QUARTERBACK DREW BREES
On a where he feels the teams rhythm is going into the playoffs:
"I think it was really good. I mean, really, for us as a team, I mean, especially down the stretch here, you're playing for so much each and every week. And, obviously, we've endured a lot throughout this season with injuries and having various guys down at key positions throughout. Obviously, we were dealt kind of a crazy hand with the running backs situation going into this game. But, man, says so much about our team, the way that we've been able to respond. And also I think we've been able to see a lot out of young players that now are playing more pivotal roles for us. And so as we kind of go into the playoffs here, I think, obviously, we wanted to end the season continuing to ascend. And I think for me, just continuing to feel healthier and more comfortable each and every week coming off my injury. I know we get Mike Thomas back, I think the last three weeks being down have been great for him. And we'll just take it one step at a time here. But bottom line is we know that in order to play our best, in order to achieve the goals that we want to achieve, we've got to have the same approach each and every week with our preparation, with our work habits and everything we do. We don't just show up and play. We put that time, effort and sense of urgency in throughout the week, so that we can get the result we want on Sunday's."
On Ty Montgomery's impact with the running back room being out due to COVID-19:
"Yeah. "Listen, a testament to him because honestly, it wasn't until Saturday morning that we realized that we were going to be out all the running backs and Ty had a significant role as a receiver in this game just like he did last week against the Vikings at receiver. And so all of a sudden, it's like hey, switch gears, Ty is now running back, Tony Jones you're coming up from practice squad running back. And, alright, here's the receivers that now are going to be up to kind of fill this role that Ty had as a receiver and you can just imagine all the kind of moving and shaking and chess pieces that kind of need to be flipped around. And then you kind of go into the gameplan and just making sure that everybody's comfortable with what we're doing, but can't say enough about our coaching staff to be able to do that and also Ty and the job that he did."
On what he saw on the touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders:
"Yeah, honestly, I'm trying to try to remember that one (laughter). Help me out. Yeah, I'm seriously having a blank here on Emmanuel's touchdown. I remember Jared (Cook's), I remember Austin (Carr's). I just know we were trying to get Emmanuel at least eight catches in this game (laughter). So down the stretch, you're just trying to feed him. Obviously, he's always a great matchup and a guy that you're trying to feed the ball to. But for the life of me, I am not visualizing his touchdown right now. I'll think of it as we keep talking here."
On how cognizant he was of the other scores with two other teams competing for the number one seed in the NFC:
"Just shut it off. Just shut it off, play ball. Know if we take care of our business, maybe those pieces fall into place maybe not, but regardless, just control what we can control. And yes, I do remember the Emmanuel touchdown now. Yeah, it was a nice little check play action. He kind of found a little soft spot in the middle of a defense and we were able to fit it in there. But that was good scheme, good play call and good execution."
On what he remembers from Saturday's walkthrough and having to rearrange so many pieces:
"Yeah, like I said, man, there was some stress on Saturday just from the moment that we got in the building and realize that we're down all our running backs and fullback and let me just think of, all of a sudden those, just making sure that, alright we're shifting the roster around a little bit and then now these are the roles that these guys. I mean, a lot of times when you gameplan throughout the week you're game planning for the guys that are going to be in there so all of a sudden, guys are out, we had game planned some stuff for Ty at receiver, all of a sudden he is now in the backfield. So had ramifications in a couple different areas, fullback, running back, slot receiver. But then again, I mean, listen, this is why you practice so much right? From training camp to preseason, which we didn't have this year, to the regular season and additional reps after practice and all the stuff that you do in the event that something like this happens, you try to be prepared for it."
On Sean Payton's job this year to get to 12-4 despite multiple injuries:
"Listen, phenomenal job. He's always been such a great leader with this team, with the staff, I mean, really, in the whole building. Obviously, we were in this COVID season where there were just so many unknowns. It felt like rules and protocols were changing weekly, then combine that with the number of injuries and various situations that we kind of found ourselves in this year. And the roster having to shift and I was down for a few games. Jameis comes in and plays great, Taysom comes in plays great, you build the game plan around those guys. Defensively, having starting corners down at times and other guys coming up, I felt like DA did a great job on the defensive side of the ball and all the guys there and the entire staff. I think Sean will be the first one to tell you that, man, it's about the culture that we've created here. And it's about the staff. It's about the way the guys care about one another. But he's certainly done a tremendous job."
DEFENSIVE END TREY HENDRICKSON
How did it feel to you to get back out there and especially have a sack on that first drive?
"Well, winning is the best feeling. That's what I missed last week, being with the guys and blood, sweat and tears out there. It's really special to get wins, especially on Sundays. But it's just great to be back out there with the guys."
Were you at the game last week? Or did you have to watch from home?
"Yeah, I wanted to be on the sidelines and do my part as in like, if I could pick something up from an offensive tackle or a tight end alignment, I was going to do that for the guys."
What's it say about this team, like, do you think your guys' identity is just that you can overcome basically any circumstance? And what does that do for a team in the playoffs, just being as battle tested as you guys are right now?
