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Brees Says Bucs Game "Couldn't Get Any Bigger"

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New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees
Media Availability
Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If you had to give a snapshot of where you are at midseason what would you say?
"The numbers don't' always tell the story. You can look at third down and say we've been very good on third down. Although I'd say that we've gotten in too many third and long situations. That was evident last week. While we've been good at converting those thus far, those are the things long-term that can get you beat. So what does that say? We have to be better on first and second down. That's the intermediate passing game. That's the run game. There's improvement's that we can make there. Red zone efficiency is something we started off slow in. Percentages were low, which we made an emphasis on and I believe we're nine of our last ten, so we understand the importance of that. That's getting back to winning football. Certainly we have some ground to make up from where we were and where we started the season at."

How about yourself personally?
"I feel like I'm as in-tune as I've ever been as far as my comfort level in this offense and with the guys around me, the guys up front, skill position players. (We have) faced some things this year that we've never had to go through before, one of those being Sean (Payton) going down and the adjustments being made. From that point on, for which I feel like I have a great comfort level in with Peter Carmichael (Jr.), as I've talked about that before, but albeit something that's just different. You're talking to me at a moment when we're coming off a loss, against St. Louis on the road, which I think we all felt like was a game going into it where we feel like we need to win those games and so here we are at 5-3, sitting atop the division with others and understanding our future and destiny, we control that, that's right in front of us and it starts this week with Tampa coming here. Obviously we have that sour taste in our mouths from a few weeks back and we just understand the importance of this week and how it pertains to the rest of the season."

When you look back at that first meeting with Tampa and the film, what stands out for you from that game?
"They executed very well. They did a great job of not allowing us to get anything going in the run game. They forced some turnovers which ended up being a big factor in that game. We ended up having four. When you look at what any defense preaches, take the ball away, stop the run and minimize the big plays in the passing game. They play a lot of man coverage. When you play man coverage that's tight throwing lanes. They're going to bring pressure and try to get after the quarterback. You're going to make some plays and potentially give up some, so we were able to get some big plays in the game but we weren't able to overcome the turnovers and some of the situations we put ourselves in."

Do you think some teams looked at that Tampa game and are playing you guys a little bit differently?
"Yes. I'll be honest though, I'm not sure if we got much man last week against St. Louis, which is if you look at our game against Tampa, the percentages were man, zone pressure, some zone, but it was a lot of man. The Colts didn't play that. Neither did the St. Louis Rams. Every defense you play has a certain scheme. They kind of work off of that scheme. Yes, they're going to look at previous film and maybe look at something that is their strength. Yes. In a lot of cases, this is the type of team they are, this is what they do, they have a lot of new wrinkles and we have to be ready for it."

Do you see Jimmy Graham getting played differently after the little run he had?
"No, I think last week was just one of those games. The Colts game was one where everything seemed to go right. The Rams game was one where everything seemed to go wrong. We couldn't get any kind of a rhythm going offensively and it was the run game, pass game, lack of big plays. It was the negative plays, a lot of things that culminated into being a rough afternoon for all of us."

Not to take anything away from Charles Brown but does having a guy like Zach Strief, a guy with a lot of experience and a lot of size, do you think that makes life a little easier for you?
"Yes. I'm excited about Zach being back in the lineup just for him. I know he's worked so hard to earn that spot. Obviously he suffered that injury week three. I think Charlie Brown came in and did a great job, not a good job, a great job. It's tough to lose him now, but I'm excited about Zach coming back and having this opportunity. I know he's chomping at the bit to get back. There's a big confidence I have in those guys. I'm excited for Zach."

At that position you have with Zach going out, Charles Brown going on IR, in this calendar year you've played with four different centers. How much does that affect the offensive line and even though you don't look for excuses but could that explain why they're really good one week and maybe not as good the next?
"I think that all those guys no matter who's plugged in, they're never going to make excuses for themselves. Like I said, I truly have confidence in all those guys. I don't think twice. I don't think twice about the guy that's in there. I know the guy that's in there despite maybe being in there because of an injury, what have you; he knows what he's doing. They're well-coached. We have a great scheme. They know what's expected of them. They spend a lot of time together and at it. So, I'm never going to make an excuse for myself. I know they're never going to make excuses for themselves. There's just times where we've all played well and there are times when we haven't executed as we should have.

