New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees - Post-Practice Media Availability - Wednesday, January 16, 2019
This is your third NFC championship game, but first in nine years. Does the time differential give you a different appreciation for it or have you always had the same appreciation for how hard it is to get to this point?
"I think I've always had that appreciation. Listen, I had the chance to be a part of some great teams here and a lot of playoff games. Three NFC championship games in 13 years. It's a hard game to get to that's for sure so we won't take that for granted."
When you look at their defense, how different are they with Aqib Talib in there than maybe the first time you saw them?
"He is one of the captains for their defense. He is a veteran player so there is a presence there. There's a level of leadership. Obviously, he's a very productive player. They've got two elite corners. You saw them make those moves in the offseason and so you knew the intent of that. He's a difference-maker."
Marcus Peters wasn't happy about some of the things that Sean (Payton) said after the first game. Have you followed any of that? I'm guessing you saw it.
"I think I saw one thing, but I really haven't followed it."
Are you trying your best to avoid it?
Getting to this game, is that something that the younger players already understand or is it something where you have to say, hey guys, it's not that easy to get here and you can't expect to be here every year?
"I think that's been well communicated really as we've journeyed through the season here and as we've hit every benchmark and hit every level that we aspired to get to. Don't take it for granted. Appreciate it. It takes a lot of hard work to get here. We are still a young team in a lot of areas, but we also have a lot of great veteran leadership. I think those guys throughout the season have done a great job in making sure that's communicated to guys and guys understand that."
Specifically, from 2009, what stands out about that NFC Championship Game against the Vikings, the atmosphere, the build up to it, and everything about it?
"It was crazy. It was electric. I'd say to that year, obviously, we were tracking (Vikings). The Vikings were tracking (us) so I think we all felt like that is who we were going to see in the NFC Championship Game. I think this year, in many respects, that was that was kind of the same idea. As we looked across the league and saw what the Rams were doing and the success that they were having. They're (a) phenomenal team and they had a great season. Obviously, we played them midseason and it was a hard fought game on both sides of the ball. But I think we had a feeling then that obviously we aspired to be in this situation and we all had a feeling that they were going to be the team that that we might face again. So here we are."
What do you think Sean (Payton's) best attribute is as a play-caller?
"I think Sean has a great feel for the game. We have a pretty extensive play call list. The writing is so small you can hardly read it there's so many plays on that thing. I think what it is is he's got all that there at his discretion depending on what he's feeling and then the situation in the game and obviously we have a plan. We talk about that extensively throughout the week as far as what we are looking for. If they start playing this in a bunch of this then we have got this package of stuff we can get to. First time we get to a fourth down and short, this is what I want to call. Here is our critical situation call if we're trying to get into field goal range. Here's our fourth-and-two call going in to score just like we did against the Eagles in the second quarter to score that touchdown which was a critical play in the game. You talk about these situations and obviously these are in his memory bank. So the minute he feels like this is the time, this is the situation, he is able to dial it up. We all know it is coming because we have talked about it and so a lot of confidence comes with that."
How much do you appreciate that synergy between you and your head coach?
"I appreciate it a lot. Listen, we've had a lot of time together. There's things that we can reference that might be unique to our relationship different than others. We've had 13 years together. Something can come up through the course of the game and we can midstream adjust very fast. We can reference something that happened this season or reference something that happened 10 years ago based upon a look that we're seeing or just a situation. I think that's unique."
The details of the offense, route depth, spacing things like that. What's the process during the practice week of you guys kind of honing in on what you want to do with that stuff individually?
"This is why you spend so much time in the offseason as well. We have a base offense and then we evolve and build off of that offense. We are very gameplan oriented. So each and every week, there's very few calls replicated from the week before and if they are it's new shifts, motions, formations, personnel groups potentially. So we change things up quite a bit. There's a lot of time on task that takes place during the week just to absorb all of that, but I'd say the concepts and the splits and the depths and a lot of the stuff that we're doing is stuff that we rep, we rep, we rep. From offseason until through the preseason until now so there's a lot of time on task that's taken place and a lot of muscle memory and so there's a lot of trust and confidence that comes with that."
What's it like going against Wade Phillips as many times as you have? Is it a chess match where he tries to keep you guessing or there's something you always know you're going to face against him?
"It's always an aggressive style of defense. It's like they always have great pass rushers. They always get after the quarterback. That has been a trademark of his defenses for a long time. So he's not afraid to dial it up, but I've got a ton of respect for him and how hard he has his defenses playing all the time."
You mentioned that fourth-and-two situation on Sunday. How much do you guys look forward to those considering the amount of success that you've had in those fourth down situations?
