Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
How much do you see Russell Wilson emulating
“He has tremendous respect for Drew and all that he has done, and (Brees) has always been in the conversation when we talk about what he would like to become, realizing that Drew is a guy of similar stature and has been so successful. He has been a role model for Russell. It has had impact; he listens and studies and competes to learn everything he can. Drew spent some time with him I think at the Pro Bowl. He has watched everything he has ever done; so he has had a big impact on Russell’s play.”
What are you seeing in the Saints offense this year? They might have skipped a beat a little bit last year. Also, how difficult of a challenge is it going to be for you guys to defend
“I think what we’re seeing is just the impact and the chemistry between Sean Payton and Drew Brees in the offense. I think that’s obvious, that Sean is a great coach and he has great command over what they’re doing, (along with) their personnel and how to utilize them. He’s always been great at utilizing special personnel, and I think you’re seeing the benefits of that…world championship benefits not too long ago. That’s what I see the most. As far as Jimmy Graham, he’s all over the place. They know how to use him. He’s an extremely well-versed player in line as a tight end, on the edge when they move him around, and on the outside as well. Their offense is very diverse and connected to their personnel, and it’s really cool to see how they function. It’s going to be hard.”
We have seen Aqib Talib and Patrick Peterson try to defense Jimmy Graham. When you have a cornerback like Richard Sherman, do you put some thought into him trying to defend Jimmy Graham on Monday night?
“Well I could tell you the whole game plan if you’d like me to, but there’s a really good chance I’m not going to because we’re trying to win too (laughter). There’s not much I can tell you about that, but we think he’s a great player and it’s going to take everything we’ve got to try and slow him down. That doesn’t mean you will, even when you’re trying that hard.”
How does having a cornerback like Richard Sherman free up the rest of the defense to do other things?
“Well our corner play has been a central part of our defense and how we do stuff and what we depend on. The other guys can do it as well, and Richard has been a great cog in all of that. Whoever is playing corner for us, they’re in the system and they’re called on to be on that island, to be out there by themselves, to hold up, and Richard has been great and our guys who have played there on the other side have come through. We’ve had three or four guys play over there at one time or another, so it’s all part of the makeup of our defense and Richard has been a great star in all of that.”
How big of a game is this to you? Everybody says it’s just one game, but do you believe this game will make a big difference?
“Every game we play is a championship game. You never know which one is going to be the one that you look back on and say, ‘Boy, if we’d have got that one, we would’ve had this or that.’ We play every one of them like it’s the biggest game in the world. It’s the championship game every time we go. This happens to be against a great opponent and a well-balanced football team and a winning group and all of that. They will pose us all of the challenges of anybody we’ve played, so we’re going to have to play at our best, which is what we try to do every week. So if you’re asking me if this is a bigger game than the others, no it isn’t. It’s the biggest game we can possibly play this week and we’re going to try to make the most of it.”
Other than the crowd, what is the one constant in the 13 game home winning streak for your team?
“Probably the 12th man. I can’t not look at them. I can’t tell you other than that. I think our connection to our fans and the spirit of playing here is…You guys understand it as well. It’s very unique and we’re very fortunate to have it. It’s the combination and the chemistry that connects both the play on the field and the people in the stands that support us.”
Have the Saints defense been able to generate a lot of sacks from the guys on the front four as much as any team in the league this year?
“Yes. When we watched
Obviously you can appreciate good corner play. What have you seen from
“He’s been a real highlight and there’s nothing that he can’t handle. He matched up well with everybody. This is a very, very good team. We can go anywhere you want to go, and they’ve got guys that can make plays and do things. They’re exciting to watch and all of that. We have great respect for them.”
What’s the challenge about not having Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond in your secondary this week?
“Well the challenge is that it’s next guy up. Byron Maxwell has played for us. He played for us during the four-game stretch last year when we didn’t have those guys, and we held together pretty well. He’s been in and around a lot of play already this year. He’s a well-equipped corner; he’s very fast and very long. He’s aggressive; he’s a really good technique guy. We totally can count on him. For us it’s just the next guy up, really. We’ll be excited to see him. Jeremy Lane played last year too when those guys weren’t around. Both those guys come in, I feel confident that they can play good football. They both play in the same style that all of our guys play in.”
Do you ever put on the Marshawn Lynch run from the 2010 playoffs just for the heck of it?
“No I probably watched it so many times in the next couple of weeks or week after (laughter). Unfortunately we didn’t get to keep playing for very long, so we had some chances to go back and watch the highlights.”
