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Drew Brees Says Saints Need to be Sharp in Season Finale


New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Post-Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How has this defense progressed in your mind from practices through games? Have you seen the growth?
"Obviously I missed the offseason so I wasn't here when a lot of the installation was taking place and that kind of thing. During training camp, for me too, it was just trying to play catch-up with being back and the offense and the new wrinkles and some of the new personnel. Definitely going up against them every day, there were plenty of things that we were facing during that time that were different or something more challenging than what we had seen before. For me, I know how much better that makes me as a player, to be able to face that kind of defense and the respect that I have for Coach Spagnuolo. Obviously in learning a defense like that, that takes some time, so there is a comfort level, a learning curve, I would say a confidence kind of grows as you go out and execute the defense and execute the gameplan. I think there was some getting used to just as they got into the preseason and the season. I think just from watching our guys in practice, and granted we're not going up against them directly but just watching them, you see how much confidence they're playing with, guys just flying around. I love the way that our defense practices and I think that carries over directly to the game. You can see the plan, too, for every opponent and just how much thought goes into it from a coaching staff standpoint and then you've got have smart guys to execute that defense. I think a lot of it starts at the linebacker position, getting the calls, communicating it and that kind of thing. And the secondary. We have those type of guys and I feel like our guys have done a great job of it."

Do you expect a lot of turnover with this team after the year?
"I haven't thought about it to be honest with. I will do zero reflection on this season until a week from now. Every year there is some. Most of the time, if it's coaches, it's because there are some guys that get opportunities to go elsewhere, a promotion. For some players, it's just free agency maybe or whatever it might be. You always expect it a little bit and just kind of wait and see. I don't think it would be any different than any other year."

How different is the overall feeling this week knowing that it is the final game unlike other seasons where the playoffs are approaching?
"It just makes you want to go out and play your absolute best and really feel good about our team, the way we were able to finish and the future despite not meeting some of the goals that we had for this season. We did kind of realign those a few weeks back and I think that gives you something to feel good about, achieving those goals that you kind of re-established for yourself a few weeks back and that's what we're trying to do."

What are your thoughts on Jermon Bushrod and being a free agent after the season?
"I'd say we have a lot of players that if they ever get on the block that a lot of people would come after them because they're good guys and they're good players. Jermon Bushrod has certainly cemented himself as one of the best left tackles in this league. Obviously I want him back, I'd love to have him back. I understand how this business works and everything else but we'll wait and see how that all transpires but, man, I really hope he's back with us."

With your contract, do you anticipate the club coming to you in the offseason saying would you be willing to restructure your contract to help the organization?
"I'm not sure."

I'm just curious because this club is going to have to make some tough decisions this offseason.
"Yeah, and listen, those decisions are made every offseason. In most cases, and this goes around the league, every team, at times, loses somebody that they would love to keep and for cap reasons or whatever it might be they're not able to. I feel like we've done a great job of retaining a lot of guys, more than most teams I would imagine. I would say a lot of guys want to stay here because of what we've built and what they're a part of and the atmosphere and the culture here. I'd say that's one real positive thing that we have going for us that has served us well will continue to as we move along here."

Talk about Carolina's two defensive ends, as they have a lot of sacks this year.
"Just like last week, it's rare to have two defensive ends that have ten-plus sacks in this league. The Cowboys had it and now the Panthers have it so it's back-to-back weeks where you're facing a very formidable pass rush. Really, they get it with their front four. They don't need to bring a lot of pressure in order to get it. At least that's what we've seen on film. Especially the last five weeks, they've really done a great job of getting after the opposing quarterbacks with a lot of sacks, a lot of pressures and causing havoc in that backfield. And they're both young players, (Greg) Hardy and (Charles) Johnson, and obviously the interior guys as well. They move them around at times and they're just very productive, very effective."

Speaking of young guys, and you have played them once already, what do you think about Captain Munnerlyn and those defensive backs?
"That's a little different than when we played them the first time, obviously. There has been a pretty big gap here since we played them, like 13 or 14 weeks, so it's a new corner, a new nickel than what we've seen before and a new safety. They're playing very, very well as a group. With that pass rush as well, I think just the combination of a good back-end and getting after the passer, they're able to kind of take advantage of that, so in both the run game and the pass game they've done a good job."

