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Transcript: Quarterback Drew Brees media availability - November 20, 2019

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Post Practice Media Availability
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

You said that you think your best football is ahead of you? Why would you feel that way?
“I just think we can execute. We can continue to execute better offensively. I know defense just from talking to the guys, they have things they’re working on. Even coming off a game like that where you win convincingly and you do some good things on both sides of the ball, I think there's still a lot more to be desired.”

Do you feel like a game like that, even though you won the game, you still were not satisfied?
“I just know we can do things better and so as I focus from week to week, it really is all about our execution. It doesn't matter the opponent. Certainly, you watch film, you game plan, you want to understand the opponent, you want to be able to anticipate certain things, but at the end of the day, it's all about your execution. Right? I think when we are executing at a high level in both the run game and the pass game; I think we are really hard to defend. We can do so many things. We've got a lot of versatile players. I think we gameplan very well. We are coached very well, but, when you come out of a game and you look at drives that man, well why did that drive end, well we had a penalty that was an unforced error or we had a missed assignment that would have resulted in a big play, but instead it was a loss or a no gain. So it's those things that you look at and say, man, the opportunities are so few and far between in the game that when you get them, you’ve got to make them if you want to be the type of team that I know that we can be. So no, I'm not satisfied right now. I think we can be a lot better.”

The first quarter has been a little bit of a problem lately. It was not on Sunday. Was there extra emphasis placed on that?
“Yes, but the first two series were still field goals when we got down inside their 20. That's an area where I would say that still needs to be improved. Even though you walk away with 20 points in the first half, which I think we would take that, it could've been 28. I know there's more that we can do there to make sure that we're getting seven points instead of three.”

Carolina has 39 sacks this year, I think it’s tied for first in the league. What do you see from the pass rush?
“It is impressive, man. They get after you. They have got a lot of good pass rushers. This has always been a very aggressive defense. A pressure style defense. They have obviously one of the smartest, best players in the game Luke Kuechly and you see how active he is in his communication and leadership on that side of the ball. They're doing a good job of getting pressure on opposing teams and taking the ball away. Again, for us it becomes about our execution, our attention to detail in regards to the protection and then also when we do have opportunities to make plays, we've got to make them.”

Have they kind of changed up their defensive front with the addition of Gerald McCoy at defensive tackle?
“Yes, and it's a change in scheme too. It has kind of gone to this 3-4 defensive front. Even though you can make the front look like a four down front, it's just different body types in different places. Again, they're executing it well. They're well-coached.”

I think you've said a lot, the more desperate team wins. Carolina seems fit for a team that'll come in with that mentality?
“You could say it's very similar to the position we were in coming off last week, where you lose one at home and you didn't play your best football obviously and there is a lot at stake. Listen, these are divisional games. We're fighting to win the division. They are fighting to be in contention as well. This is one of those games.”

If you wanted to get home field advantage for the playoffs, you might have to win the last six. Have you thought about that at all?
“Nope. I have not. (You) Can't win six until you win one. I want to win one six times. There we go.”

Carolina is allowing the fewest receiving yards by running backs in the league this year. You guys obviously use Alvin (Kamara) so much in the passing game. Can you speak to how you guys get him open or how it works?
“I didn’t know that. That's a good stat. Listen, it's all about matchups and you see how they're going to defend you and then you react accordingly. We’re going to throw it to the open guy. That's my job.”

How's the thumb?
“It’s good. Really good.”

I know you've seen a lot of change and it's just part of the game, especially when you play as long as you have, but is it odd facing a Carolina team without Cam Newton playing knowing he won't play the rest of the season in some capacity?
“I haven't really thought about it. Again, if you said Luke Kuechly, I'd say yes because that's the guy I'm staring at every time I walk up to the ball. I'm not staring at Cam every time I walk up to the ball. Being that he's on the other side and it's not like this direct kind of competition. I guess that is a bit unusual being that he's been the starter there since 2011. Obviously, played a lot of football for them.”

Do you had any advice for a guy like that? The last several years it just seems like injuries have kind of derailed their seasons. Just being a guy went through injuries yourself, would you have any words of wisdom?
“Unfortunately, that is part of this game and then you are fighting through it. The last thing I expected this season was to miss five games due to this thumb. You always hope and pray that you are able to stay healthy, but obviously Cam plays a tough physical style of football. That guy takes a lot of hits. He takes a lot of punishment. Obviously, I hope that he's able to get healthy and get back to where he's feeling good and playing again.”

You own quite a few records in this game. How cool would it be to see Mike (Thomas) break Marvin Harrison's record for receptions in a season?
“it would be great. It would be awesome. It would be incredible. That would be quite an accomplishment. I don't know what the number is, do you?”