"Well, you know, I mean, we've been doing that since I've been a part of this team. It's s always been that mentality of next man-up and get on to the next one, and all these kinds of things. So you can't say enough about the culture that we've created in this locker room and I've been fortunate enough to be a part of. And, like, going into the playoffs, it's good to have a win and get rolling on this thing."
It wasn't just you coming back today, Malcom Brown was back too. How big is that for y'all? Especially on the front, going into the playoffs that y'all are healthy?
"Well, it's just another tool in the toolbox. That's how we are as a D line as long as the attack stays at a consistent level, and we wear these guys out and get after the quarterback and stop the run up front. That's what makes us special."
Five interceptions on defense. I think the last time the Saints did that was almost 30 years ago. How much fun does it become when it gets like that, you can see guys talking a lot, just what was it like on the field, it had to be fun?
"Yeah It was definitely electric, getting after the passer, getting them to throw bad throws, and then the coverage was great, because we were getting after the quarterback all night. So, that was one of the keys to victory. And we executed and you can't say enough about our defense, playing and execution."
Just as a teammate, how have you seen Carl Granderson come along and then especially just these last few weeks how he's been playing?
"The guy works day in and day out. It's one of those things where, I've been in a similar situation to that where you don't know what week you're going to be playing or even wearing a ball cap. And to work week in and week out with not a bone at the end of the like, light at the end of the tunnel, I guess for lack of a better word. It speaks a lot to his character and that he was prepared to win this week and he executed."
What's the challenge of that? When you don't know when your next snap is going to come?
"Well, it's a mental game for one, and you're a team guy, and you got to be all in. But I mean, I'm telling you, like to prepare like he has these weeks not knowing if he's gonna play or not. It's something special."
Your thoughts about making a run in the playoffs and how you're feeling about this defense entering the postseason?
"It's nameless, faceless, and we're ready to prepare for the next game plan on Monday and get after it."
You finished with 13 and a half sacks. If I had told you that preseason that you were gonna get that many, like, did you think you could put up numbers like that?
"I've always had that belief and I surrounded myself, my family, I can't say enough about my family and my wife for all the support that they've given me. And believing in me when you kind of have to quiet the noise and just go to work. So, I really can't say enough about my family and I kept the faith and all the glory goes to God."
SAFETY MALCOLM JENKINS
How good was it having Trey (Hendrickson) back this week, 13 and a half sacks in total for the regular season and having the defensive front healthy?
"I mean, anytime we got Trey (Hendrickson) on the field, we're a better defense. He's been super, super productive this year. I don't know if he's leading or if he's in the second spot for sacks. But you know, that means a lot to our defense as far as production. So, happy to have him back out there, happy he's still making plays. I'm going to brag on him, because he should have been in the Pro Bowl, should have got all the accolades that come with, the amount of production he's had this year. But, a lot of guys contributed today."
Five interceptions as a team, is there a point when it sort of feeds off itself when sort of everybody wants to get one?
"Oh, one-hundred percent and it's a team thing, our offense, put up enough points to really make it one dimensional. And then, when the offense is one dimensional, you got opportunities to make plays on the football and we had multiple guys come in and contribute. And to see that production from some of the young guys was really encouraging, shows, speaks to the depth that we have, speaks to our coaching staff, and how they have young guys prepared, in a game that we needed. And so, it was exciting."
Starting your NFL career with this franchise over a decade ago, now making your way back, just your feelings about trying to make a run at another Super Bowl with this group entering the playoffs?
"Yeah, you know, with all the context that surrounds the playoffs and the game, you got to really just stay focused, one week at a time. And do what you gotta do to prepare to win one game. It's going to be a lot about, playoffs past, and the history and all that stuff. But really, all that matters is what's right in front of us. And that's this first playoff game, when we figure out when that is."
You answered about all of the picks collectively, but how cool was it to see Grant Haley get his first pick today? In the end zone?
"It was huge, we said it going into the game, we wanted to see these young players come out and play with confidence and play and make plays. Because they prepare hard. All year, they're on the scout teams, they're giving us a look. And now there's an opportunity for them to play in a game that counts and that matters, that we need as a team. And to see Grant (Haley) go out there and make a play with his little amount of experience as he's had out there, with this group, was fun. And to see so many other guys contribute on special teams, on defense, on offense. It's a fun win for us as a team."
With a lot of COVID outbreaks around the league, and in light of what happened yesterday. Do the captains have to talk to their teammates, maybe just about reminding everyone to be careful going into the playoffs, like is that something y'all have thought about?
"I mean, it's something that we've talked about all year. And we know some things are out of our control, but we want to do as much as we can to possibly give ourselves the best chance in the postseason. And, to do that you've got to have guys available. So, that's going to come with some sacrifices, being smart, pretty much isolating yourself. But, we also understand that in a pandemic, some things happen. But we're trying our best to make sure that we limit the amount of exposure we have, because we have what we want right in front of us, and we can't miss guys as we move forward in the playoffs."
