New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Local Media AvailabilityWednesday, December 13, 2017 How have you seen Michael Thomas progress and develop from last year?
"Way more polished in a lot of ways. He came in really raw and there are certain innate traits that he has that you just don't find. He is extremely competitive. His work ethic is second to none. His focus and intensity during practice (is impressive). Every rep is like a game rep to him and that is really where when it comes to playing the wide receiver positon, especially as you learn the offense and began to understand the nuances and some of the adjustments that you have to be able to do on the fly. Those are all things that just take time. Going from last year where he was really raw, to now being a guy who understands the bigger picture, understands what's happening around him, understands ways to get open, understands slight variations to routes based upon a look or leverage or coverage or whatever it might be. He's really matured in that way."
Can it make a team hungrier if you are in control of your own destiny, like you guys are?
"Yeah. I live by the motto (that) you can only worry about the things that you can control. What we control is right here in front of us. Our preparation for this week and this game. It just happens to be that we also control our own destiny. In regards to where we end up at the end of the day. We keep winning then all of our hopes and dreams are alive."
Is it surprising that if Michael Thomas makes the Pro Bowl it will be the first time a receiver achieved that honor since you've been here?
"Yeah it is surprising because certainly I look at guys and say they had phenomenal years, phenomenal careers. Certainly numbers that would stack up against just about anybody, especially when you look at some of the consistency. There are a lot of guys and certainly Mike (Thomas) is very deserving. I hope it happens, but we'll see."
Is there a reason he hasn't been as well-known as Odell (Beckham Jr.) considering their numbers are almost identical in the first two seasons?
"That's you guys (the media) to make sure every knows about (him). Like I said maybe our guys are just a little more low-key and maybe they don't get the respect or the attention that they deserve based upon that, but when you look at the numbers they're right up there with a lot of the guys that make the Pro Bowl."
Is Michael Thomas so reliable that he is not as flashy as the other receivers in the league?
"No there's not (anything flashy about his game), but there is consistency and there's dependability and there's a lot to be said for that."
How formidable is this New York Jets front seven?
"It's really formidable. Every one of these guys can rush the passer, every one of them can defend the run. They're a stout group and it doesn't take you long when you turn on the film to see what they can do. We have our work cut out for us there."
Do you like this is a team that is built to win right now during this type of year, compared to maybe some of the teams you've had in the past?
"I'd say we're relatively healthy. You always hope and pray that is the case and the guys that have had to step in and play have played well and really done a good job. I feel like we've got some depth in that area as well and some experience. I think there is a confidence, there's a bit of a swagger knowing what we are capable of and at the end of the day you want to play your best football this time of year and as it carries you forward when you're accomplishing the goals that you've set for yourself."
Have you taken a step back and said I hope this is one of those seasons, since you never know how many you have left?
"There's no time for reflection right now. Right now it's about working and helping get us where we want to go, but I believe (that) we have a team that can accomplish the ultimate goal." How crucial was that extra time after the Thursday night game to get back healthy for the Jets game?
Yes, we needed those extra few days. That part was good for a lot of guys to get some extra treatment and recharge a little bit as we think about making this run."
Do you have say anything or do anything different as a leader after a tough loss like Thursday? Was there anything that needed be said or done differently to make sure that one does not linger?
"Here is what you do: you sit back you observe. You observe how the team is reacting to all of this. I feel like guys have been steady, really steady. Obviously, today getting back with our first practice and preparation for this coming week, there's no hangover from that. We are on to the next opponent, the next opportunity, the next challenge, and we will take it one at time."
We've asked you several times about Alvin Kamara because he is kind of the fresh face, but Mark Ingram II it seems like is already having a better season than last year and last year was his best season. What do you make of the way Mark is running this year?
"Thank you. There you go. Mark is having a phenomenal year and Mark is one of the heart and soul guys in this locker room. He's someone who everyone respects, someone everyone who everyone roots for, wants to block for, wants to hand-off to, wants to be successful. Just because we see the way he works and see his approach. There's not a more liked guy, not a guy who works harder, or is more positive. He creates great energy around the locker room and on gameday. He's just a great guy to be around and a guy you want to win for."
You aluded to the media hyping up Michael Thomas. Something the media may also say "this is a trap game, 5-8, starting quarterback for the first time." Do you hear something like that and think that's just nonsense?
"Again, worry about what we can control. We control our effort, performance, execution. I think if you can maintain the mindset that you are focusing on how good you can be from week to week, and understanding that you need to be playing your best football this time of your going into what is, hopefully, a playoff run. This is where we continue to stack the bricks on top of each other and continue to build what we feel like what we feel like is a team that can make a run at it."
Do you know much about Bryce Petty or was your brother a fan of his being a Baylor guy?
"There's the Baylor connection. He's a Texas kid, he went to a school south of Dallas. He was unbelievable in that Art Briles offense. I know about him from Baylor and then (he) got drafted by the Jets, he trained out in San Diego a couple years back when he was getting ready for the combine, but I didn't have a chance to meet him."
Can you give us just a quick recollection of your time working with John Morton and what you expected him to bring to the offense up there?
"I don't know if there are many guys that are harder workers then him and have more of a love for the game and enthusiasm for it. He's a grinder. He would chuckle if he heard me say that. He's just a worker. Being around for a long time, even though he's a relatively young guy, he's been around some great coaches and been a part of some great staffs with (Jon) Gruden, (Jim) Harbaugh, and obviously here with Sean (Payton) and this group. I figured he would go up there and have success, which he has. He has really done a great job."
If Ted's (Ginn Jr.) status is in doubt for Sunday, Willie (Snead IV) and Tommylee (Lewis) were probably looking for an opportunity. I was wondering if you could comment on their potential going into the game?
"Regardless of how it plays out for gameday, in regards to who is active and who is not, we have plenty of guys who can fill in and play different roles. That's the good thing about having smart and tough guys. They can play a lot of different places for you."
Willie Snead hasn't seen a lot of action this season. What are your thoughts on that?
"Obviously, he missed the first five weeks, six if you include the bye week. Just trying to get back into it. We, obviously, had a good flow and rhythm with the guys who were out there and I think Willie has done a good job when he has been in there. It's just for one reason or another it hasn't been the volume that we saw last year or the year before when he was a mainstay there. We rotate a lot of guys and we do a lot of things. There's always opportunities there for guys. It's just a matter of how it plays out.
With all your years playing football, how do you feel like you have learned to feel the pulse of a team? Knowing when you have to turn it into high gear depending on how the season is going, just feeling the ebbs and flows of a team naturally?
"It's just knowing your teammates, being in a number of different situations, being a part of a number of different teams where we had good seasons, had challenging seasons, we had times where we were rolling, and times where we had to gut it up and roll. I think just that experience has helped with that. One thing I can say about this team is despite our youth in a lot of areas, we value character, toughness, and intelligence. That's what we've brought here, that's what we've drafted, it's what we've gone out and gotten in free agency, and there's a purpose for that. It's so we don't have seasons like we had the last three years. It's so we can overcome the adversity that faces every team throughout the course of a season and also we are able to handle the success that we expect to achieve as well. We know how to continue to get better, and not get complacent, and always strive to improve. That's what I feel like we have that here."
When you have a team that is so steady after a loss, Do you feel like it's a group leadership aspect?
"It is and there is a lot of leading by example here. You can rot-rile all you want, but the bottom line is the younger guys look at the veteran guys to see how are they are handling it. When they see that they are still focused, and just working, and positive, and encouraging, and focusing on the process knowing that the end result will take care of itself, they learn from that. They learn from example."