QUARTERBACK DREW BREES
On finishing the season 7-9:
"Obviously disappointing because I felt like we had a better team than our record ended up being. Unfortunately, you are what your record says you are. Certainly, there are some games as you reflect back on the season that we felt like we should have had and that really changes the complexion of everything. There always, I'll say 8-10 that are one possession games and it's how many of those are you winning? That really determines where you finish. We've had plenty of seasons here where we went 6-2 in those games, 5-3 in those games when we finished 13-3 or 11-5. Unfortunately, we didn't win enough of those this year and just fell short a few too many times to really put ourselves behind the 8-ball as we went down the stretch. We made it to where you feel like you almost have to play perfect. But I feel like, and I firmly believe this, that the times where you go through things and maybe you don't know why, but you have to realize that it's going through those tough moments is molding you, strengthening you and putting you in a position to accomplish great things in the future. Just like '07 and '08 prepared us for the '09 season, I feel like '14, '15 and '16 are preparing us for what's in store for us next year. I believe that's great things."
On whether today's lopsided first half discourages him going forward:
"No. [laughs] No because we still, I don't think anybody would have assumed that we would come back and have a chance to win this thing but we were very close. We got down in the red zone six times, and if just one play here or one play there down there all of a sudden we're going down to take the lead in this game."
On whether or not his optimism for next season is based on the offense's success:
"Well at the end of the day you hope all of that translate into wins. It's a team game and there are many facets to it. It's not just offense, it's not just defense, and it's not just special teams. It's all three together and how they're working together, how they're complementing each other. I think that there are some things we did very well this year offensively. There are definitely some things we can improve upon; I think overall we just want to be as consistent as possible. Knowing what to expect in both the run game and the pass game. Each game is going to bring different circumstances and scenarios. There are going to be games where it's a little bit tougher to run the football so you're relying more on the passing game or vice versa. Bottom line is we can continue to improve."
On what WR Michael Thomas needs to do in order to keep improving:
"I think with Mike it's about staying humble and staying hungry. Continuing to work, continuing to fine tune his game and find ways to improve. I think that his level of improvement from training camp to the start of the season to now the end of the season, he grew in leaps and bounds. He's in a great receiver room with those guys man. They work hard, they elevate each other's play, they push one another and I think they all realize how great they can be within this system and this offense.
On another season with 5,000 passing yards:
"Well, I wish all that would have translated into more wins."
On whether or not Head Coach Sean Payton has given him any indication on his future in New Orleans:
"I have no reason to believe otherwise, I mean Sean Payton is our head coach."
On Mark Ingram rushing for 1,000 yards:
"So well deserved, he's a warrior who battled all year long and really came up with some big-time contributions throughout the season. It's a big deal for a rusher to have 1,000 yards and he earned every bit of that. There's not a guy I root for than Mark."
On the Saints offensive line's production throughout the season:
"I love those guys so much, they're such a stellar group. Look at the production; that says a lot, but just the type of men they are and the way they approach their work with such a level of professionalism and yet at the same time they know how to have a good time. They're on each other, they push one another, they have fun doing it, though. Practice, games, you name it. They're a tight group; a tight group, a really special group and a lot of those guys have played a lot of football. I hope that we can keep it all intact. I do. I love those guys and I feel like we have some more work to do."
On Head Coach Sean Payton's commitment to the team:
"Honestly, I don't know where you guys are getting this stuff. Honestly. [Laughs] I guess anybody can just write whatever they want and all of a sudden people think that it's fact. I think it's completely made up, to be honest with you. Coach Payton is our head coach and that's that."