4New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Can you talk a little bit about coming off the bye?
"I think it's definitely different having the bye later just because when you really look at it, we had six weeks of preseason. You go for about two weeks before your first preseason game and then obviously four preseason games and then right into ten weeks of regular season football. That's sixteen weeks of very physical, every day both mentally and physically demanding. You're kind of itching for that opportunity to take a breath and get away a little bit to rest your body, rest your mind, recharge the battery and then get back. It was a pretty spirited practice today. We're all excited to get back because we're excited for the opportunity that we have going into the second half of the season. Four of the next six games are at home. The Giants are coming to town, so that's a huge game Monday night. We just got flexed to the Sunday night game after that against Detroit. As you look at it, we have a tough schedule with a lot of very good teams. This is our opportunity to try to separate ourselves and really establish our position both in our conference and our division. I'd say that definitely with the amount of time we had off, being that Coach (Sean) Payton turned us loose after that big victory right away and the fact that we're playing Monday night gave us an extra day as well, I'd say that's the most time we've had off ever, which maybe because this is the last bye week you could possibly have and we've been grinding for 16 weeks straight it was very appropriate because I think a lot of guys needed it. We had quite a few guys banged up. Whether they had missed time or that they were just hurting and they needed that relief a little bit, I think we're going to make this a very positive thing for us. I think we've gradually kind of changed our formula for the bye week different from the first three years we were here to the last three years, which has really been more recovery time and kind of extending that bye so that guys can really get rested. I think we have enough of a veteran team now and leadership and character and guys just knowing the right thing to do to take care of yourself and to make sure you're prepared and ready when you come back."
After looking at the first ten weeks of the season, what do you think you guys need to sustain or improve on to make a deep run into the playoffs?
"As we look at it right now, there are consistent things that every week win and lose games. I'm going to sound like a broken record, but the fact still remains that taking care of the football and then being able to take it away is vital to winning and losing. Being able to run the ball and being able to stop the run is vital to winning. The opportunity to make big plays, third down conversions to stay on the field, red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns when you have the chance and not field goals. I think we started off like game busters on third down, and we've slowly tailed off a little bit but we're still obviously operating at a pretty high level. We just need to continue to emphasize how important that is. Taking care of the football, we can do a better job offensively of taking care of it and I know defensively they're preaching taking it away. I'd say those are two of the more important things and then obviously the run game as well."
Are there certain things you can attribute to your team's success in November last year and this year?
"We put a lot of emphasis on that. We're all professionals and we all try to approach our jobs the same way every day and each game the same with that level of intensity and urgency and all those things, but human nature would tell you that it's hard to sustain that level of play. So how do you differentiate each game from one another and make it the most important game? How do you make each month the most important month of football? I just think for whatever reason over the last few years especially, I think we've just really emphasized the month of November being the time when the contenders kind of separate themselves from the pretenders. We always want to be a contender and we view ourselves that way. I think we just put that focus and that attention to playing really well in November because I think that can really be a springboard to how you're going to play in December and how you're going to do in your division and kind of creating momentum going into the latter part of the season."
Does it feel like with playing the Giants and Lions, who are both have similar records and are right behind the Saints, that it's in your hands to better position yourself?
"Absolutely. It's still and always will be one game at a time, but as you get to this point in the season you start looking at where you stand in the playoff picture. Obviously we have enough of a challenge within our own division, but then we have a couple of conference games coming up that could affect playoff positioning, which I know we aspire to be there as do the two teams we're playing coming up especially the Giants who have been there a lot. It's very much strategic. These games mean that much more because of that."
Are you preparing for the Giants to consider this a must-win game considering they're coming off of two straight losses?
"So much of this league is not who you play, it's when you play them. Everybody's good. Everybody has the talent and the ability to win any Sunday. Obviously these guys are coming off of two tough losses with the last one being at home against a divisional opponent, so there's an extreme sense of urgency on their part. All that means is we know we're going to have to go out there and play one of our best football games of the year. Execution is going to be key. As we go through this week coming of off a bye, it's Thanksgiving, I'm sure everybody has family coming in town. You just have to find a way to eliminate distractions and enjoy that time but also make sure you do everything you can this week to go out to prepare to play the best game you can play. You expect a four quarter, physical, down to the wire game. I think if you prepare yourself for that, then you're ready and that's all you can do."
