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Transcript: Quarterback Drew Brees media availability - December 18, 2019

Saints quarterback Drew Brees speaks to the media prior to the week 16 matchup against Tennessee

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Post Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

You've been looking for peak efficiency out of this offense. I know you'll say there's plays left, but how close are you guys to being at that level that you want to be?
"Listen, that was a pretty efficient game on Monday night, right? I felt like we were hitting on all cylinders both in the run game in the pass game. Of course, there's still some meat left on the bone so to speak and listen, every game is a little different, right? You don't know what opportunities are going to be there. You want to execute, try to execute to perfection and then take advantage of those opportunities when they do arise. But at the end of the day, I think you want to look at your run game and say, 'Hey, we're getting a hat on a hat or when we're not we're putting our backs in favorable positions to get extra yardage.' In the pass game, we're efficient. We're taking what they give us, 'Hey, when we get big play opportunities, we're making the most of them and then obviously, we're staying on the field, sustaining drives and scoring points.'"

Have you ever had a game where you only have one incompletion?
"I think my first junior varsity game in high school, I was nine of 10 so there was one incompletion."

Are you surprised you didn't have a perfect passer rating just because of the metrics that go in behind it?
"It's funny, I actually did notice that, but, it's an inexact science, right? Listen, I'm not worried about what the passer rating was. I'm just glad we got the win and I felt like we improved as a team."

I know you said you didn't feel like it was your perfect game, but it felt pretty much that it was pretty close to it?
"Are you talking about for us offensively? For the first three quarters it was really good. It was really efficient. I would have liked to have probably managed the clock a little better at the end of the half and I will take full responsibility for that. Obviously, we thought we had a touchdown, it got called back and then all of a sudden we're left with seven seconds, but we had two timeouts. You never want to have timeouts in your pocket with no time left in that type of situation. You don't want to give the other team a bunch of time to go on a two minute drive of their own, but in hindsight and again, that is on me. I should have called a timeout maybe the play before, just in the event that something like that happens where you get a penalty or you get the PI and now it's okay, we're second and 12 or 13, whatever it was. But now you have enough time where you can run a play, call a timeout and then maybe you get two more shots at the end zone or one more shot at the end zone. So there's that. Then, first drive of the game ended up in a field goal. It would've been nice to sustain that somehow. Especially after the blocked punt and we had some momentum, but other than that, listen, it's hard to complain about a bunch, but you're going to try to find the things that you can improve upon."

Along the offensive line, it's not supposed to look as easy as this team seems to make it look when it comes to injuries and plugging guys in. How does this team make that transition so smooth year after year?
"It's a credit to get in the right type of guys and guys that have the ability to step in and play multiple positions, you know what I mean? We've been in that situation too where, listen, Andrus Peat throughout his career. Yeah, now he's our staple at left guard, but man, he's had to bounce out and play left tackle on a bunch of occasions, right? I think (Ryan) Ramcyzk started out playing left tackle because Terron (Armstead) was down his rookie year and then he bounced over to right guard when (Zach) Strief got hurt. You just keep having those guys. Nick Easton obviously has been a guy who's plugged in and done a great job. Will Clapp, (Patrick) Omameh, you name it, all these guys, it's kind of like, 'Hey, wherever I'm needed, jump in and do that.' So the versatility, the ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line, obviously that's a skill, right? That's a trait that if a guy has that becomes very valuable because you just never know how it's going to shake out throughout the course of a game. But man, those guys have been able to plug in and play and do a great job."

You and Sean (Payton) see the offense in a similar way now after spending so much time together. But over the last decade, has there been something that's consistently come up that you maybe disagreed about pretty often that required a little more back and forth?
"It's funny. Of course we have those conversations where he's like, I see it playing out like this and maybe I say, 'Well, I think the guy plays it more like this, or I think we're more out to get this coverage or this look or this leverage.' And he's like, trust me, I'm going to call (this). But you know what that does is it, it allows us then to maybe work on a concept to where it fulfills the vision that we both have. Whereas he may think, man, the balls going to this guy, I guarantee it and I say, 'Well, if they don't give us that look, then I'd rather have this route as a complement that I can get to in the event that we don't get that look.' That's how you tweak, right? That's how you get the play exactly the way we both will feel comfortable about it and know that we're going to get something positive out of this."

