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Drew Brees on Falcons game: 'We want to finish the season off on a high note'

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Press Conference with Local Media
Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Is there a game or a memory that stands out to you from the Georgia Dome?

"I know this will be the last regular season game in the Georgia Dome. Obviously, we've played there every year since we've been here. I can remember in 2006 Terrance Copper catching a Hail Mary. Actually, the first pass of the game we threw an 80-yard post to Devery Henderson for a touchdown, and then at the end of that half, threw a Hail Mary and Terrance Copper caught a tip pass in the back of the end zone and we basically like literally took it right out of the tunnel and into our locker room. We played there on Monday night a couple times. We've obviously played in a lot of big games there because this is obviously a big divisional rivalry and Atlanta has always been a very good team. Especially since Matt Ryan's been there and obviously they're having another great year."

Do these 5,000-yard seasons mean anything to you?

"No, not right now. Not right now they don't. I'm just focusing on winning and trying to put us in a position to win championships."

Does it mean anything to you when people that say you play better with age?

"I mean that's my goal. That's my goal every year is to get better in some way, to evaluate my performance from the year before during the offseason and try to make improvements wherever I can, and that might be just a little tweak of my routine. That might be trying something new in regards to my preparation. It might be doing something different in regards to my recovery. There are a lot of things that I feel like I've tried to implement every offseason to prepare myself to play my best during the season and that's always my goal, is to improve and get better."

Do you think guys relish the opportunity to spoil Atlanta's shot at the two seed in the playoffs?

"That's not what's on our mind. That's not a reason for wanting to win this game. Obviously, we want to finish the season off on a high note. Winning three in a row would be great, big difference between 8-8 and 7-9 and against a divisional opponent on the road last game in the Georgia dome (in the) regular season. I mean (there are) a lot of reasons why we want to win this game that are well ahead of just their playoff aspirations."

What would winning three games in a row mean at the end of the season?

"I think it would say a lot about our guys. I think it would say a lot about this locker room and the direction that we're headed as a team and I feel like we've begun to figure a lot of things out and begun to find what we're really good at on both sides of the ball, and you want to continue to build upon that each week and obviously, when that preparation and that work results in victories, that builds confidence."

What is the mood in this locker room right now?

"We're obviously disappointed that we're not in the playoff race, but I can say this – guys are having fun. Guys enjoy being around one another. If anything, I think that guys are just wanting (that) because this team doesn't get to spend any more time together after this week. We'd love to be playing more games, but we'd love to have a reason to come into the locker room and have this atmosphere and guys are loose (and) guys are having fun. Practice is alive and competitive as its always been and obviously we're pushing for a victory this week, and then we all understand as we move into the offseason and next year that there might be a lot of the same faces, but every team changes."

Do you feel like this team has turned the corner?

"I think there is a confidence. Yes, there is definitely a confidence in this locker room."

Do you think Coach Sean Payton will be here next year?

"Yes, absolutely."

You don't believe any of the talk out there regarding Coach Sean Payton?

"I've heard some of the same stuff that I heard last year and I felt like I had a pretty good feeling last year, and I don't see why it would be any different this year."

If Coach Sean Payton was even thinking about leaving, you'd be one of the first people he'd talk to right?

"I assume so, but again I don't think any of that speculation is true."

Have the Coach Sean Payton rumors become a distraction?

"No, because the only time I hear about it is when I talk to you guys."

Do you feel like this team is close heading into next year?

"I do, I do. I feel like we're very close."

Is there anything that makes this season feel different than the last couple years?

"Yes, I feel like the last three years, as tough as it's been at times, the ups and downs and the disappointment of not being able to (make the playoffs). Being one or two games out and being able to look back on the season and say I can find you one or two games we could have won. Probably could find you three or four games, but man that's this league and it's tough to win. It's tough to sustain, but I feel like we've got the right type of guys in this locker room now to do it."

Why is finishing 8-8 versus 7-9 so important to you?

"For obvious reasons, it's the difference between a losing record and not a losing record, but I think it's one step better than last year and it's one step closer to where we want to go."