What was your primary takeaway from the first game against Carolina this season?
"We ran the ball well. Certainly we ran the ball well enough to win. I know we had some opportunities that we wish we could have taken advantage of. Obviously, the turnover early in that game, you hate to see that happen because you feel like we had some good momentum going. To really score touchdowns on two of our first three drives. Other than that, they're a really good football team and they're playing really well right now. I know they had a tough stretch this year just like we did but they're trying to finish strong just like us. I'd say they're playing some of their best football and so are we."

A lot of teams talk a big game even after being eliminated from the playoffs but it doesn't always translate to effort on the field. Why would this team be different?
"They've got veteran guys. They've got professionals. I think they're a very talented group too, the young guys they have are extremely talented. I know they're goals and their aspirations are higher than their record, just like us, right now. I think they are well coached both offensively and defensively and so they're not the type of team that shuts it down. Obviously you see that, they're playing very well."

Ron Rivera said after seeing your numbers that it's expected of you now and other teams expect big games from you. How do you feel when you hear that and that other teams know what is coming when they're playing you?
"It's an honor when you have coaches and players that you respect say that kind of thing. It's also a big responsibility. You guys have heard me say it, you're only as good as your next performance. Regardless of what happened last week, the week before, whatever, I want the lasting impression in people's minds to be something really good. We have one more game. I want it to be really good for this team, not only the result but the way we play, I want to be sharp. I want to be really good in the pass game, really good in the run game. A really great team effort. Get a win, go out feeling good. The expectation level is always high so it's not like others are putting higher expectations on us than we do. Nobody can be more critical of ourselves than us and nobody can put higher expectations or loftier goals on ourselves either."

Not many people have 5,000 yard, 40 touchdown expectations.
"Yeah. Well, let's hope we hit those. Let's hope we win the game. And then we'll reflect once the season is over. In the end, as a quarterback, it's did you win or did you lose, did you go to the playoffs or did you not, did you have a chance at the championship or not. That's what drives you."

Will it be a strange week for you for Super Bowl week in New Orleans?
"Like I said, I haven't thought about Super Bowl week a whole lot. Again, it's what we all hope for. It's what we all wanted, more than anything. There is that period of time at the end of every season where you go through that couple of weeks, my wife calls it the re-introductory phase into society, where you leave the routine and just everything that the season is and you're realizing that the season is over and that kind of thing. Then you're somewhat over it after three weeks or so and then all of a sudden the Super Bowl is going to be here and you're going to be like 'we should be here, we should be practicing right now, we should be getting ready to go win this thing.' It's always disappointing, regardless of where it is but especially when it's in your hometown."

Pro Bowl selections come out today and Jahri Evans, Thomas Morstead and Jimmy Graham are kind of close in there along with yourself. Do you feel like you guys have had the kind of year to all be selected to the Pro Bowl?
"I certainly think there have been some unbelievable individual efforts by all of those guys that you mentioned, and guys defensively as well. As it always seems to go in this league, and deservingly so, a lot of the winning teams have more guys. That success as a team breeds those honors individually. I definitely think that there are guys on our team that deserve to go. Morstead and quite a few others. I think every year there is disappointment about the guys that don't get selected that you feel like deserved it but regardless it's a tremendous honor to be chosen and we'll see how it works out for those guys."

Marques Colston just surpasses the 1,000 yard mark for the sixth time in seven seasons. Could you sum his seventh season and how he has established himself?
"I don't know where that stands as far as league history, how many receivers have had a 1,000 yards in six out of seven seasons, especially to start a career. That's extremely impressive."