How would you say the way you guys communicate has changed over that time?
"We've always had great communication throughout the week. We're constantly talking through concepts. What are you seeing, what am I seeing? He may install a play that I say, 'Hey coach, explain the vision to me.' And he'll explain it and I'll say, okay, I got it. So that happens all the time. That hasn't happened ever since I got here. We talk so much about situations and he said, 'Hey, when this situation arises, this is what I am thinking.' So when that situation comes around in a game, I can anticipate what's coming. And that makes me a better player, right? To be able to anticipate what the play caller is calling and why he's calling it. I think especially now, 14 years later, I know the stuff he likes and why he likes it and he'd say the same thing about me. It's just that, that ability to kind of read each other's minds at times that makes us effective."

You mentioned offensive line. The Pro Bowl selections came out last night. Are you surprised (Ryan) Ramczyk wasn't in there? There always seems like there's some guys who are quote unquote snubbed.
"Listen, I'd make an argument for every one of our guys, but certainly Ryan Ramczyk has I think over the last three years established himself as one of the best, if not the best, right tackle in the league. I think usually what you find is, especially as a young player, it takes a few years to kind of get that respect or become that name that everyone then recognizes, oh, he's one of the elite guys. I think I've heard Sean (Payton) even say that there's times where young players won't make the Pro Bowl when they deserve to, and then maybe as you get older, you make it when maybe you didn't deserve to, right? (laughter) Because now everybody knows your name and they just expect, Oh, that guy should be in there, right? He's been such a good player for a long time, right? Bottom line is, Ramczyk certainly deserves that honor and he's a Pro Bowler to all of us and I'd say the same for certainly Larry (Warford), Andrus (Peat) and all those guys got a certain amount of respect in one way or another, right? Even as an alternate, that's basically saying that there's enough people out there that think that highly of you. Those guys are all deserving."

Four touchdowns to four different receivers. How do you develop trust in receivers as opposed to a lot of times you'll get in situations where you'll see over the course of the season or career, you kind of force it to a guy as opposed to just throwing it to whoever the open guy is?
"Listen, every play has its progression. Every play has it's rhyme or reason depending on coverage, depending on matchup as to where you're going and why. I think when we can walk away from games and look at the stat sheet and be like, man, 10 different guys caught passes or four different guys caught touchdowns, imagine the problem that presents for a defense, right? Where it is like, well man, we cannot just key on one guy or two guys even. They have these other guys that when the matchup's there, they're going to try to exploit it. I think that keeps all our guys really in tune as well, knowing that on any play, regardless of maybe the way it played out in practice or the way that it even plays out when you're installing the play, this play could go to me, right? This opportunity could be mine. That gets everybody very in tune and very focused from play to play knowing that it could be their opportunity."

Is it interesting to put on the Titans film and see Kenny Vaccaro making plays?
"Listen, he's doing great. He was a great player for us. He brought a physical brand of play and a mentality. I appreciate those five years with Kenny and (am) happy for the success (he's had)."

You guys used him so many different ways each year here as a Saint. How does he cause problems?
"He's a very versatile player. You go back to his college days and he was basically playing like this nickel strong safety hybrid. He's obviously a very physical player in the run, but he's got good cover skills as well so he can cover tight ends, backs, great pressure player, you see him play in the middle of the field, he has got good instincts. He's just a good football player all the way around."