Are there any similarities to now and the 2008 season?

"I like to draw comparisons to that stretch in 07', 08' where we experienced the success of the 06' NFC Championship game and then two seasons where you don't make the playoffs, and yet knowing that it's coming together and sometimes you have to experience failure, take a step back in order to take three steps forward. I felt like that was that point in time for us and I feel like these last few years are almost a replica of that. As to what we can accomplish next year."

As far as a lot of good young players in the locker room?

"Good young players poised to break through."

Is it really rewarding for you to see you feel as good as you did this season after battling injuries the last couple of years?

"Yes it is. But at the same time, I am very much focused on the process to get to the result. The result is I want to be winning, making the playoffs and having a chance to win a championship. While I feel like there were a lot of good things this year, I feel like we can do even better next year. Certainly, I can do even better next year to get us to where we need to go."

Do you think there could be more pressure to win in 2017 given the three losing seasons and that you can hit free agency in 2018?

"There is no more pressure than there always is. No more pressure than there always is. To me, there is just no difference."

Has it surprised you how good the offensive line has been as of late? Are you confident that that level of play can continue into next year?

"Listen, I am. I think we're all very excited about Terron Armstead and Andrus Peat, two young guys that obviously, it was tough what Terron (Armstead) had to go through this year, battling those injuries, but I am looking forward to getting a healthy Terron Armstead back. Andrus Peat's versatility – he has been playing a lot of different positions here over the last year and really doing a good job, plus we were able to kind of hone in on that left side for him. Max Unger is Max Unger. Jahri (Evans) and (Zach) Strief, I can't say enough about those two guys. Those guys are such a unit. It's like they are an old married couple. They know each other so well. In order to be successful you have to be so much on the same page. Those guys have been doing it for a long time and they have been doing it together for a long time. It is pretty rare for two guys coming in in the same draft class 11 years later and have been starting next to each other for six straight years. That is pretty strong. I hope both of those guys are back as well. I love those guys up front. I couldn't ask for a better group. Really."

How was the drone that you got for Christmas? No Trevor Bauer incident right?

"No, although it's funny. Well, not funny. You open it up and I am sure that every drone has to have that – they have that little card in there that has the picture of somebody that has their finger sliced off and the circle around it with the X marked through it like danger beware. I was like OK, good to know. Those are fun. You take really good pictures. You can maneuver it with your phone. I took that out to the park with the kids on Monday and flew it around and kind of chased them down with it. We had a blast."

How do you take it when you set the standard so high with 5,000 yards and 30-something touchdowns, and yet there is not a lot of buzz around you because you have done it so many times?

"I am just willing to do whatever I need to do to help us win. I have a high level of expectation and standard for myself. That doesn't mean stats. Does a high completion percentage and do touchdown passes versus low number of turnovers, do all of those things result in winning – in most cases, yes they do. There is a correlation there. At the end of the day, we've got to find ways to win."

That is more important to you than these prolific and historic stats that you put up every year?

"Yes, it is. Priority number one is winning."

Statistically it looks like (Mark Ingram) has advanced his game in terms of being a more dynamic contributor to the offense; does that translate as well to the eye test?

"Yes, I can't say enough good things about Mark (Ingram). We all know the type of runner he is, but he is really a great receiver. He is great in pass protection too. There is a high level of confidence I have when he is back there, whether it be with running the football or in pass protection, or knowing that he is coming out of the back field and he is one-on-one with a linebacker or safety. He is going to make a good decision on a choice route or something like that and make the catch or catch a screen pass and have the ability to take it to the house. He has got all of those qualities which I would say is pretty rare in a back to have all of those qualities, but he's got them."

What makes the Saints players so unique? How do you differ from other teams?

"I would probably say that there is a connection that our team and our players have with the city that is probably pretty unique compared to most places. Throughout the course of a season you are always trying to build that team chemistry and you want to enjoy coming to work every day. I feel like I can honestly say, especially this year, I have enjoyed coming to work more than any other time just because of the quality of people and human beings that we have in this locker room, as well as good football players."

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