QUARTERBACK DREW BREES
On how it felt to return to action:
"I came out of the gate okay; it was great to be back out there with team just competing again. Obviously, it was tough over the last four weeks, so it was great to be back out there."
On how difficult it is to find a rhythm after being out for a period:
"Well I can tell you the first four drives were not what we want, obviously, with four three-and-outs. We didn't really find a rhythm until the second quarter and the fourth quarter I would say if you kind of broke this down, second quarter, fourth quarter. Unfortunately, there were quite a few moments where we weren't able to get that first first-down. In so many cases you get that and then you are able to get a drive together, convert some third downs and find some tempo and rhythm. Unfortunately, I'll say it wasn't really efficient in the passing game. I think it was a combination of forcing some things downfield instead of just taking a completion underneath. There were some miscues. They hit us with some looks defensively where you just had to throw the ball away to avoid a negative play or a sack. So, a combination of all those things, they did a great job, but I know we could have been more efficient. We could've found more completions."
On attributing the slow start to rust or personnel or a combination:
"Listen, you have to find ways, and I feel like we've done a good job of that all season long. The next man up mentality with a lot of guys being banged up or unavailable for whatever reason and other guys have stepped up and done a great job. I will say we came in without Mike (Thomas) and then we lost Tre'Quan (Smith) kind of midway through so that was tough but I feel like the young guys stepped up and did a nice job."
On the process of returning to play and benchmarks for that:
"I think being able to throw the ball good enough and that was kind of a ramp up from last week into early this week and throughout practice. I still have a little way to go, I'll be honest. There are some things I am still kind of working on, but it is what it is."
On a sense of urgency to get back for this game knowing what is at stake:
"Here's the thing, at this point every game is so important. Down the stretch everybody is battling something, everybody is fighting to get out on the field and put together our best effort in order to help our team win to advance our playoff status. Right now, the most important thing is getting our next win so we can officially win the division and then we will worry about the next one after that. So, we have a one game season and that is this Friday night."
On the intentional grounding call and if he thought Jared Cook was going to run a different route:
"I thought he was running by the safety. They brought an all-out pressure so the guy who had blitzed off covering him, the corner, we didn't have a guy to block him, so he was the free guy. It's one of those things we had talked about various things during the week and just got signals crossed."
On his response to the narrative that he was not ready or just too rusty:
"Listen, my first pass of the game I should have thrown a check down and if I threw a check down, we'd get the first first-down and get a drive going but I tried to sort of fit one into Taysom (Hill). And then the next play they brought another sort of all-out pressure look and I had to get the ball out sooner than I wanted to. That could've been a completion as well, just kind of off by a hair whether it's split-second timing or split-second decision and just communication with the guys we are throwing to or me just throwing a check down instead of trying to force it down field. And that's every game, every game there is stuff like that. We are a very efficient offense; we are a high efficiency passing game and we are going to get back to that."
RUNNING BACK ALVIN KAMARA
How was it getting Drew (Brees) back out there? And is it just going to be a little process for you guys to knock off the rust and get everything going?
"It felt good. Obviously just having Drew (Brees) back out there, it means a lot to this team. His energy, his leadership, obviously his play. So it was good to have him out there."
What did you see, if anything, that was giving you guys problems on third down today?
"We've got to execute. That's it."
How do you think they played you specifically? Did they pay attention to you more in the passing game? With this defense, any different than maybe some other games you've played this year?
"A little bit. Obviously, they didn't want the pass to be a threat. And they did alright."
Would you say this one felt like a playoff game? Did it feel bigger than a normal regular season game?
DEFENSIVE TACKLE SHELDON RANKINS
Look, I know you guys knew coming in Patrick Mahomes can extend a lot of these plays. But I mean, how many times did you feel like today you played him really well and had him kind of backed into a corner and then he kind of came up with some magic, if you will?
"Yeah. Yeah, I mean, listen, like you said, we knew that coming into the game, we knew, he's kind of the straw that stirs the drink. You know, he kind of gets them out of some bad situations. And make some plays for them. So yeah, I mean, there's a few we want back, obviously. But, I really won't be able to tell too much until we get into the tape. But you know, off the top of my head, definitely a few we want back, definitely a few that, you know, we feel that, you know, if we just do this here and this there, or this guy gets off and does that. You know, we'd have them where we wanted and be able to make a play. But, yeah."
It's probably been since your rookie season, since you lost like consecutive games late in the year like this, with the playoffs coming on? I am just curious, where the team's mindset is right now? If you think it's still in a good spot, even if, you know, this is kind of new territory for you?