When you look at the Giants front four defensive linemen, what do you see from them?
"They do a great job of getting pressure just with their front four. They have the ability to pressure, but at times they don't need to because they get that pressure from their front four. They're very good against the run as well as the pass. That's something you see is just big physical guys that look the part and are very versatile and athletic and can do a lot of things. As we look at it, you have to find a way to keep those guys off balance. You want to be good rushing the football and mix in the play-action, drop back, change up the launch points, and do all those things you need to do to slow those guys down."
Can you talk about your own offensive linemen coming together?
"I think they're doing a great job. I think they're coming off of a great performance in Atlanta. Obviously that's a tough place to play with the environment and having to go up against some pretty elite pass rushers. I felt like they handled it extremely well with no sacks and something to build on. The offensive line is the group that has to play with the most continuity. They have five guys that need to be on the same page every play. It's hard to do, and yet I feel like we have smart, tough guys that do that."
Sean Payton said he thinks Marques Colston might have played his best game ever as a Saint. That's saying a lot for him.
"He's played in a lot of big games and he's played well. He's been a very consistent performer for us for a long time, ever since he's been here. He's one of the original guys. I would agree with that. It's just small, subtle things. I've played in games where he's scored three touchdowns. He didn't score three touchdowns (against Atlanta), but he came up with some plays and some catches and did some little things in critical situations. That was where you say, 'Wow, there was nobody that could have covered him there because he was going to find a way.' I'm happy for him. He's a big physical guy that obviously makes a living running across the middle and getting hit a lot. There are a lot of times where he's playing banged up and playing through it. Right now as I look at it, I think he's as comfortable and healthy as he's been in a long time."
Statistically, this offense is on pace to be the best since you've been here. Can you talk about that a little bit?
"I have to give Darren Sproles a lot of credit. I think he's been a big part of that. I don't think we've ever had this stable of running backs. Back in 2006, we had Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister, that one-two punch. Those guys played great and complemented each other extremely well. It seems like that position has kind of been battered with injuries over the last three or four years after that. Obviously 2009, that was a solid group where if one guys was banged up, the other guys were able to pick up the slack. I think this group is very similar in that regard but maybe to another level because Sproles can do so many things and Pierre Thomas is in the prime of his career as well. Mark Ingram is a young and exciting talent. Chris Ivory is just getting back into the mix, too. It's pick your poison. Those guys have a lot to do with it. Up front, I think our offensive line has a lot to do with it. I think our wide receivers have been as consistent as you can get. Our starting four have been together for five years straight. Three of the four have been here for six years. I think the continuity and consistency and playmaking ability is an all-time high."
Can you talk about being ahead of Dan Marino's passing numbers up to this point?
"I'll be honest, we did this back in '08 where I was getting questions each week about being on pace. I think I thought a lot more of it back then because you kind of thought that record was untouchable. I think that was the closest anyone had gotten to it in a while. The way this year started off, there were like six guys that were on pace and then gradually it's kind of dwindled down. I try not to give it much thought. We would love to have that record, but within the framework of winning games. I certainly try not to think about it. You just try to do whatever it takes to win and if that means we have to throw it three hundred plus yards a game or run it two hundred plus yards a game, we'll do whatever it takes and we'll see where the chips fall at the end of the season."
Are you exited to see which poison is picked this week considering all four running backs are healthy?
"Coming off the bye week, I think that's a good problem to have. I think all four of them are going to be used at some point in the season. We'll see how it shakes out. Obviously we're early in the week here. We'll just have to see. It's a good problem to have."
Is there a better free agent pickup than Darren Sproles this year?
"It would be hard to find. Look at his productivity. To be honest, I don't even know the numbers. I just know he's up there in receptions and total yardage. He may even be number one. What I know is within the framework of what we do offensively, eh can do everything. We ask him to do a lot and it's never too much for him. There's not a guy that I have more trust in with protection, with catching the football out of the backfield, giving the ball to him in critical running situations. Whatever it may be, the guy is a ball player and I'm glad he's on my team."