New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
What do you remember from that first Carolina game and do you see any differences in their team as well?
"The first time we played these guys it was a hard-fought game all-around. It obviously took 60 minutes to win that game. I remember them hitting some big plays. I remember us offensively doing some good things, but yet they got us a few times, so I don't know. It's just one of those hard-fought divisional games back and forth. They're extremely explosive. They have a ton of playmakers, both offense and defense and I just think they're a young, talented team, also with some great veteran presence. I remember initially when we played them early on they were a little banged up. They had lost two key starters defensively and so I think maybe they were kind of going through a little of that in trying to find their own with some new personnel. As I look at them now, they've won four of five and it seems like they're playing extremely well. They're rolling and playing with a lot of confidence, so they seem to be hitting their stride obviously at the end of the season, playing better each week and I like to think we're in that position too. It should be a heck of a game."
What do you think of what Cam Newton is doing?
"He's an extremely impressive athlete. What he can do throwing the ball both in the pocket and outside the pocket on the run. You look at some of the stuff they do offensively with that read option and then he's in the end zone going over the goal line pile. You're just going "man this guy is a freak athlete." He can do some pretty special stuff."
How glad are you that you had the moment on Monday and now you concentrate on this week?
"The fact that we had that moment in week 15 and not week 16, we still have a game ahead of us, we broke it in about as dramatic fashion as we could and I think that made it extra special for everybody in the building and everybody that was part of that and the 50 million people watching at home, or however many it was. That was a great moment."
Compartmentalizing it, was it more emotional than you thought it would be?
"I don't' know. I tried to prepare myself for it somewhat. I was ready, so I could embrace the moment and move on. We didn't know at what point that might happen in the game. It might happen in the fourth quarter in a tight game and you have to refocus on that drive coming back and winning, whatever the situation might have been. Mid-fourth quarter we felt like the game was in hand, but the record was still out there. It was obviously important to a lot of people. I know everybody in that stadium that were watching we did it that night and in the fashion we did it, but yes, I guess the moment itself was surreal. You still kind of pinch yourself that it happened, but maybe just because we're so locked in because of where we're at and what we still have to accomplish that I don't know. It's not necessarily time to reflect. We can do that after the season. We're thinking about what's ahead."
Do you think Julio Jones might be the x-factor in this game?
"He didn't play certainly the snaps that we'll see him play this week (in the first game). He stresses the defense because before you might decide to rotate coverage one way to Roddy White, and now that becomes a little more challenging when you add (Anthony) Gonzalez to Julio Jones and Roddy White. They have very good depth at wide receiver as well along with the running backs and have a quarterback that knows how to distribute the football. They present a lot of problems."
Would Sean Payton have your blessing if he had wanted to rest you this week?
"There's a lot of records out there we could potentially set, break. I think our mindset above and beyond that is how do we put ourselves in the best position to play and win in the playoffs and when you look at last year, you could say this situation is somewhat similar to last year where going into week 16 if we beat Tampa and Atlanta loses, we win the division and get the one seed. This time around, we're locked into the three unless we win, San Fran loses then we get the two, so that's a significant jump. That's the difference between a first round bye or not. Last year we felt we were a little banged up, should rest up, limited some guys. I think we all found ourselves scoreboard watching a little in regards to that other game, therefore I feel like not that we took a step back in that game. We just didn't progress and I feel like our mindset is that we want to continue to progress and continue to get better, because I think there are things that serve you well in this game if you can continue to stay in the rise as you head into the playoffs, whether they're confidence builders or situations that come up that you fight through. You log that away and that's kind of extra strength for you in the playoffs. So I think we're taking a little different mindset than we did last year at this time in a very similar situation just feeling like if you look at the situation of what happened after the first round of the playoffs, we obviously didn't go out and play the way we felt like we should have. This is changing it up a little bit."
Just reflecting again did you get any phone calls or text messages that stood out?
"Yes, Dan Marino called me yesterday and we talked for a little bit and that was obviously a very classy move on his part to reach out and tell me congratulations. We talked for a while. Obviously I have a ton of respect for him, not only what he accomplished as a player, but the way he's handled this whole situation. I heard from him last week saying he was rooting for me. To break it and have him call me and congratulate me was obviously a very classy move on his part."
Could the addition of Darren Sproles as well as the success Reggie Bush has experienced in Miami have not worked out better for both parties?
"Very. I'm happy for everybody. There's those stages you go through in your life. I think having Reggie here for those five years, it was great for us, great for him and then it was just time to move on to something different. Reggie's moved on and you would say it's been the best for him. He's had a great year and I think everybody around here has hoped for that and wished him the best. Obviously in his place we got Darren Sproles. Darren Sproles has had arguably one of the better years of his career. Certainly we know the contributions he's made on this team. All in all I think everyone's done for the better I think we were better for having been together while we were. We cherish those moments. Reggie was a part of this championship team in '09 and so we're linked together forever. Now you move onto the next stage."
