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John DeShazier: Takeaways from Drew Brees' Buccaneers week media session

Brees: 'They’re playing exceptionally well'

Check out the best photos of QB Drew Brees vs. Panthers on Thursday Night Football on November 17, 2016.

Brief topics lifted from the Wednesday news conference of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees:

  1. Tampa Bay is cresting at the right time defensively, which has coincided with a 5-2 record since its bye week and a four-game winning streak. The Buccaneers, since the start of Week 5, lead the NFL with 20 takeaways (10 interceptions, 10 fumble recoveries) and lead the league with 11 fumble recoveries this season. "Especially the last four weeks, they're probably playing about as good as any defense in football – not only the turnovers they're generating, but just limiting teams to a low number of points and opportunities," Brees said. "They're playing exceptionally well, really in all phases. They've been very opportunistic and make a lot of plays on the ball in the secondary and strip-fumbles. You turn on the tape, you see a lot of that stuff."
  1. The Buccaneer defense now is being coordinated by Mike Smith, who was head coach in Atlanta from 2008-14. That might provide a bit of familiarity for Brees. "Maybe some (similarities), but I'd say there are some differences as well. I think you pick things up along the way, you evolve and you also play to your personnel. I think they've got some very good personnel and they're doing a very good job right now." In the last four games Tampa Bay has allowed 53 points, an average of 13.3 per game.
  1. Brees and his wife, Brittany, were among the support group in court Tuesday for Racquel Smith,*the wife of former Saints defensive endWill Smith, who was killed in April.Cardell Hayes *was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death and his trial began Tuesday. "I can't imagine what that process is like for Racquel and the whole Smith family," Brees said. "So, for us to be able to be there to show our support for her, and hopefully give her some strength as she goes through this process, we felt like that was important."
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