After dropping that game in Tampa, how important is this game now?
"This game couldn't get any bigger for being a midseason game where we're coming off a loss; they're coming off a loss, albeit they had a bye week as well. It was the not too distant past that we went up there and were defeated. We understand the importance of this game not only for this point in the season, coming off a loss, divisional game, the second one against this team. Yes, it's a big team."

In the FOX broadcast against St. Louis, Chris Myers was saying that both you and Sean were worried about a possible letdown and said that one of you said that elite teams don't have breakdowns. Do you think you guys are an elite team right now?
"Not right now. We haven't proven it. I believe we have the ability to be, but we haven't proven it yet."

What do you need to do?
"We have to win games like the one last week. We have to be able to put together good performances consistently and show that we can win in a lot of different ways that we can win when maybe we don't have our best stuff for whatever reason. We can win when maybe we're a little banged up. We can win with offense. We can win with defense. We can win with special teams, that no matter the situation and whatever we encounter just find a way. When I look at us over the last three years, I feel we've been very good at that. I can't definitely point to games where you say you shouldn't have lost that one and we did, but I can also point to a lot of games where we found a way and as you look at this season and this moment and this opportunity, what kind of team are we going to be this year, because I feel like we have all the pieces in place and when we do play well, we play extremely well. We just need that to be on a more consistent basis."

While 5-3 is a good record, are you disappointed in that?
"We've won most of the close games we've been involved in. It's been 50-50. We fought our way back in the Green Bay game and had a chance to tie it in the end despite everything that happened and then beat a very good Chicago team, came back and beat a Texans team, scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, got the big turnover, went on the road and almost got three in a row but got two of three, one of those a hard-fought victory in Carolina, a tough defeat in Tampa. A huge Sunday night win against the Colts and a disappointing loss at St. Louis, so it's been a little bit of back and forth. We know the standard. That's the important thing. We know the standard and we know how good we can be and so now it's a matter of there are no excuses, no feeling sorry for ourselves, no time for that. It's time to go out and prove that you belong and you're one of the elite teams and you're going to show up each week."

Do you find it puzzling that with some of those games you mention like when you play on a Sunday night you play terrific or against really good opponents and publicized games, but sometimes not much in others. Can you explain?
"Now we're talking human nature. Human nature is that when you have a Sunday, Monday night game, a divisional game, a game on primetime, that's easy for guys to get up for, get excited for, get focused for and everything else, but it's the three games on the road. It's getting a huge win and the next week you have to play what everybody says to be "this team you should beat". You kind of have everything to lose in that instance and not anything to gain and so that's kind of the picture everyone paints for you and you have to fight through that and see that's not the case. Because if you look at these guys on film and know that if you don't play your best, they will beat you. That's the way it is in this league. A lot of this is fighting human nature, fighting through the letdown. The tendency is to relax after a big accomplishment. In this league it's magnified. You have to put it together every week. You have to be consistent, because that's the nature of this business."

On the offensive line, you've been sacked 19 times in eight games which seems unusual for them. You've said in the past that's a unit where chemistry's extremely important. I appreciate that you have confidence in them and they've played well in some games, but it seems like they have some work. Do you agree?
"I'd say we all have work to do. If you ask me what I know that we equaled our sack total right now as to maybe what we've had in years past at the midseason. It doesn't feel like that to me. I don't feel like I've been sacked an inordinate amount of times or more than usual, except for this last game. I think that was evident to all of us. I think that there's better things we can all do. Me getting the ball out. From a scheme standpoint helping those guys at times. You can't expect and we never do for a guy to go out there and block a guy 40 times in a row. There's going to be a time or two when he gets beat. You just have to know that let's try to avoid the negative play as much as we can by throwing the ball away. Sometimes taking a sack is better than the alternative which might be forcing one in somewhere and turning the ball over. To answer your question I don't feel like it's been more, but when you look at the statistics yes, it has been and I think that we have ways to help fix that issue."

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