"I think we would have liked to have scored on third down, but if we have to score on a fourth down you want to have your call ready and have the right call ready. Again, that's why you practice. That's why you plan because you don't want to get caught in a situation and feel like you don't have an answer. Part of reason you work so hard and the reason everybody stays up so late in the week is to make sure that we have the calls that we're confident with when it comes to those situations.
You've mentioned before that you guys have won games in multiple ways so how much more confidence does that give you going into the NFC Championship game when there's a number of ways you guys can prepare to win a game?
"As an example, obviously we didn't start the way we wanted to this last playoff game where we get down 14-0 after the first two series, but nobody blinked. Nobody flinched. Obviously, that's not the way we want to start, but we knew we could overcome that and I feel like we've overcome a lot of situations throughout the season, especially over the last six weeks. I think that does give us a lot of confidence just knowing that we can win in a lot of different ways and no matter what the situation. Listen, you play a team like this you know it's going to be hard for. You know it's going to come down to the last possession more than likely. You feel like everybody on the field on our side of the ball offense, defense, special teams if there's a play that needs to be made we can make it."
With their pass rush, specifically on the interior, is the quick passing game something that you talk to Sean (Payton) more about this week maybe more so than a previous week or is that something you consider?
"I think we mix it up a lot. We try to be very diverse in what we do. We always try to give defenses a lot to think about. A lot to worry about. With our formations, with our personnel groups, with our shifts, motions, with our run game, our play action, our drop back, our screen game, you name it. We always go in every game with a lot of stuff."
How did you balance your birthday and Baylen's birthday yesterday with your normal game week prep?
"Yesterday was a very normal day for me. Come in early and then get grinding on the film, and get home in time for dinner, and hang out with the kids, and have a little cake, and reading bedtime stories, and tell them to quit talking and laughing and go to bed."
It seems like from the pictures from your party that you're embracing turning 40 and not running from it. Could you reflect on how much has changed since the last time you were in this game and Baylen (Brees) was one and probably can't remember it and now you have four kids. How special it is to have them for this one?
"Yes, they will. They are so football-crazed right now. That is what makes it so much fun. I asked my middle (Bowen) the other day, we just we had some one-on-one time and said hey what is your most favorite thing to do. He said, 'go to the Saints facility with dad.' That kind of stuff is what memories are made of and you want them to enjoy those moments as much as possible and give them those moments as much as possible. Listen, they love football, they love the Saints, they love our team, they love this season and we're just trying to stay in the moment and enjoy it as much as we can."
Terron (Armstead) finally got some accolades this year. What if anything is different about the way he played?
"I don't think anything was different. I think that for any young player, especially maybe offensive line, defensive line, you typically have a Pro Bowl season where you don't get selected before you actually get selected, right? It takes that year for everybody to say who is this guy and then finally you get the respect you deserve. So I feel like he's been playing at a high level for a long time and it's great to see him get the recognition he deserves.
He's dealt with injuries for his whole career. How tough is it to see him lose a third of the season on really a fluke thing?
"Listen, that's a part of this game unfortunately, but he's battled through a lot throughout his entire career and obviously this year as well. I'm just glad to have back at this stretch."
Jared Goff's talked about what spending time with you at the Pro Bowl meant for him and you offered him some advice. You have done that with some young quarterbacks in the past. You said he might become your rival for a big game like this. Why it was important for you to be able to do something like that for someone like him?
"I was a first-, second-, third-year player in this league at one point and had an incredible mentor in Doug Flutie in San Diego. I remember one of my first conversations with him was, at some point, you and I are going to be competing against each other for the starting job. They drafted you in the second round and I think Doug was 39 at the time, and yet still playing at such a high level. I learned so much from him. He was such a competitor. In my opinion, (he's) still one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play professional football at a ton of different levels right? USFL, CFL, NFL you name it. (He) Never got the respect he deserved. I have had other guys too. I remember during the Super Bowl run in '09 having Trent Dilfer reach out to me and having Kurt Warner reach out to me and other guys just to kind of offer some words of wisdom and advice as to how to approach that week and that kind of thing. Throughout my career, especially early on, I had a ton of guys that I'd speak to whether directly or just indirectly. Maybe they would see me and offer it. I always appreciated that. I always felt like I made a difference and I told myself at that time that hopefully I can play long enough to where there are guys that start asking advice from me. I want to make sure that I pay it forward just like those guys did with me."
What do you see in (Jared) Goff in particular?
"He's just tremendous. There's not many guys that are just better pure passers, throwers. You watch what they do with their offense. There's a lot of moving parts and I think he handles it very very well. I think he creates great timing and rhythm in the passing game and obviously he had a phenomenal season last year, but he's had an even better season this year. Future is really bright for him."