Having time to let that performance from Monday soak in, did it even surprise you, the efficiency of it?
"Typically throughout the course of a game you're going to have three or four throwaways, right? You're going to have maybe a spike or two. You're going to have a couple of plays where, man, they just make a great play, or man, you just missed the guy, right? That results in seven, eight, nine incompletions a game, right? Just based on that and that's if everything else goes really, really well. So the fact that there was only one, man credit it to great protection, great o-line play, guys making great catches, there were some great catches made the other night and just being in rhythm, right? I say this all the time and I truly believe it. I just don't see why the ball should touch the ground that often. Whether it's in practice or just goofing around, throwing my kids a ball when they're bouncing on the trampoline or wherever, during the game. I think that's just part of the way that we practice and it's our mentality and I try to visualize that, but also understanding that you're never going to be perfect, right? You just try to put yourself and everyone around you in the best position to succeed, right? And so that's making great decisions, getting the ball out on time, put it to where our guys can catch it and the other guys can't. And I think good things happen when you do that."

Was there any time during the thumb surgery recovery where you thought you were two months away from one of the best performances?
"Yeah, listen, I'd be lying to you back with when the film injury happened because I mean think about it, talk about a guy's throwing hand and your thumb is pretty darn important, right? And if I can't grip it or if I can't, get the same range of motion or the same strength, then that's a problem. Yeah, I was worried, you know, not that I wouldn't ever get it back, but it's like, man, how long is this going to take? And is there going to be that anxiety when I get back and are there going to be those weeks where you have it on one throw, but then do not have it on another, because of the lack of consistency. I am just very thankful. I'm very grateful that it has played out the way that it did. It was a great surgery. It was a great rehab. I had a great team that helped me get back. And I've been able to feel really comfortable, throwing the ball and doing what I need to do."

When you first get back, was there any throw or range throws that you didn't have to quite have it?
"Yeah and when they tell you the timeline's like eight weeks, right. Of course at four weeks when I am telling myself I should be ready and I'm not, that's frustrating, right? But then I have to have people give me the reality check that, hey this was supposed to be eight weeks and you're only at four, so slow your roll. You'll be all right. So at four weeks, no, it was not consistent and then at five weeks it was really kind of like a light bulb came on just like flip the switch and all of a sudden it's like one day you wake up and it's there. When it wasn't the day before. That's really kind of the way it was and that's when I knew, like all right, here we go."

Did that drive you crazy?
"Yeah, I wanted consistency. I wanted consistency with that ball out of my hand and I just wanted to not think about it right. Prior to that, when you start throwing it, you're thinking about it every throw. But it is a progression just like with any injury, right? You have to develop a level of confidence to where you're not thinking about it anymore."

Is this offense peaking at the right time?
"There's more to be desired with some of the things that we're doing. There's definitely room for improvement. You come off a game like that and you say, all right, well yeah, I mean it was pretty good all the way around, but each opponent requires a different game plan, a different kind of mindset and a different set of keys to victory so to speak and so it presents its own set of challenges. And so from week to week we've got to execute the plan and overcome those challenges."

Is it harder playing teams in other conferences since you don't play often?
"It would be just as hard if you're playing a divisional opponent or if you're playing somebody that you're just not as familiar with. I mean, bottom line is you got to come up with a great game plan and you've got to go out and execute that game plan. And it's on the road and they have a lot to play for just like we do. So it'll be a tough game."

As a quarterback is it great to see the success Ryan Tannehill is having in Tennessee after getting his start in Miami?
"Yeah, absolutely. I don't know Ryan that well, but I feel like I've seen him on film a bunch just from over the years playing against Miami and then similar opponents and such like that. But I thought he did a great job there and obviously he's made the most of the opportunities there. He's playing really well."

Can you relate to a change of scenery benefitting a player?
"Absolutely. Yeah, it's a fresh start, right? It's a fresh start. It's kind of like reestablishing the foundation, but you're also drawing on your experiences as a starting quarterback. I mean, how many games did Ryan Tannehill start prior to arriving in Tennessee, a lot? He's an experienced veteran quarterback, but yeah, new environment, new system and yet you're bringing some experience and wisdom along with it and that's a big deal."

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