Drew Brees met with the media on Wednesday, addressing everything from crocodiles to the red zone.
What did you think of Sean Payton’s reaction to you being on Bear Grylls’ show? It took him by surprised it sounded like.
“What did he say?”
He said he thought it was going to be Sea World and it wasn’t that much.
“Yeah, well first of all going on the show was a thrill. It was awesome. I really had no idea what to expect. If you watched the previous Bear Grylls show whether it is Man vs. Wild or the Running Wild with Bear Grylls from season one, they do a lot of cool stuff. They do some daring stuff, some scary stuff. I knew I would be getting outside my comfort zone a little bit with maybe some of the heights and the snakes and different things. Did I expect to be killing a crocodile on that trip? No and then eating it for dinner, but when you are in the moment you kind of just go primal. Being with him too, I think he gives you a sense of security like okay, if we get in some trouble here this guy knows what he is doing, I am not just out here on my own. When he said you are going to jump on the back of that croc and stab it, I was like, okay, well I better get my mind right.”
Sean Payton said if you really wanted to kill a crocodile you didn’t have to leave Louisiana.
“I know, I know, it’s funny because he was like, have you ever been in the swamp before? And I was like well does the Louisiana bayou count because I have been down there a bunch of times. After the moment I am sitting there carrying a crocodile on my shoulders, I ended up carrying it like a mile up hills and everywhere to find our campsite. I am just thinking the whole time, I am like people down in Louisiana, I think this is going to make them proud. Man this is just what we do down here.”
The Saints are the only team in the NFL with four guys going into their 10th year in the league together. Can you tell me how special that is and the bond? Do you feel like you have some unfinished business before then?
“Absolutely and listen, I think we are all very grateful (and) very humble to have had the opportunity to be together for that long. It’s extremely rare. We hope that we have years left and yet you never know. I think it just makes you really value each and every opportunity. This year I feel like our work, our preparation, our mindset has put us in a position now to start this season where we feel like we have what it takes. We understand that it is one week at a time and there is so much work to be done and yet if we can accomplish that ultimate goal together, wouldn’t that be something especially the guys that have been here for so long and have seen this program build and develop.”
Sean Payton also said that you guys had a little party to commemorate your 10 years together.
“Yes, it was awesome. There are basically 10 players and coaches that have been here for all 10 years, not counting Sean (Payton) or Mickey (Loomis) and so we kind of gathered everyone together and nobody really knew what the occasion was. It was almost like a scavenger hunt a little bit. He would leave a note in your locker saying to be here at this time and it would have the number 10 on it and everyone was like, what does that mean? You show up at the party and there is something else kind of sitting there at the party, I mean the dinner, we were just in a private room at the hotel. It had a card in front of you and everyone is sitting down and we are looking around just wondering. Eventually you put it together and we spent probably four hours at dinner just telling stories about that 2006 team and the journey to get to where we are now. Sean (Payton) went around the room and talked about how each person was acquired both player and coach which is really cool because a lot of stories came out that I had never heard before and I felt like I was pretty abreast with kind of the scenarios by which we all got here and yet there were some really funny stories. Then you receive the perspective of not only Sean but then the coach or the player and it just turned into an awesome night just reminiscing on the journey to get here. It makes you want it to last forever.”
What has your mindset been going into this season? How do you feel?
“(To) Really focus and concentrate on all the things that make us a really good team, (and) a really good offense. Yes, you take all the things that we have been building upon and talking about and executing throughout the offseason, preseason. It is not rocket science. There’s a strategy, there’s a mindset, there’s kind of a process by which you get to gameday and you are ready to go out and play your absolute best and you believe that what we call it is going to work and we are going to make it work and we dictate the tempo of this game, we control this game. It is just a mindset that has just developed there throughout the week.”
Do you feel like there is a level of maybe unpredictability you are going into with this season as far as what defenses can expect out of you guys, some additions and some subtractions?
“Yeah I mean the first game is always interesting because nobody really shows anything in the preseason and so even in the regular season you are like okay, what is this defense doing? What is kind of their bread and butter? What is our bread and butter? I think at times it takes you a couple of games to see where certain guys start to fit in, certain schemes start to fit into what you are doing. You begin to see this man get really good at some things and maybe we need to fine tune and work on some other things. That is part of the fun is seeing it and watching it all come together.”
How are you with not playing as much this preseason? Do you feel like you got that chemistry you needed through OTA’s, minicamp and training camp?
