Drew Brees was a guest on Tuesday's Black and Blue Report with host Sean Kelley. Below are some of the highlights from the interview.
Do you and your family in any way get to celebrate Thanksgiving?
"We still go into work and we get basically most of what a normal day would be, except we kind of cut out our meetings late in the day, so that we're able to get home, mid-to-late-afternoon to our families and be able to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal and some family time."
How much of the meal do you partake in? You're very particular about what you put in your body, Drew, especially during a game week.
"Thanksgiving you have to make an exception. I don't do any of the cooking obviously being at practice, but I get to do all of the eating, which is perfect."
Was there anything that you brought from your childhood, from your family to your new family with your marriage and said 'this will be on the Thanksgiving table, that I had all my life.' Is there something like that?
"What's kind of unique is my grandma on my dad's side, she made this applesauce, homemade applesauce, and she would put Red Hots in it. It was kind of this cinnamon-spicy applesauce and that was what my brother and I looked forward to every Thanksgiving, was getting the cinnamon-spicy applesauce, so my wife has replicated that quite a few times and she does a great job, so that takes me back to my childhood."
What about watching football on Thanksgiving? I know you'll be working most of the day, but do you make sure that you catch some of the games that will be happening on this Thursday?
"That's definitely part of the Thanksgiving tradition too. We'll have just about every game on, at least in the background, so as kids are running around and we're talking with family and making food and eating food and all of that stuff, we'll definitely be tuning in. As a kid, I remember my brother and I actually getting dressed up in our sweats and jerseys and going out in the yard and playing a game of tackle football at some point in the day to reenact what was happening on TV with the NFL games."
With regard to the bye week, Drew, what do you want Saints fans to know about the impact of the bye week on your football team?
"It was much needed. We were obviously coming off, anytime mid-late season that bye week fell at the last possible week for us and by that time we were pretty banged up and could use that week just to get healthy and kind of recharge your batteries, so to speak – both physically and mentally. Emotionally it puts you into this first half of the season, second half of the season mode. First half of the season for us is over and now we've got six regular season games to really make our mark on the season and crawl our way back into this thing. We understand the huge sense of urgency, we understand the importance of each week, regardless if it's an AFC or NFC opponent or where you're playing or who you're playing. We know the job that needs to be done and we know the areas that we need to improve. Obviously, we addressed a lot of those things over the bye week, as well, so now we're ready to take the next step."
Was there a shock value at all in any way with regard to the change of the defensive coordinator? And how did your team handle it? I know you're on the offensive side of the football, but the whole locker room in general – what kind of a change was that like for you all?
"Well anytime there is a change mid-season, whether it's a coach or players or positions, or whatever it might be, this is a part on many times where it tends to shake things up. I know this – whatever is done is in the best interest of our team and the success of the team. I think to a man, everyone loved Rob Ryan and loved the passion and the energy, enthusiasm and everything that he brought to our team and, unfortunately, he's not here anymore. I think everyone has a ton of confidence in Dennis Allen, who has now been appointed as defensive coordinator and will call the defense. Again, this is a time during the bye week when we're getting guys healthy that haven't been healthy in a while so all the pieces just kind of come back together and maybe a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Let's make a run at it."
Drew, with that mindset and I'm looking at this in a very positive way – because the way the season has gone, the games that you have remaining here, these six, one could easily say, 'well, you know, give me a break' or they could say 'every single one of this is win-able' and we're having a much different conversation in six weeks. I think that's probably what you're getting at, isn't it?
"You can't win all six of them at once and you're playing some very tough opponents and I think that the Texans are playing as well as about anybody in the league right now, especially defensively, as you turn on the tape. They went 12 quarters without allowing a touchdown. That's pretty phenomenal and they've won I think three of their last five or four of their last five. They're rolling right now. So this is going to be an extremely tough test for us, on the road, but I think a great launch pad to what we think we can accomplish in these last six weeks but we've got to take care of business this week."
Speaking of the Texans, Drew, I know most Saints fans will look at the Texans and they'll see the familiar names and they'll have some idea of what they've done in these last three weeks, but what is something that you're seeing on that tape that maybe a fan should be more aware of or at least truly recognizes a challenge on the offensive side of football this week.
"I think the obvious things – JJ Watt and (Jadeveon) Clowney. Those two guys up front are monsters and then really their entire defensive line and they are a three-four scheme and any three-four teams just have a plethora of these outside pass rushing linebackers that can mix and match in the game at any time and they've got quite a few guys that are really disruptive and really productive too, especially in the last few weeks, so we've got to have our handle on protection and what we're doing there. I think in the secondary, the thing that you notice is they all have just ball skills, so they have guys that play a lot of man coverage, so you've got to have some coverage, but then their ability to knock down passes and get their hands on the ball. You see that on the film as well, so all-in-all, it's a very sound defense that is playing as well as anybody in the league right now, so our execution is going to have to be at a premium and we're going to need our best game to win."
Would you be willing to and have you given any advice to Anthony Davis as to becoming the type of leader that you are, not only with his team but also with that sport in this city? How can you help him?
"First of all, I think he is a tremendous player and I watch the way that obviously his teammates interact with him and look to him and there is no doubt that he is the presence on that team and the leader of that team and I don't think there is any better face of that team, than him, for the long term. To your point, I think any young team needs a little success in order to breed that confidence, which kind of helps build that momentum and then you start winning a bunch of games and they just start clumping together. Obviously the expectations with him and with the rest of the team are kind of high and they've been banged up here early on but I'm confident that as things come together, that team will start rolling and he will continue to evolve as a basketball player. There is no doubt that his talent level is going to be the best in the NBA for a long, long time. I think it's the other things that he learns, and I would relate it as a quarterback, that you learn early in your career. As I think about my early years, three, four, five, six in this league, those are huge growth opportunities for me, or growth years for me. Being around other veteran players – watching the way that they work, just learning to be a professional and also learning how to lead your team. I think that those are just things that you learn by experience and by being around other veteran guys that have been around and a part of it for a long time and you work that in as you prepare and just understanding the responsibility that you have and not only as a player but also kind of as a leader on the team."
How is Luke McCown doing?
"He's doing well and obviously that was an unfortunate situation with his back, having surgery and having to be out for a few months and miss the rest of the season, but I know it's what is best for him in the long term. A lot of the early stages of that are just laying on your back and just relaxing and allowing everything to heal. He said he was back in Texas, at his home there, in Jacksonville, in east Texas, just looking out his window and watching the deer run around and so he said he wished he could be up in a tree stand with a bow, but he's got to rest that back now. He's doing really well and I know he misses the team and we miss him."
Photos of Drew Brees from the 2015 season. Photos by Michael C. Hebert. New Orleans Saints photos.