New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees - Post-Practice Media Availability - Wednesday, January 2, 2019
How unusual is this kind of week where (it's the) middle of the season and there's not necessarily a team to prep for and you are just kind of working on yourself? Is that unusual for you to not have that you know game prep?
"It is unusual, but it is exciting. It is the position you want to be in so (it is) different than a bye week during the season where you know who the upcoming opponents are going to be. You still approach that bye week similar to what we are doing now which is rest and recovery first and foremost. That is the benefit of the bye week and you get to basically leapfrog the first round of games and go right to the second round and you get to host it. So all those are good things. (We are) really just focused on ourselves right now. Getting guys rested. Getting guys recovered. Focusing on some details. A chance to self-scout a little bit. Take a look at some snaps from the season and see the areas that we really want improve upon this week as we approach our next game."
How much is gained from that introspection at this time of the year?
"It's good. It's good just because you're so focused week to week during the season that you really don't have time to go back in and self-evaluate too much. It's on to the next opponent, onto the next opponent. You start grinding on that film and putting together a game plan and this gives you a chance to really take a step back take a good hard look at yourself and then say 'wow you know I thought that was much better than it is.' Obviously, we need to make some improvements and then maybe there are some other stuff where (you say), wow this has been pretty good for us. Let is continue to build on that."
Is there one point that maybe you are hitting on right now more than anything else? Is there something that as you self-evaluate you are kind of sitting on right now?
"Yes. Again, just some of the finer details. the timing, the rhythm. Just keeping that as we as we move into next week and really start game planning specifically for an opponent."
Is there any more pressure to being the number one seed or no?
"No, I don't think we look at it that way. Again, we're focused on ourselves right now and then once we know who we're playing then you just prepare for it like it's any other game. If you approach every game during the season like it's the most important game of the season then is this game any different? Not for me."
What did you think of Sam Ehlinger and his play last night and him wearing your high school jersey pregame?
"It was awesome. He played great last night. He is a stud man. He is a tough guy. His team played great. Obviously, they were ready to play. (They had) a good gameplan. It was fun watching their offense. Obviously, they ask him to do a lot. He is a grinder. What did he have, like 21 carries for 70 yards, three touchdowns? He's running QB power, just three yards in a cloud of dust man. It was fun to watch. He was rocking the Westlake Chaparrals jersey walking in the stadium. I thought that was cool. He said he was trying to get some of that mojo."
Did you know your old high school jersey existed?
"No, I did not. Did he have to get that specially made or just put a call into the AD or the head coach and borrow it? I do not know, but it was cool because somebody sent me the picture and then I put it up on social media and shot him the text. He shot me a text this morning. I was putting my boys to bed last night, but I got a chance to watch most of the second half and it was fun to watch them."
What did you tell him in the text and what did he say back?
"Just congratulations. He played big. His team played great, but he was obviously the leader and the catalyst for the team and the offense. (I'm) Just happy for his success. Man, he's a great kid and I feel like I've seen him grow up a little bit just knowing him ever since middle school, high school, and just some of his goals and aspirations. I think he's always envisioned himself being in that position. Playing for the University of Texas, the hometown team, and leading them at quarterback. He's done a phenomenal job of that in his first two years. (He's) Still young. His future is very bright."
You have always been good about throwing to the open guy whoever that is. How unusual is it to have a receiver with a 125 catches and 1,400 yards this season and what does that say about Mike (Thomas)?
"It's pretty awesome. That says a lot about him, obviously, he gets a lot of attention. It is not like they just put him on an island every game. He's getting a lot of double coverage. He is getting a lot of safeties leaning his way and different things. He has to work hard to get open and he does. He does a great job of that. He is highly competitive. He expects to be the guy to get the ball and make the big play so that's great. It also opens up opportunities for other guys. We've gotten into games this year where a team is really going to try to take away Mike (Thomas) and that's where the other guys (have) got to step up and make plays and they've done that and we've got to continue to work on that as well."
Have you made more throws than ever before in your three years with him where you say I don't care who's covering him, I need to get this ball to Mike because we need a first down?
"You make good, wise decisions. Smart decisions. If he's one-on-one, I like our odds. Even when he's two-on-one, it had better be a really good two-on-one or else there's usually still a place you can throw the ball where he can get it and they can't. You assess that. That's my job as a quarterback. Be a great decision maker, get the ball in the hands of the playmakers, but you'll make those good decisions."
How much have you seen Alvin Kamara grow as a receiver from year one to year two now?
"A lot. I do not know how his numbers compare from last year to this year, but he's reliable and I know what he is going to do. We ask him to do a lot. Do a lot from the backfield, do a lot splitting him out, putting him in motion, (and) different things. His versatility's really valuable. I feel like his route tree's broadened from last year to this year."
Do you look at any film this week on Philadelphia, Dallas, or Seattle or is it just kind of futile effort until after this weekend's game?
"We've been watching a lot of cut ups. Some cut ups on us and watching some cut ups of other people just to see what they're doing just to maybe gather some information not just about defensive schemes, but offensively things that we can incorporate into what we are doing. Similar to what we already do, but maybe some nuances. Just trying to get better."
Do you look at Seattle more just because you haven't played them at all?
"No. Again, I am not watching any film with the intent of studying for the next opponent. I do not know who it's going to be yet."
Is there a different kind of playoff intensity when the playoffs arrive?