“Yes I do. I have a great comfort level with all of the guys that are out there with me. I feel like I got the work done that I needed to get done. Now into a week of game prep which is much different than training camp. In training you’re rolling with three groups and you are really kind of limited in the amount of reps you get. Now you are taking all of the reps. I feel like I get so many more reps now throughout the course of the week than I do during a training camp or a preseason (game) which, I think, helps prepare us more for the game.”
After an entire offseason and months and months of preparation, how much anticipation goes into this week, the season opener?
“There is, very much so. We understand the importance of a fast start, not just to a game but to our season. We talk about that and we emphasize that. At the end of the day, you don’t try to put any added pressure, stress or anything like that on yourself. I think that you just focus on the pressure and at the end, the result will take care of itself.”
You are familiar with their secondary; what is you assessment of those guys and how much of a challenge is it to go against them?
“Man, those guys are playmakers. They’re definitely a great strength of their defense. Patrick Peterson is one of the best defensive backs in this league. He has been for a while now. The Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu, he is all over the place. He makes plays all over the field. He is very versatile. He can play middle-field safety, he can come down and cover the slot, he can cover a tight end (and) they will pressure him. They do a lot of things with him because he is such an instinctive football player. He is just around the ball. They have other guys in that secondary that they mix-and-match quite a bit. They all can cover ground and they all are very aware. They have some really good guys at corner.”
The red zone issues, there weren’t many of them in the preseason. There were a few of them; does that concern you at all going forward?
“No, as you get into the season, you begin to develop what your bread and butter is. (You begin to find) the stuff that you are going to do to be successful (with) and where you matchups are. We had limited opportunities in the preseason. We had four drives as a first team offense and we made down into the red zone four times, scoring two touchdowns and (kicking) two field goals. The two that we did not score on, we (were not) very far away. Regardless if we were sitting here talking about fifty percent efficiency or had we converted those, one hundred percent efficiency, bottom line is that it’s the preseason and you have to be able to go out in the regular season and execute that. You’re going to have more opportunities. You are going to have different looks. You’re going to have a lot more in your bag of tricks to be able to throw at the defense as well. I know that each week we’ll have a different plan, depending on who that team is and how that defense is going to defend us. We’ll have a well-thought-out plan.”
Do you take the limited amount of work you got, I think it was four-or-five series, as symbolic to how dialed in you have been this preseason?
“I would say this, every team handles it differently, as far as how long the starters are playing. There are different circumstances and scenarios surrounding that. Sean’s (Payton) Philosophy was that he wanted the first offense to go in and control the game, play with great tempo, look sharp, move the football, convert third downs and score points. Once he had seen enough or felt like they got their work done, then he was getting them out. There are a lot of these young players that are not getting time and he would want to evaluate them. (He is trying to find) who is going to be the fourth or fifth receivers or who is going to be the third and fourth running back. (There is) a lot of evaluation to take place so once Sean saw what he needed to see, we were out. Going into those games, I was ready to potentially play a first quarter, first half or whatever it might be. When we’re done, we’re done.”
Did you see what you needed to see? I think there’s a lot of pessimism surrounding the final results of a lot of games but the first string offense played really well. Do you feel really good about that group?
“Yea. I got drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2001. I think they were 4-0 in the 2000 preseason and finished 1-15. Preseason doesn’t really indicate a lot. I think that you could look at the Colts’ preseason record during Peyton Manning’s tenure there. I think that they won 10 percent of their preseason games and then always won 12 games a year. Bottom line is that each team has a plan for what they want to get accomplished during the preseason. I know that Sean (Payton) has said and I’ll say it, we got accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished in the preseason, with regards to some guys receiving work. You are experimenting with things. You do not game plan those games. You just kind of go in and you’re not showing a whole lot. You keep it pretty basic and at the end of the day, you are pulling your starters out pretty early, in order to keep guys healthy. If starters stay in longer and guys got hurt, then you guys would be on us wondering why the heck they were in the game. There is a balance there and I felt like we had a good balance.”
How do you feel, health-wise, compared to last year?
“I feel a lot better. Last year, obviously, I had the oblique strain during training camp. I missed those two weeks and then it was kind of like scrambling to get back to be ready for week one. I feel good. I am doing a lot of things to take care of my body and overall maintenance to make sure that I am strong, healthy and ready to roll.”