How are you feeling about your offensive line unit?
“Well we went about six games without either one of our starting tackles. It might have been longer, I don’t know. Max Unger was out some of that time as well. The first week they all played together since I can’t even remember when was last week. It’s a great sense of excitement about our offense, to have those guys back in the lineup. They’re excited to play. We’re excited to have them back. They know our system better than anybody we were playing with. We were playing with a rookie tackle and a guard playing tackle, so we were struggling a little bit. It is good to have them back, and they’re just kind of rounding back into shape. Hopefully in the next few weeks they’ll be feeling pretty good about their legs and having them underneath them. Their play should improve over the next few weeks.”
How is Percy Harvin rounding back into shape?
“He’s an incredible player with just tremendous dynamics in the things that he can do, and we’re really excited to have him back. It’s still a process of getting him back into the lineup in a steady fashion and all, but he’s such a unique player and we’re very fortunate to have him.”
Conference Call with Local Media
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
How much did you follow Drew Brees growing up and how do you want to emulate him as a young player?
“I followed him a lot. I watched him in his college career and I remember my dad telling me I have to watch this guy, this guy is awesome. And him throwing so many balls against the University of Wisconsin, I remember watching that game. I think he threw 89 passes. That is when I really figured out who Drew Brees was and then he got drafted by the San Diego Chargers. I watched him there. I really, really started following him a lot, studying him, my junior year of college and then also my senior year of college. When I went to Wisconsin I had tons and tons of film on him that I got so I just watched every throw, pretty much, that he had ever thrown for the most part in the NFL. I just really studied him, his footwork, and what he does. I know everyone compares our heights and everything, the thing that I admire about him is his leadership, attention to detail, (and) competitive nature. He is very clutch. He is very poised in big situations. You see that on TV. You see that when you meet him. That is when I really learned a lot about him. Ironically I go to the University of Wisconsin. I leave on July 1 (2011). I take a 17-hour ride to the University of Wisconsin. I don’t get there basically until midnight on July 1, really one o’clock in the morning. I get there and I have this huge Uhaul, this 19 foot Uhaul with a car in the back and my buddies were driving my car. I get there and the street that I pull onto is Brees Street. It is just a crazy connection for whatever reason. I don’t know why, but I love watching him play. He is a great dude. Playing with him in the Pro Bowl was a special moment for me and to really watch him in person and to see how he goes about his business on a daily basis.”
What do you specifically take away from him and how do you apply it to your own game in the NFL?
“I think the intangibles are the first thing. Like I said, his leadership, his attention to detail, his competitive nature, his poise, those are all the things that I recognize as an athlete. As a competitive athlete, I notice those things. I study the game a lot and he is definitely one of the best at that, if not the best. I think the other thing in terms of just all the throws he makes. He is so accurate with the football. He has a purpose with everything he does whether it is his footwork, (or) the type of throw that he is making. He lifts his other players up. He makes the other players better, the other 10 guys in the huddle better. That is what I want to be like one day. It is one of those things. I am a constant work in progress. I have a long ways to go. He is definitely a great person to look up to.”
There is a rumor you used to wear a Saints hat. Is that true or false?
“I used to wear a Saints hat at the University of Wisconsin all the time. I’m a huge fan. I watch them (still). I don’t wear it anymore.”
How is your team running the ball right now?
“It starts with the offensive line and they are moving their feet. They are setting up on blocks. They are doing a great job of being physical. As the game goes on, you usually get those big runs. You are starting off the game getting those three, four, five yards and then Marshawn (Lynch) finds a way to break one. That is what we want to do. We want to be physical. We want to be able to run the football. That is all the time, not just this game, not just a certain game. It is every game. We want to set the tone and that is how we want to play and then play action off of it and do some great things in the passing game and be very explosive. I believe we are the number one maybe team in the NFL in explosive plays and that all starts with the offensive line and being able to run the football.”
What have you seen in the Saints defense?
“Coach (Rob) Ryan is a tremendous coach. He knows what he is doing. He has a plan and goes with it. He has his guys flying around. They are very athletic. You have to give a lot of credit to those guys. They have some young guys stepping up and playing at a high level too. You think about number 32, (Kenny) Vaccaro, but he is doing a great job fitting in and making some plays. There are so many other guys that I could name if you think about the young guys that stepped up and make plays for them and obviously you have the experienced guys who always make big plays. It is just one of those things. They have a lot of talent on the football field all at once. We are going to have to play our A football game. We are going to have to play our A ball and just go out there and stay on course, stay the schedule and complete the game altering plays. If it is throwing it or running it, we have to make those plays.”