Just to kind of follow up on the leadership thing, when you won the Super Bowl here, you were kind of the rookie, following the leaders in some regard. Do you remember those days? And I mean, obviously, you won a Super Bowl with Philadelphia as well. But, now kind of being the locker room leader and letting everybody know that this is kind of a different experience being in the playoffs with a legitimate chance to win at all?
"Yeah, I've obviously got playoff experience and experience in going all the way. And for me, what's been one of the lessons I learned, especially early on, is to just be yourself the whole time. Nothing changes about the rules of the game, the size of the field is the same, the size of the football is the same. Everything's the same, whether it's the preseason, or it's the postseason. The only thing that changes are the circumstances around the game. And so for us, we need to focus just on our job, having fun, executing like we do any other game and not make it bigger than it is."
What was it like for you to see Ty Montgomery just step in and just kind of casually rip up a 100-yard game after I mean, like one carry all season?
"Yeah, I wouldn't call it casually. He's somebody who's prepared and has been a back in this league that has had success, just happens to be behind a few really good ones in this offense. So, I think everybody felt really good about Ty (Montgomery) coming in the game, knowing that he's going to be able to carry the rock and really carry that load. And yeah, rip off 100 yards like it's any other Sunday was fun to watch. Happy for him. He's somebody who grinds all year and he's able to play the role when we call upon him, he's ready. Not a selfish guy, moves around, plays different positions and for him to get his opportunity tonight was fun to watch."
WIDE RECEIVER EMMANUEL SANDERS
On how it felt to get his eighth catch today, earning him a contract incentive:
"It felt great. But I think the best part is just winning as a team, right? We were able to get the win. Obviously, we were pulling for Chicago, they didn't get it. So we got the number two seed and we're heading into the playoffs, and I'm looking forward to it. I know that the intensity is going to be turned up more, the speed is going to be faster. And we've got to be ready for it, we've got to be prepared for it, but I'm looking forward to it."
On how important Ty Montgomery's 100 yards on the ground was:
"Yeah. If you think about just Ty Montgomery in general and just what he did for Green Bay and what he's capable of doing, he was just himself today. And that's what I told him before the game. I said, 'you don't have to be anything more than just yourself.' And that's what he did. He came out, he prepared all week for receiver at the F position and then obviously the COVID situation hit and he had to play running back. When I found out we had Ty Montgomery on this team, I knew it was a great pickup because he just, he provides so much depth at so many different positions. I was rooting for him to get that 100 yard game in the fourth and he ended up getting it. I was extremely happy for him."
On he'd describe Saturday's practice leading up to the game:
"Yeah, I mean, welcome to, well, I would say 2020, but we're 21 now. Welcome to COVID football, right? You got to be prepared for anything. It's crazy because Sean Payton was telling us even prior to season, he said it can hit at any moment and be prepared for anything we all kind of know that. So there's really no shock with this anymore. It's like, alright, this happened. Alright, we got to, next man up mentality and I know that's what everybody says, but it's true. That's the mindset and I was just happy for the guys who got an opportunity to showcase their talents today and they made the most of it."
On the team's ability to win games with so many guys out at different times throughout the season:
"Yeah, I think that's the credit to Sean Payton. He's one of the best coaches I've ever played for and I've enjoyed just being around him and being around his energy, being around his intellect. When you go into a game and know he's the coach, he's calling the plays, that he's setting it up, it makes you feel good as a player. Makes you feel good as a receiver and it's just a credit to him. To me, Coach of the Year, obviously. There's been a lot of good coaches, but just seeing the day to day grind and how he's handled this whole COVID and handle Drew being out and Alvin been out and Mike being out and, really, all of his big-time players and showcasing the will and the poise to say you know what, this is how we're going to handle this, we're not going to go into panic mode and so it's a big credit to him."
On if he feels like this team has formed it's identity off of adversity and what that can do for a team:
"Truthfully, I don't really even know our identity. I think that we just go into games and say, hey, look, we're going to try this, we're going to try that and if it works, then that's what we're going to go with. We got Alvin Kamara. Once he gets back, we got him at running back. We've got some running backs. We've got a great o-line, we've got a quarterback in Drew Brees, a legendary quarterback in my eyes. I just feel like we can be multi-dimensional, but at the same time, we've got to go out and execute. Whatever Sean calls, we've got to execute at a high level in order for us to make this run."
On the importance of being in sync with Drew Brees going into the postseason:
"Yeah, it felt good. Obviously, it's two plays I wish I could have back, the slant and then the back shoulder that he threw to me, but I had eight catches, well nine catches today. It felt good to catch passes and for Drew to believe in me and obviously keep feeding me, trying to get me the eight catches to get that incentive. It felt good to be out there."
On the rarity of being on a veteran team that openly talks about Super Bowl or bust:
"I've been on a team like that in '15, it was Super Bowl or bust. But truthfully, we don't even pay attention to it. We just take it one game at a time. Obviously, the end goal for everybody is to win the Super Bowl, but at the same time, we can't get there and just skip the whole process of it. So it's a process and it starts with Chicago next week."