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Brees: Character and Leadership Spearhead Saints' Success


New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees
Media Availability
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do you see Marques Colston as the leader of the wide receivers unit and how have you seen him progress?
"Marques is a quiet guy.  I'd say a lot of the receivers have a similar personality.  They're all extremely hard workers, they're all unselfish players, but they're all super-competitive guys deep down.  That fire certainly burns in all of them.  Lance Moore is probably the most animated out of all of them with some of the antics after first downs and touchdown dances and all that stuff which we all love.  I'd say as a group, especially the fact that they've all been together as a group in their fifth year, and (Robert) Meachem was added in '07 so the other three have been together for six year, so they've been together for a long time.  They all push and motivate each other.  Even if it's quietly, I know there are plenty of times where they're banged up but you would never know it because they show up to practice each day with the same level of intensity and speed and quality reps.  Those guys just don't take a day off.  I know there are times when those guys deserve a day off and probably should get one, but they won't let themselves do it because they know deep down that means more reps for another guy, so I think a little bit of the unselfishness comes out during the week as well."

What can you pinpoint to where this team is consistently winning year-in and year-out?
"That's progress. You have to learn how to handle prosperity and learn how to be successful and sustain that successful level.  2006 was an unbelievable year, an extremely special year and yet the expectations going into '07 were so great coming off of the NFC Championship game, not to say that we didn't know how to handle it but none of us had ever been in that position before.  We were all new.  We were all kind of beginners, so I think it took some of the growing pains of 2007 and 2008 for us to be strengthened and harden ourselves a little bit and also gain some of that wisdom and experience that it takes to sustain a successful franchise organization for a period of time.  You kind of watch around the league the teams that are able to do it and the teams that you really consider the model.  You can say the Colts have been that, the Patriots have been that, the Steelers, all of these teams that year-in and year-out you know what to expect.  You know they're a serious contender.  We want to be considered one of those teams that year-in and year-out is somebody to deal with, somebody that's a contender, and somebody that knows how to win, somebody that knows how to handle adversity and all the things that come along in a season."

Do you consider this game a trap game like against St. Louis?
"Obviously, we remember what happened in St. Louis, but at this point in the season there can't be any trap games.  There can't be anybody that even remotely sneaks up on you because you weren't taking them seriously.  That's not ever our mentality.  Obviously, we've had a few games over the last few years that we just want to forget, but unfortunately it's the truth and that is each week you have to bring your best performance and put your best foot forward.  We're playing for a lot.  We've clinched a playoff spot, but that's nowhere near our ultimate goal.  We have plenty of dominoes to knock over as we go along here.  The next one is being a division winner.  That's kind of the next step and we have to continue to win if we want that to happen especially against NFC opponents and especially on the road."

How different is this Vikings defense than the one you faced last year?
"Obviously that was a lot of games ago.  That's 30 games ago, but they're pretty similar as far as their front seven.  I'd say it's pretty much all new faces in the secondary from what we played.  I think just when you look at them statistically, there are some things that stick out in just half of the last ten years and that's that they can rush the passer and they can stop the run.  Those are things that they've been very successful at.  Obviously, I know this hasn't been the season they hoped for record-wise, but I can tell you that in eight of their losses they've lost by seven points or less.  They've been in games where they've been up by a lot and they've just lost it at the end.  A lot of these games have been closer than maybe what their record shows.  We still know what they're capable of especially playing at their place.  That's an extremely tough place to play.  I know that obviously they're trying to salvage what's left of their season.  We expect their best performance.  They have some playmakers on both sides of the ball that we have to handle and obviously we want to continue to get better."

Have you reached the level of the Colts, Patriots, and Steelers?
"That's not for us to judge right now.  If you look at what we've been able to accomplish here over a six year span, I think it's on track with the type of team and organization that we want to be.  I can definitely say that we've brought in the right type of people.  That goes back to when Mr. Benson and Mickey Loomis hired Sean Payton.  The culture and environment that he's helped to create, and the types of coaches that he's brought in as well as players, there's not a bad guy on this team.  There's not a selfish guy on this team.  Every guy on this team I can honestly say is a team guy.  Everyone understands their role and is here because of their character and their leadership ability and their productivity.  We all kind of fit into this equation here.  That's priority number one.  I guess only time will tell if we can be considered one of those elite teams that every year you know what you're going to get."