Have you noticed Keenan Lewis?
“Yes, he has done a great job, number 28. He has done a great job. He has long arms. He is physical at the line. He makes some plays. I believe he has three picks this year. He has done a great job. He has made some big plays for the Saints when they needed him. You have a lot of respect for him and that whole defense to be honest with you. Their defensive line has done a tremendous job of getting to the quarterback and all of that. We know it is going to be a tough feat. We know we are two top teams in the NFC we believe. It is going to be a great battle. It is going to be a dogfight and we are going to be ready for it.”
How does Coach (Pete) Carroll approach this game? Do you look at it as a really big game?
“I look at it as the next opportunity. You never know how many days you have in this life. It is like one of those things where you have to respect the game. Every game truly is a championship game for us. I think that is when we hit our turning point last year when we really started believing in that as players and coaches and even the fans. But really, the players and coaches, the people in this locker room just believe in that every game does matter. We have to bring our A game every time. That allows us to practice at a high level. That preparation for the week really never changes and it shouldn’t. If you have that mentality, that championship mentality, it really shouldn’t change how you prepare mentally, how you prepare physically, the extra time, the extra work you put in. That is the thing that I have noticed about our football team that past year and a half or whatever is that we have done a great job of that. We’ve continued that. We can’t just step out on the field and expect to win every week. Yeah we have a great talent and coaching staff and do some good things, but at the same time, it is the preparation that separates the teams, separates the player. We know that we are going to have to prepare the best. We have to do everything we can to have that championship mentality. It will be a great game. It’s Monday night, a lot of lights and all that kind of stuff at the same time. It doesn’t matter where we play at. It is 100 yards to 100 yards no matter where we play at, any time, any place, we will be ready. We just have to make sure we prepared that way and have that mindset.”
Do you expect the Saints to be surprised about the environment at CenturyLink Field?
“I’m always kind of surprised about our environment, even myself. I am sure Drew (Brees) will say the same thing about being at home. It is just one of those things. It is unbelievable how intense the fans are. I don’t think they will be surprised. They will know this could be a crazy crowd. They will be prepared. Drew is an experienced quarterback. The rest of their guys are experienced. They have an experienced football team. Coach (Sean) Payton is one of the best coaches in the National Football League. He will have his guys ready. It is a factor. It is real. It is a real factor obviously. New Orleans is one of those other places that is really loud like that too. But there is no place like home. Playing here is a special moment. It is one of those things that is a once in a lifetime thing you have to make sure you go to CenturyLink and watch a game. It really is something special.”
Do you ever watch the Marshawn Lynch touchdown run from the playoff game against the Saints three years ago?
“No we haven’t really thought about that. It is a new year, a new opportunity. Obviously everyone remembers that run. I remember that run. I wasn’t even on the team yet, but I remember that run. We are going to need that type of play from him. We are going to need that physical relentless attitude from him and the rest of the guys too. It is going to be a huge game, but the same time it is a new year. We don’t talk about that now.”
Did you have your Saints hat on that day?
“I probably did. I’m not going to lie. I’ve always kind of liked the Seahawks to be honest with you. I liked the Saints for a pretty good time now. But obviously I am in love with the Seahawks now and playing here is a special place to play. Coach (Pete) Carroll is a tremendous football coach. John Schneider gave me an opportunity, the general manager, and Paul Allen, the owner. It is one of those things where you take one day at a time. You just try to continue to learn, continue to be on that constant quest for knowledge and continue to grow as a football player each and every day.”
How difficult is it to play in cold and rainy conditions as a quarterback?
“I don’t mind playing in the rain. I think for me, I kind of love it to be honest with you. I think that it is one of those things if you have big hands, and I have big hands. That helps a lot being able to grip the football. It is not a nonfactor really for me. Anytime I get to play the game of football, it is a special moment for me and is an opportunity and you just love it.”
What are you seeing out of the Saints safeties?
“They fly around. They are physical. They come downhill and make plays. They find a way to make a big play when they need it. It is going to be one of those games where we really have to understand what we are trying to do, understand what they are trying to do to us and just prepare the right way. We need to just capitalize, (and) be poised in big situations. It is no different. They are still going to blow the whistle. There is still going to third and six. They are still going to be in the red zone. It is still going to be whatever backed up. All those situations are still the same, and we have a lot of respect for their players and we know that they are going to do a great job of it. It is going to be two great teams going after it and we are excited about that opportunity.”