It was predictable Jimmy Graham and the two guards would make the Pro Bowl. Was it a surprised Jermon Bushrod was selected to you?
"There's lot of unsung heroes on this team. Each group, offense, defense, special teams has those guys that don't maybe get the notoriety maybe because there are other guys that do, that don't get the notoriety. Certainly the left tackle on any team is considered one of the premier positions, one of the most important positions. Obviously I think when people talk about our o-line they talk about the two guards. I couldn't be happier for the guy. I know how hard he works. I know I walk by that o-line room to do something and I see a flicker of the film going, peek in and it's Bushrod, studying his opponent, just being a pro, wanting to be the best, trying to get better. You look at where he started, getting the chance to start in '09, our championship season. I look at the way that he's handled the matchups. He's faced Jared Allen a number of times, Dwight Freeney, you name it, some of the great ones. I feel like he's always been such a pro, so professional. He's one of these tough, smart competitive guys that's consistent. You know what to expect out of him everytime out, love his attitude. He's just a great teammate, everything you would want in your left tackle.
Can you talk about Jed Collins as an alternate and his impact?
"Another unsung hero. Does he get overshadowed? When you talk about the offensive skill positions, Jed Collins' name does not come up and yet, I look at the road he's traveled, been on double-digit teams in his NFL career, practice squad here, getting cut. I don't know how many teams he's played for or how many times he's been cut, but it's been in the double digits, so to land here last year, to get his opportunity throughout camp. You saw it each and every day, this guy is working his tail off. He sees his opportunity. He's seizing it. To go from that, journeyman to Pro Bowl alternate. Obviously we know the contributions to this team he made in the run game and protection, just a guy I couldn't be happier for. Brian de la Puente is another guy, kind of a journeyman, lands on our team, now he's our starting center and doing a heck of a job. There's plenty of guys like that you would say you're happy for because of the type of people they are, the way they work and the way they go about their business."
After the Rams game, you talked about how the team needed to improve. Where are you now as a team?
"Yes (playing at a higher level). I would say we're coming off two 40-plus point performances, a lot of yards, a lot of productivity, lot of balance and yet two turnovers each game. We say a lot of good things. The turnovers were something leaving St. Louis where we said we can't shoot ourselves in the foot. We can't let that happen. We went on a four or five game stretch with no turnovers. That's impressive as aggressive as we are and all of the things you do. Not that you take a step back, but at some point it's going to happen. You have to be able to tighten it up again. We need to be able to tighten it up in that area. I would say all-around as a team I feel we're playing very complimentary football. I feel like we feed off our defense and I feel like our last few weeks our defense has been doing a great job of keeping teams out of the end zone, coming up with a key turnover like last week obviously. Special teams getting us a big return a couple of weeks in a row, field position. I just feel like we're taking care of all the little things that maybe you don't see just from watching the game, when you see offenses, defense, just some little thing we're doing well we have to continue to do that will serve us well in the playoffs."
How confident is the team?
"We're extremely confident. I think though, we're not overly confident because we understand the challenge that's in front of us. We understand how good this Carolina team is coming here and how even though we don't necessarily control our own destiny so to speak…If San Fran wins, we're locked into the three seed…So, our mindset is we want to go into the playoffs playing our best football. We don't feel like we did that last year, especially coming off that last game. We're looking at this opponent saying it's another momentum-builder, confidence-builder going into the playoffs, a very good team coming in here that we need to execute against. We need to do all the right things, so we can continue this curve that we're on."
You guys already have the best home record in franchise history. Is there something you're doing at home?
"I feel like we've taken it to the next level this year. I don't know the stats off hand, but if you look at it we have to be averaging 40-something a game at home and obviously the homefield advantage that our defense gets to have with the noise level, those are all huge advantages. I think the mindset we have playing at home, there's a pride level playing in front of our home fans and a feeling. I would say we've taken it to the next level. I felt we always had a homefield advantage, but maybe now more so than ever."
Is it the atmosphere?
"I think that's a huge part of it, yes. You probably start off by saying, home, home is home, you have to win at home. But then what elements make it a tough place to play. Well, you're in the dome, crowd noise, kind of reputation, those kinds of things. They all help."
What's the biggest benefit for you playing at home?
"Silence. From a communication standpoint, it's easier to communicate when there is no noise than when there is noise. That's first and foremost the homefield advantage. I don't know. It's not like I'd say we're just a speed team that loves playing on turf, because we're a top ten rushing offense. Typically you'd say that's built for the Midwest, on grass, bad weather. Listen, we feel like we're a team that can do it all. Offensively, we feel our offense can do it all, so indoors, outdoors whatever, we feel like we have the same results."
Did you ever play on a team that won all their home games?
"I'm not sure. I think we did at Purdue."