How much more are you driven by a Super Bowl or bust mentality rather than thinking about what it is like to build something and reflect?
"I can say that in our hearts, just making it to the playoffs isn't good enough. That might be where it stops for some teams, but for us, it's all about the expectation level that we've created in the last few years, definitely in winning a Super Bowl. It maybe changes your outlook a little bit. Before that you could only dream about it and hope for it. Once you do taste it, there's nothing like it. Anything short of it is a disappointment. That's a good thing. It certainly keeps you motivated and aspiring for greater and greater things."

While your defense has given up a lot of yards this season, they've made the one or two plays they've had to make over the past month in games. What do you think of that?
"I'm very confident in that group. There are times where a lot of those yards are coming at the end of games where people are playing catch up and teams are in two-minute  mode for a full quarter trying to come back. Those numbers can definitely be deceiving. Definitely when you look at the stops that they made against Atlanta in that overtime win at Atlanta and on the road again this week against Tennessee, just stepping up when we need it most. I look at obviously my role in that thing. Offensively we had some changes in the four minute mode in both those games where we could have closed those games out. Gotten a first down or two, run out the clock, don't even let that happen. At times it's going to happen and the defense is going to have to go out and make a play, just like at times, the offense is going to have to drive down and make a play,. I know their mentality is you put them in whatever situation and they get it done and they'll take care of it."

What do you think of Jared Allen's comments about New Orleans?
"I know Jared Allen. I know his personality. He's a goofy dude. He'll say a lot of things. There's a lot of stuff you don't take seriously. I know he was kind of going on a rant talking about Detroit and New Orleans. That doesn't bother me, because I know him. I know his personality. It's no big deal."

What do you think of Tim Tebow mania? Have you watched him play at all?
"I really haven't had a chance to watch him a lot. I watched his game against Minnesota, because they played them a few weeks back, but other than that we really haven't had similar opponents. There haven't been a lot of games to watch. I met him one time. I met him at the ESPY's two years ago. I really didn't spend any time other than just a greeting. It's impressive to see how they've won games over the last seven weeks. It's been pretty remarkable. You can't question that guy's toughness, heart, grit, desire and all those things. He stands for a lot of great things. If you're a kid out there looking for someone to look up to. I'd be looking up to Tim Tebow."

There is a lot of criticism of his mechanics, but can you appreciate what he's doing?
"Yes, it's hard to win in this league and they're finding ways to do it. You can say all you want about the statistics in the first three quarters, but the fact of the matter is when they need a play, it's down to the wire, he's making them. All of us, especially early in our careers, he's still a very young player. He still has a lot to learn. There's a big learning curve, especially for a quarterback coming into this league, putting that type of responsibility on his shoulders, but he's a winner. You can't argue that."

Is there a jolt of electricity around you guys when the 49ers lost, even though you're concentrating on yourselves?
"Yes, because that affects us and really all we can worry about is us. As long as we take care of our business and all of a sudden something happens where we're a two seed and have a first round bye, all that's good stuff, but priority number one is to take care of our business."

After the St. Louis game, was there a priority to limit turnovers?
"Yes, we look at that St. Louis game and say our three turnovers, two interceptions and the blocked punt which was in essence a turnover resulted in 21 points of them. You just sit there and go that's what gets you beat. That's not our style. We know better than that. That was disappointing. It was embarrassing for us to lose the way we did. Yes, you always make an emphasis of it. Unfortunately it's only times when it happens and something bad happens as a result, it finally hits you upside the head and you say we have to cut this out. We have a good stretch going here and hopefully we can keep it going. Statistics show that when we don't turn the ball over, we are hard to beat."

What does it do when you put some points on the board whether it's a field goal or touchdown right before halftime?
"I think it's very significant. It creates a big momentum shift in a game when you can obviously take a ball especially, 80 yards, 90 yards and get a touchdown. You essentially steal a possession, because you go into halftime, the clock runs out, you have the points and they didn't even have a chance. Those are all big things. Hopefully we'll continue to get the opportunities to do that."

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