143. He’s on pace for…
“I don't want to know what he has. I don't want to know what he's on pace for. I just want to play ball and if he's open I'm going to throw it to him.”

Do you want to throw it to him more?
“Is that possible? (laughing). All good. I hope he does.”

Just to clarify, because you mentioned you throw to the open guy and as long as he’s open I’m going to throw to him, you only throw to Mike when he’s open?
“I do not really think we force it to anybody. Common sense would say you try to put the ball on your playmakers hands. Good things usually happen when Mike has it in his hands as do some other guys. On any given play, really anybody can get the ball. You have maybe your feature guys or your number one in the progression or your one or two in the progression, but at the end of the day, anything can happen.”

Doesn't the definition of open change based on a receiver's skillset?
“Sure. You can throw them open or if there is nobody on the field that is as big as Jared Cook who is covering him. So technically there is always a place you can throw it where he can get it and somebody else can't for the most part as was evident with his touchdown catch on Sunday, right? The defender could not have played that any better, right? But, he's big so that's a good trait to have. That’s a good asset to have on the offense. But yes, bottom line is I think there are so many nuances to our offense and I think guys also understand that what typically may be covered is not really covered in this offense. If you know the nuances and the ways to uncover, you know where that ball can be thrown to where you can make the play and the defender can’t.”

Can you talk about the job Nick Easton did coming in? Last year you dealt with some injury issues on the offensive line at the end of the season, it's just one game, but he seemed to be pretty solid stepping in there.
“He did a great job and I know he's excited to get back into the action. It’s been a while since he had a start, but he did a great job. It's that group, right? You always talk about those guys as a unit. The group that has to work together, really communicate. I don't think people realize just how much is happening up front with what defenses try to do, especially in the pass rush with games when we say stunts. It's not like here's the guy lined up over you and you just have to block him, right? All of a sudden he picks the tackle and then the tackle’s guy loops inside and you're having to work with the tackle and make sure that he's not getting picked and you're picking up his guy or here comes the center or the center is not helping you. There's just so many little elements to play in that position. You’ve got to be able to think fast and you’ve got to be able to think on your feet and you’ve got be able to work together. I think him being a veteran guy, him being a guy who's been a starter in this league, he has that type of experience and that ability to work with those guys.”

The offense hasn’t had a ton of explosive plays lately. Is that because of the way teams are defending you or is it you've had them called up and they just didn't materialize for whatever reason or do you feel like it's coming?
“We call them. As I think back to this last game, there was maybe one or two that we could have taken a shot at and didn't. We came to another option for whatever reason. Sometimes it's just timing or it's not worth taking the chance and so I just think for one reason or another maybe those haven't come, but certainly we call them and certainly we're ready to throw them if they're there.”

So you're not losing any aggressiveness as a quarterback?
“No.”

There's like some aggressiveness stat that I've found and your number is less than it’s been than the last few years. But I also thought maybe that might be a byproduct of you feeling good about what's around you. Maybe not need to take as many chances.
“Listen, for me it's about being a great decision maker. If it's worth taking the shot, if the guy's open or if there's a place where we can put it and it's the right situation, then yes we're turning it loose. But otherwise, keep the chains moving. (Make) Positive plays and score points.”

When you're throwing Mike (Thomas) open, is it usually because you saw the same things before the snap and you're on the same page? Or to what extent maybe is it his ability to react to what you've decided to do in the moment because he knows what your options are?
“Listen, so much of that is me to you. It's the me to you, it's the experience. It's the timing and rhythm that has been created over years of our practice together and being able to rep the same things over and over and being able to rep it against a ton of different looks. Just about every look that you could possibly get versus a certain route or whatever it might be like or against a certain route. His development as a receiver, I remember when he came in and was just kind of a raw, such a raw receiver. He had this physical toughness to him and ability to get off the press in certain things. But just as far as like a really smooth, fluid route runner there was a lot of work that needed to be done and man, he has become that. His route tree was pretty limited to, I think when he first got here and now it's completely open. He can run every route in the book, right? Again, that is just experience on his level, time on task between the two of us. I think we know now that no matter what the look, his reaction’s going to be my reaction and vice versa. We're just very much on the same page.”

Do you think there's only a select number of receivers that play with multiple quarterbacks in a season and still have a numbers that he's producing?
“Listen, he's a special guy. Tell Mike the route, he'll assess the coverage, he'll know how he needs to run it based upon who he is running against as well because he studies the guys, right? He knows who's defending him, right? He's going to run the route maybe differently versus some guys than others. That's part of being a great receiver is understanding that element. He is going to get open. He is going to look you dead in the eye and say, ‘I am going to get open.’ And you believe him, you trust him. You anticipate it and you throw it and most of the time he is right. That makes for a great receiver. You look at all the numbers and you look at everything else and it shows. He's on pace to do some pretty remarkable things.”

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