"Yeah, listen, I think, the thing about this team is, we're resilient. You know, we've seen it all, been through it all. So, teams in a good spot, you know, obviously, never want to lose a game, never want to lose consecutive games. But like I said, the good thing about this team, you know, got a lot of guys who played a lot of football, been through a lot of things and seen a lot. So I think it starts, like I said, starts at the top. Sean (Payton), you know, going down into the locker room with Drew (Brees), Cam (Jordan), Demario (Davis), those guys. Those guys have played a lot of football and are going to lead the right way. We are going to rally that message to the rest of the team and we are good. And I think we got a short week ahead of us, get ready to play on Christmas. We'll get back to work, find film on some things and get ready to come back out here for a better showing."
Speaking of Cam (Jordan), how does it change things when you lose a leader like that in the fourth quarter? And he can't even be on the sidelines with you all, because he's got to go back to the locker room?
"Yeah, that's big. We could sit up here and talk about the next man up, which is true. Listen, the guys stepped in great, Carl (Granderson), Trey (Hendrickson) and Marcus (Davenport), those guys are hellacious players in their own right. But, it's hard to replace a guy like Cam Jordan. So obviously his absence was there. But at the end of the day, the way this league works is, you have to make plays, regardless of who's out there. So, obviously, we always miss him, we know he can go change a game on any play. But, we also got other guys who are more than capable of filling that spot and they went out there and played well and did their job and were able to harass Patrick Mahomes."
Obviously, you guys would like to get the win here. But if you look at it kind of like as a process, being on the field, 40 minutes against this team, holding them to 230 (yards) passing and just kind of how you guys played. Are there positives you can take from this as a group that can, you know, help you guys learn about yourselves?
"Anytime, you lose, things are going to seem a lot more down then what they may be when we watch the tape. So, once I watch the tape, I'll definitely be able to kind of see, see a lot of those things, if we can pull some positive things from it. But all in all, to be able to play this team close and be able to have a shot to win at the end of the game was big. And obviously we didn't come up with it. But we like our team, we love the guys we got in this locker room, the guys who go out there and play, our coaches, everybody that contributes to the product on Sunday. We love everybody and we'll go to war with these guys every time."
I'm just curious what it means to your to see Drew (Brees) back out there, even if today was what it was? Just to have him back out on the field, how important is that for you going into the stretch run?
"Yeah, that's big. Obviously, (a) walking Hall of Famer, you can't (discount) having that back out on the field. (The) guy's played as much football as he has and been as successful as he has, been to the mountaintop. He does nothing but add another piece to the team, getting back out there and being able to command that huddle and get our offense flowing in the right direction. Like you said, (it) didn't come to where we wanted it to. And obviously it would've been great to have him back out there, first game, win. But, this is something that we'll grow from. It's not a loss, it's a lesson. We will continue to grow from it. And when it's all said and done, our coaches will put us in the right positions to make plays, in the right situations to win the biggest games."
When you mentioned you like your team, obviously, has it been frustrating at all for everyone on this team that when you look at the whole year, it seems like, I don't even know if we've been able to see them 100%, or see you guys 100% at any point. It seems like every time that somebody's been on demand it's like somebody else's going out. I mean, has that been a frustrating thing from like a rhythm standpoint?
"I mean, it's football, that's just kind of what comes with the business. There's going to be some years where you feel like everybody's great, you never really have too many key guys or too many important guys, that go out. Then there are going to be years where it seems like a revolving door of, we get a guy back, we lose a guy, we get a guy back, we lose a guy. So, it's just kind of the way the business works. Listen, at the end of the day, the team lining up across from you doesn't care who's out there. They're going to go out there and try to win a football game. And we feel the same way. Whoever's out there we're going to war with those guys. And we have the most trust in those guys to go out there and execute and help us win."
I know a lot of times you guys hate these short weeks, but in this case, are you guys a little more anxious to get back on the field, maybe get a win and get some momentum back?
"Definitely. I think, obviously, the shorter week, from a recovery standpoint, you've got to harp on that a little bit more. But all in all, listen, I know this team, I know my guys and we're definitely going to be excited to get back out there and get this ball back rolling in the right direction. Two losses back to back, definitely leaves a bad taste in our mouths. But all in all, we're a resilient team. We've faced adversity before and we'll battle back out of this and get back to playing the style of football we're known to play."
Game action photos from the New Orleans Saints vs. Kansas City Chiefs matchup in Week 15 of the 2020 NFL season.