Jerry Rice might be one of them…
"Yeah, only one of the greatest receivers of all-time so that's not bad company to be in. I think you guys know the way I feel about him. He is Mr. Dependable, Mr. Steady. When you need a play, I know I can always count on him. He's really fought through a lot throughout his career, especially this  year just battling injuries and always being there, always being present, always being ready, always being a guy you can count on. I have so much respect for him and I think he's a great guy too. Just his approach to the game and the way he works, the way he is with the younger players and his teammates, he's a quiet guy. Man, when he comes to work he's ready to work. (It was) awesome to see him have his first child this offseason too, little Austin, first Christmas. I saw him at training camp. I think it's rare to be able to be in a place where you actually can make some friendships like that for a long period of time just because there is so much turnover typically. The amount of time you have with guys is usually pretty limited. You might get three or four years with a guy at most but I look at a lot of guys on this team, and offensively especially, Myself, Marques (Colston), Devery (Henderson), Lance (Moore), (Zach) Strief, Jahri (Evans), Pierre (Thomas) for six years, there is quite a few guys that we've had six or seven years together. That's rare for this day and age and this league."

Do you think that Marques Colston'spersonality makes it harder for him to make the Pro Bowl?
"Yeah. I do. How do guys get noticed, for the fan vote and everything else? I would say that fantasy football helps because guys are getting tracked that way but if you're not making SportsCenter highlights, if you're not saying something that's getting you on TV then a lot of times people don't notice you. If you keep the helmet on and just work, you don't have a touchdown dance. There is no guy that has been steadier in this league than him at the receiver position. It's fun to watch some of these other guys, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and others, but be hard-pressed to find a guy that's as dependable and steady as Marques Colston and put up the numbers that he's put up."

He was pretty down on himself after the Dallas game. Do you say something to a guy like that or just leave him alone?
"That's what I love about him, he had ten (receptions) for 150 (153 yards) and he's mad about one drop and a fumble. That's where his heads at. He is such a prideful guy. He wants people to be able to count on him, you can tell by just the way he works. He doesn't want to let anybody down. When the play comes to him, he wants to make it. Just like any of us, I'll walk away from a game and played a great game but had that one mistake, one interception, one bad read, whatever it was, and you're going to think about it. It's going to bother you and it should because I think we all try to be perfect out there. Obviously it's hard to be that but that's what is fun about the journey, the striving for perfection and he's been that. He's done that."

Do you leave him alone after that?
"Yeah, I leave him alone. Absolutely. Marques Colston doesn't need to be told by me, or anybody, that (he needs to) catch that ball, tuck it away, whatever it is. There is no harsher critic on him than himself when it comes to those kinds of things. You love having guys like that because you don't have to police them, they police themselves."

Nationally, you guys are being mentioned as the best team not in the playoffs and the team nobody would want to play in the playoffs. Do you derive any satisfaction from that?
"No. I hate that title. I'd rather have a different title than best team not in the playoffs. You never want to hear not in the playoffs. If you worry about the things we can control, that is we want to be playing our best football at the end of the season, we want to finish strong, and we want to really have something we can build on moving forward. Over the last two weeks we've done that but we have to complete that trifecta by doing it again this week. This is the most important game of the season."

I admire that the team refused to use any offseason issue as an excuse this season but what is difference between that and saying it had no effect at all?
"Listen, we can reflect much more at the end of the season. I'd rather not even try to go too deep right now. Were there distractions? Yeah. Was there circumstances swirling around us that were just crazy and we had no idea what to expect, challenges? Yes, most definitely. But I will not allow myself, we will not allow our team, to use that as a crutch or an excuse. Others might say it doesn't matter, it affected you guys. That's fine but we're not going to go there."

Joe Vitt said that this team will go down as one of his all-time favorites. Would you agree with that?
"Yeah. I'd say if we finish this season like we want. Just what we were able to overcome, going from 0-4 to 5-5 and then from 5-8 to hopefully 8-8. That'd be a big accomplishment. A big accomplishment considering the circumstances."

Last year the offense set the record for the most yards gained. This year, the defense has a good chance of giving up the most yards. While last year it would be fair to say you were one of the most prolific offenses ever, is this defense not as bad as the stats say?
"Yeah, without a doubt. For some reason those stats seem so skewed and I don't know why. They don't tell the story about our defense. It's unfortunate that's what you read and that's what the stat line says because I look back at the production at times certainly don't feel that way."

What is the story with the defense?
"I don't know. I play offense. My job is to score more points than they do. I worry about the things that I can control."

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