Drew Brees has said that teammates have called him something in the neighborhood of annoyingly positive in the past. And the Saints' quarterback always have been able to find the silver in every lining New Orleans has been presented.
Don't doubt that he has found one, or 10, for the Saints entering Thursday's game against Atlanta in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, despite the fact that New Orleans is 1-4 and its NFC South Division rival is 5-0.
But underneath the optimism this week is brewing something other than competitiveness for Brees.
"I'm not really happy with the way that things have gone this far," he said. "You could say I'm a little bit angry, disappointed, frustrated, chip on the shoulder. I'm harnessing that into something positive."
The Saints will need to harness that, and more, in order to win their second consecutive home game this season. Coming off its worst performance of the season – Philadelphia scored 29 straight second-half points on Sunday in its 39-17 victory over the Saints – New Orleans quickly put to bed that result and moved on to its nationally televised game against the rival that swept the season series last year.
New Orleans currently is last in the league in yards allowed per game (409), tied for third in points allowed per game (28.6), 19th in scoring (20.6) and 29th in rushing (85.4).
"That's about as much (adversity) as you can get five games into the season," right tackle Zach Strief said. "You come in here and guys worked hard. You aren't seeing the dividends from that work but the makeup of the guys, the work ethic, the comaraderie of the group is still good, and that's something that you can build from. But obviously, there's no more time for building. The results have to come quickly."
And for the Saints, quickly hopefully means Thursday. Despite the fact that the Falcons are one of the league's six remaining unbeaten teams, New Orleans expects this to be a typical Saints-Falcons game.
"We very much expect to play them tough," Strief said. "They're on a roll, they're playing well, they obviously have a lot of confidence – they've come back, I think, in most of these games. It's a big challenge.
"They're rolling right now, we know what that feels like to be in that situation. But you can throw records out the window in these divisional games."
Photos of Drew Brees against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, September 7, 2014. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. (New Orleans Saints photos)