 and 2009 season when everything kind of took off?

“I just know this: ’06 obviously we go to the NFC championship game and then ’07 and ’08 we miss the playoffs. Albeit by a small margin, but you still miss it. I think there was just that sense of urgency going into ’09 like we haven’t accomplished anything yet. Obviously there were some changes made that offseason; you bring in a new defensive coordinator, some free agents, you shake things up a little bit, and it’s a new year, a new team, a new season. We go on and rattle off thirteen straight wins in a row and end up winning a Super Bowl. I think we all grew a lot during that time. That run of thirteen games where, man, every week it’s just a battle and you’re finding all kinds of different ways to win. It’s hard to reflect on just the difference between ’08 and ’09. I mean, from ’06 until now, from two years ago until now, I would just say this about Sean now is that nothing is going unsaid. Nothing is being left undone. In other words, if there’s a point that needs to be made, he’s going to make it. If he sees something he’s going to address it immediately. If there’s a story that he feels like he needs to tell that will give us perspective on the situation we’re in or something that he just feels like is important to communicate, he is going to communicate it. Maybe that’s from missing last year; maybe he just missed being here, being a part of this, being with the guys, being a coach. That’s what coaches do; coaches are teachers. They’re teachers, they’re communicators, they’re mentors, and I know he missed that. But, I would say that’s one of the things he’s doing a great job of and has always done a great job of. I see that this year, man, that nothing is going unsaid.”

Is he different now than he was in 2006?

“Oh yeah. We all are. I mean you’re talking about eight years of experience between then and now. First year as a head coach to now, yeah, but it has all gone this direction (upwards).”

Compare and contrast Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski.

“I mean they’re both big, physical targets. I don’t know Gronk all that well, obviously I know Jimmy very well. But similar size, we all use them in similar ways, you know their offense, our offense. I guess I really don’t know Gronk that well; I just know that he makes a lot of plays and if he’s out there, he’s certainly somebody to be cognizant of where he’s at and what he’s doing.”

How superior is Sean Payton as a play-caller and how is the cadence or the rhythm of how he’s getting in to you give you that mental confidence or get you in that place to do what you have to do as well?

“I think he’s a great play-caller. I think he’s got great instincts. There’s so much communication that happens between us throughout the week and the other coaches and players so that we can anticipate what’s going to happen on game day, what the atmosphere is going to be like, when certain plays are going to get called, and why. So when you can anticipate those kind of things it does give you a lot of confidence because, sure enough, you get in that situation in the game and all of the sudden it’s getting dialed up and we’ve been around each other long enough that I can anticipate a lot of those calls out of his mouth before he makes them. I see the personnel coming in and I say, ‘Here it comes.’ That’s a great feeling to have because you feel like, man, you are on the same page. You’re thinking the way he’s thinking. Those are all great things.”

What is it like to play against a defense coached by Bill Belichick?

“They are always extremely well-coached. They are extremely well-disciplined. They do a great job of getting pressure on the quarterback, getting turnovers. They play very well at home, utilizing that atmosphere. You just know you are going to get a very disciplined, sound defense.”

Is he one of these guys who likes to take away what he thinks your first option is?

“Oh yeah. You know he studies it. He always has a distinct game plan for each team that he’s going up against. He’s going to try to look at your weapons and say, ‘How can we manage these guys or take them away?’ There’s always a plan.”

Did you see or hear about the Frontline concussion documentary?

“I heard about it, I haven’t seen it though.”

With the concussion issues that have come up will you let your three boys play football?

“Yeah at a certain age I think is appropriate.  I think you can be too young to strap on a helmet and go out there.  I think a lot of it is knowing when a kid, a 13 or 14, middle school or high school kid does get dinged or what have you, there are protocols that should be in place.  I think people are more cognizant of it and more aware of it that it is not just ok to leave them in the game or there is concussion education that I think is taking place now more so than ever so that people can know the risks and then know how to detect it and then know the kind of back to play protocol that needs to happen before you put a kid back out there to play.  I’d say that goes for any sport honestly.  Yes, obviously in football, but you are talking lacrosse, you are talking hockey, you are talking women’s soccer, I think that has the second highest rate of concussions among sports.  Every sport has a risk associated with it.  As a parent you just want to understand what those risks are and then know the protocol that needs to take place when something does happen.  When you get a concussion you should be out for a certain amount of time, you should be taking the baseline test or you should have taken the baseline test.  You should go back and take that test again and be cleared by medical professionals before you can play again.  For a kid, honestly it should probably be a week or two or even more.”

Is there an image problem in the NFL?

“I think a lot of it is education.  I think certainly there were mistakes made in the past in regards to what people knew or how it was handled, but as we think about moving forward here and especially when you talk about youth sports, there are protocols that need to be in place and that need to be followed to a tee.  It is obviously very serious stuff.  You see the conditions a lot of retired players are in based upon their experiences with head injuries and concussions from football and other sports and a lot of them are in bad shape and certainly they deserve to be cared for and deserved to be helped and hopefully we can learn a lot from that situation and make it better for those who come after us.”

Is the NFL doing a good enough job with concussions now?

“I think the awareness level has really been brought to the forefront obviously with the concussion lawsuits, with the documentaries and with the other things that have been put out there for the public to see and become aware of.  I think it is all about education and making sure you are following the protocol once it is put in place.”

Is there a Jimmy Graham coverage that you haven’t seen at some point?

“Listen I am sure there is something that everyone can throw at us that we haven’t seen before.  There are a lot of guys to worry about.  Certainly you see a plan that everyone has for Marques Colston, for Jimmy Graham, for Darren Sproles, for these young wide receivers, for different personnel groups and formations.  That is why we try to throw a lot at people and hope that our ability to execute and get in and out of the huddle quickly and do all of those things that that stresses the defense.”

If they try to take Graham away you have plenty of options?

“I always feel that way.  I have a lot of confidence in everybody else so if they take away Jimmy Graham we will have a plan.”

How much are you watching what is going on with the rest of the NFC South?

“We are very early in the season.  There is a lot of football left to be played.  While we are happy to be 5-0, that doesn’t guarantee us anything for this week or the rest of the season.  We know that you look around the league and the tide shifts and changes at any moment for teams and divisions and that sort of thing.  All I know is that all I am worried about is us and if we take care of business that whatever everybody else does won’t matter.  We are always chasing.”

Do you agree that some of the biggest plays Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas have made were passing plays?

“Yeah, they made a ton of big plays in the passing game.  I guess maybe just the memorable ones, there is nothing glamorous in your mind about handing them the ball on the five yard line and them pounding it in the end zone, but when he makes a couple of guys miss on a screen play and he goes to the house or he kinds of tricks somebody, those are exciting and make them a little more memorable.”