"Well I said it earlier. If you approach every game during the season like it's the most important game, then I don't think there's any difference. It's not like, 'oh it's time to crank it up now.' We've been cranking it up. I've had the same approach, had the same preparation, had that same process so that when these games come around it's to me I've been there. Been there done that, but of course just understanding that it is a single elimination tournament right? It's win or go home and, obviously, we want to win."
You said before the season you thought Andrew Luck could win NFL Comeback Player of the Year after you talked to him? You talked about how you had given him some advice about coming back from the injury?
"Am I right?"
Do you feel good about that statement?
"I feel really good about that statement (laughs). How do you guys feel about that statement?"
Well, you know there's an all-star team of guys. J.J. Watt is probably going to give him a run for his money but what has impressed you about Luck's season?
"Understanding what he's overcome, I do not think anybody understands the significance of a throwing shoulder injury for an NFL quarterback. And not just coming back from that, but then continuing to strengthen it and gain confidence in it. And it is not like you are just sitting back there in seven-on-seven. You are getting hit. I have always admired his toughness and his ability to overcome odds in tough circumstances, and tough situations, and play through a lot. I think they have continued to build the pieces around him. They're playing really good football right now. They're playing with a ton of confidence. You can see it – you can feel it when you watch the games. Obviously he's the leader. He's the guy that that everybody kind of rallies around on offense and they're doing some good things. They're fun to watch."
What are your thoughts on Mrs. (Gayle) Benson's first year with sole ownership of the organization?
"She's phenomenal. She's truly one of the sweetest, most caring, thoughtful people I've ever met or known. And I think she brought out the best in Mr. (Tom) Benson that way –just how generous they both were. Obviously, with his passing, I think we all knew that the organization was in really good hands with her and the leadership team that they built here with the executive staff. But I think she is an unbelievable representative of the organization. She's so classy. And again, we respect her so much and we know that if there's anything we need as an organization, it was like this with Mr. Benson, I think she's just carrying this on – that is, if there's something that can help us be better, help us win, and help us be more successful, put us into better position to succeed – they're willing to spend the money to do that. Just look around you at this locker room and the renovations that have taken place with this building, and with the meeting room facilities and practice facilities. Just different things that they've gone out of their way to do to make sure that we have the best environment that's conducive to building this culture that's ripe to build a winner. So we all respect that very much."
Is Mike Thomas one of the more intense teammates you've had?
"Oh, for sure. Yeah, for sure. Highly competitive. Every rep is a game rep, playoff rep, Super Bowl rep, whatever you want to call it, it is meaningful. It is the most important play. There's only one speed. There's few guys you play with in your career where you can legitimately say only one speed. Like every time there's a walk-thru, we have to remind Mike (Thomas) it is a walk-thru. Tone it down. Let's wait till practice to start cranking it up and running people over.' But Darren Sproles is that way, and there's some other guys. But these guys are fun to be around because once they flip the switch man, it's time to roll."
Can you comment on the passing of Tyler Trent?
"You guys know Tyler Trent. He's a young man from Indianapolis. Huge Purdue supporter, student. Had overcome cancer, but then it came back. He was such an inspiration for that team this year. And that Ohio State game was pretty magical. Pretty unbelievable. He predicted the win over Ohio State and of course the team goes out and does it and brings him on the field after and in the locker room, just phenomenal. You just got the feeling that he was hanging on to watch the Boilermakers play. He kind of made it known that that was one of his favorite things to do and he was such a strong supporter. And I think the guys loved him for that. He's responsible for at least a few victories this year alone. It was really sad to see his passing, but knowing that he'll be remembered forever and really important part of that program."
This is sort of an odd stat I am wondering if you think there is any merit to, but since 1999, quarterbacks that are 35 and older are 13-4 at home in the divisional playoff round. How much do you think that's more of a benefit for older quarterbacks?
"We'll take the rest when we can get it. But here is the thing, I am doing something every day you know? I am doing something every day to get ready to play this game. Whether it's something physical or mental. Something having to do with recovery. Whatever it might be. So, I know that as you get older, you've got to do something every day (laughs). You can't take days off."
Was there a point in your career where approaching 75 percent completion percentages seemed unrealistic? Probably since 2009 you were always in that neighborhood. Are you able to appreciate that sustained level of success?
"I just have a level of expectation for myself, and a bar that I have set for myself, and we work at it. It takes an entire group and it starts with the guys up front, goes to the receiver's catching the ball, tight ends, backs, everybody in protection and running routes and timing. I mean there is so much that goes into that. So much. I know this; completions usually equal positive plays, positive plays move the chains, moving the chain scores points, scoring points wins games. So you just focus on getting the ball in the hands of your playmakers as early and often as possible. Good things happen. But we work with that. That's not easy. We work hard at it."
How do NFL players feel how much of a factor relative health and freshness is and how do you feel like that has gone this season with this team in that regard?
"Obviously staying healthy is very important for any team that's making a run. You want to have the right guys in the key places. But just as far as rest in particular, man, having that bye week after the Monday night game was good for us. Then we go on the road I think at Baltimore the following week and we get a big win. We get that – after the Thursday night game at Dallas, we get a few extra days and then go on the road and get a big win to win the division at Tampa. Now we get a bye week going into our opening playoff game. And hopefully you know the result is the same. Where that rest pays off and allows us to go out there with great energy and emotion and execution."