New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
You guys have had significant roster turnover since 2013, the last time you were in the playoffs. Is that a necessity in the NFL, the turnover? I think you guys have only nine guys left from that team.
"I don't think it's a necessity. We lost a lot of guys after that 2013 season. Guys that had been here for a long time, guys that had been great leaders for this team, and really a mainstay for this team. A lot of those guys had been a part of the 2009 championship run and, certainly, the 2010 and 2011 playoff teams as well. We went through a bit of a roller coaster ride in 2014 and 2015, obviously, with the roster turning over and just trying to find ourselves again, reestablish what we had built when Sean (Payton) first got here in 2006. I think that's what was realized. We need to go out and acquire the right type of guys and really value character, toughness, and intelligence in the way that we draft and the way we go out and look at free agents. That's really been the process over the last two years. You look around the locker room, and you see those types of guys, and it's why we're successful."
How special is this for you after the last couple of years?
"To be playing, to be in the hunt, to be making a run, absolutely. This is great."
Did you have enough time to look at film with what you had earlier this week?
"Yes. Absolutely. I'll be prepared."
What was it like for you emotionally starting this week off?
"It was, obviously, very sad with the passing of my grandfather. I really came back energized from the last two days. Just being with my family, and with friends, and with guys that played for my grandfather, and just listening to their stories again. Just reemphasizing to me what a great man he was, and what a wise man he was, and just a true American hero, but not only that, he was my hero. I learned so much from him and it just reemphasizes all the important things in life, and the values and morals that I want to live by not only in the way I conduct myself as a family man and in the community, but also as a member of this team. It was a powerful few days, obviously very sad at times, but also incredible just to remember his life and his legacy."
Did you try to put football aside for a few days?
"No. I brought what I needed to bring to prepare. In-between, I did what I had to do to prepare and get ready."
When you play the same team three times in one season, how much do you need to shake up patterns?
"With division opponents, there is a level of familiarity because you're playing each other a lot. We have all been going against each other for a long time, but in these games, there's wrinkles on both sides. You always try to prepare for, or at least have the ability to make adjustments on the run when you need to. They are a very good football team, they're a very good defense, they have a lot very good players, (they are) very well-coached. For us, it's do what we do, do it very well, execute it to perfection, and make the plays when you have the opportunities."
Is Luke Kuechly as good at that cat and mouse game with you as anyone you've gone against?
"He is one of the smartest football players I've ever seen, been around, or had the chance to go against. Yes."
When you look this team's film, they have wins against New England and Minnesota and they've had some tough losses also. Is it consistent when you look at it? Is it inconsistent with what they have done and how they have done it this season?
"I think, overall, they've been pretty consistent. I think every team, just like us, you could look back on a few of those games and wish you would've done a thing or two different or felt like there was a play or two that would've made the difference. The bottom line's we are here now, we are both in the playoffs, we're hosting them, and it should be a good game."
Do your third down conversion rate numbers make sense to you as research it this year? This offense seems to be efficient in a lot of areas, but that hasn't played out on the third down numbers.
"I'm not going to make excuses. I think that if I pulled up all the third downs, I could certainly pick out one or two in each and say, 'that was one we should have made' for whatever reason. If we make those, tack on the percentage points and we would be the number one third-down offense in the league, which is where we are used to being. There's some instances in there where it's third and 15 and you're on the plus-40, your mindset is, 'let's make sure we get in field goal range.' It's not important to get the first down here and risk getting knocked out of field goal range or we took a knee, in victory (formation), on third down. I'm not worries about that third down either. There's a few of those where if you tack those on it looks a little bit better, but the bottom line is I'll focus on the ones that I know from game to game (where) there was one or two that we should have had there. Obviously, when you talk about attention to detail and room for error, when you get into the playoffs, you want to be as efficient as possible in those areas because that can be the difference between winning and losing."
You talked a lot this year about still not playing that perfect game or at different times of the season. When it comes to you specifically and the passing game specifically, what's something that you feel hasn't been perfect yet?
"Again, just like third down, you can turn on the film and say 'I feel like that was a play I felt we should have had'. That gives us an extra first down or gives us an extra seven points or three points or whatever it might be, possess the ball for another five minutes. Those are the things that again you talk about playing as close to perfect as you want to play those are the things you want to make sure you're hitting on."
First home playoff game since the 2011 season, any expectation for the atmosphere this Sunday?
"I'm sure it's going to be crazy. Our fans know what a difference they made in that Atlanta game. Obviously we stressed the importance of that. I don't think I need to stress the importance of this one. I think our fans know and I think they'll be ready."
What do you tell the rookies on your team that are doing well and this is their first playoff game? How do you help them get ready?
"You tell them it's all about the preparation during the week. I think they felt, they got a taste of what that atmosphere can be like from a few weeks back with that Atlanta game, just the importance of that and where it put us in the division. So we've got a great group of veteran guys, great group of leaders. That's been communicated throughout the week and will continue to be as we get ready for Sunday just the importance of preparation and how that carries over to gameday and then what it's going to be like on gameday."
You mentioned the roller coaster after 2013, you know your window is closing naturally since you are getting older. So how much of a sense of urgency has there been for you and how do you make that a priority and not dominate all of your thoughts?
"I approach every game the same way. I prepare like every game could be our last or it's a playoff game or I have something to prove, that I've got an edge. So it's not like 'oh the playoffs are here so let's ramp it up. Things are a little more important. It's always important, so for me the preparation is no different."
It seems like obviously a simple concept. The run game and the defense are a quarterback's best friend. Is this sort of the year you've been waiting for or hoping for where you only needed to throw for 4,400 instead of 5,400?
"It sure is nice. Does it change the way I prepare? No. Does it change my mindset going into the game? No. It is just when you add up the number of throws, I do not know what it was, but it was probably my fewest attempts in a long time…If you take away five, seven, ten attempts a game and those are going to the run game, that means you are doing something right in the run game. It probably means that you are playing good defense because you're not in a position where you have to throw the ball and make big chunks. Still, my mindset doesn't change in regards to preparation. Or the efficiency at which I want to play at. I still think positive plays. I still think taking care of the football. All those things but I think at the end of the day, what has it done for me? It doesn't force me to take as many chances."
How are you a different player now than say maybe 10 years ago? Is it the mantra older but wiser?
"Yes, I think so. Just the ability to manage a work week, understanding what is really important. There are certain things like I spend a lot more time taking care of my body now than I did 10 years ago. That's just means I have to be uber-efficient with everything I am doing in the classroom, with the film study. I know how I learn the best. I know what I need to do in order to put the days' worth of work behind me so I can move on to the next day's installation. Yes, older, wiser, more efficient."
Why do you think the week three game against the Panthers seemed to be a turning point for you guys?
"I think it validated a lot of our preparation up until that point. It's disappointing to start the season off 0-2 and listen to you guys tell us about our 0-2 start. But we knew that we were just that close. So much closer than I think that most people give us credit for. And you just needed the validation of going out there and getting the W as a result. Really I think there was like a two-game stretch there, we were on the road and then flying to London and there's that Miami game, then the bye week and it's like 'all right we rattle off eight in a row'. I think it is just the confidence to know the process is good. We're doing something right here. It's something to build on."