Metairie, La. - Drew Brees grew up in Austin, Texas as a Cowboys fan but this week, he is preparing to beat Dallas for the third time in five years.
The following are the quarterback's comments to the media Wednesday, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
You guys have played Dallas plenty of times in the last eight years, how much familiarity do you take from those matchups?
"There is some carryover in personnel, but the team (now) is completely different. In fact, we inherited their defensive coordinator (Rob Ryan). But, here (now) is Monte Kiffin (as their defensive coordinator now) who we played against many, many times in Tampa Bay. There is some resemblance, but there are a lot of differences as well. Here is the thing, every game is a new game plan for the opponent. I'm sure there are things we are going to see that are a bit different than what they have shown on film even or maybe as their tendency. That is just how the whole game planning part of this goes."
It is kind of a run for Rob Ryan, playing his brother one week and the team that fired him the next.
"I'm glad we got him. That's all I'm saying. I'm glad he is on our team."
Would you like to win this one for him (Rob Ryan)?
"I think we'd like to get this one for all of us."
You know how he feels about them. He basically has verbalized it that he is upset about the way things went down there.
"Ok. I would imagine he probably wouldn't trade it. I know how much we appreciate him being here and certainly he has done a great job with our team. He's a big part of our team and a big part of our success. I think just like anything, any time you are playing an old team, especially maybe if there are some circumstances surrounding the departure. I know how I felt the first time I went back and played the Chargers for example. Despite how much it was meant to be that I was coming here and all those things, just like meant to be that Rob Ryan is here. There is still maybe a little bit of that if he said that and I completely understand that."
What are your feelings with everything going down in Miami?
"I would say the racist comments are the ones where you are just like (thinking), that is completely unnecessary. Listen, nobody truly knows the circumstances surrounding what prompted that or anything else other than the guys in that locker room. We really, nobody here (or) in the public can comment on that because you will never know. We probably will never know because whatever is found to be investigated or whatever, it is probably not all going to be true anyway. You only know if you are in the locker room. Having been this is my 13th year, in a bunch of locker rooms where you have guys that go at it all the time and I would say 99 percent of the time it is in a very joking, just kind of having fun kind of manner. Now there is definitely those times where as a leader you are jumping on a guy to get him going or whatever the case might be. And I don't, like I said, nobody knows really what is going on there or what the circumstances surrounding that. We all heard things, but we truly don't know. So it is hard to speculate. I just know having been in a locker room and having all kinds of different guys, coming from all kinds of different backgrounds, will all kinds of different personalities, there is stuff that happens all the time. It is just the locker room."
It's like what you see in a law firm?
"It's kind of anything goes, but here is the thing, there is also a brotherhood(among players in the NFL) too. There is stuff that happens on the field and we always say, hey leave everything on the field. There are disagreements, fights, stuff that is said off the field that you just don't take on the field. You shouldn't. You will see guys fighting on the field and 30 minutes later they are in the cafeteria having lunch together. There is stuff, especially when you are in a competitive atmosphere. Things will happen and if you just take it out of context it's hard to understand or grasp. Unless you are in that situation you really don't know what happened."
Is it a player leadership role to pay attention?
"Yeah absolutely. For example, and I like I said I can't speak for what happened there, we don't know, but if something is going on and you are like hey, somebody is taking it too far with another player. Guys will then step up and say hey, listen back off dude, give him a break, cut him some slack, whatever. But there are plenty of times where this guy is dragging and everyone in the position group is like hey we have to get this guy going so let's get on him. I imagine that that stuff happens in the military all the time. I'm not saying you would call a code red, but you do what you have to do to help motivate, inspire, get the best out of your players. Coaches doing it to players, players doing it to players, coaches doing it to coaches, I mean all those things, that happens, it is a part of this business. It is very competitive."
Can a grown man be bullied?
"I mean I don't know if bully is the right term because typically I think you would say that about somebody who can't protect or defense themselves. Listen, there are all kinds of verbal abuse that takes place inside a locker room, but like I said, 99 percent of it is in jest. But, maybe there is a little bit of truth to everything said in jest. I think that is why a lot of cases the best motivational tactics from coaches and players come from messing with a guy and you might say something about their performance or their work ethic or something like that. Everybody laughs and a lot of ha ha's it's a funny joke, but deep down you are like, did they just take a shot at me, obviously that is the way I am perceived so maybe I have to pick it up. These are motivational tactics. Like I said, the whole racism part of it I do not agree with at all, but as far as everything else, we just don't know. We don't know because we are not there. Even if some of it, just because something is reported some way does not mean that it is fact. Despite the investigations that are taking place, internally, externally whatever, you can only believe probably 50 percent of what you see and hear."
Do you feel like Dez Bryant is one of the best weapons in the NFL?
"He is a tremendous weapon. He is a great athlete. He makes all kinds of plays. He had a huge game against us last year. We all remember that. He is just an explosive player."
Can teams sometimes over-invest in the quarterback position and leave themselves vulnerable at other positions?
"The quarterback position is a pretty important one so if you are going to invest somewhere I think that is typically the first place where a team is going to invest. That does not prevent you from going out and build(ing) a team around that person. Every team whether it is offense or defense, you have certain players that you build that offense or that defense around. You get pieces to the puzzle in and around this person, but there are feature people. Do we know the Cowboys are trying to get the ball to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten? Yes, because they are some of the feature guys in that offense. Just like they are looking at the film and Jimmy (Graham) is getting the ball. (Darren) Sproles is getting the ball, (Marques) Colston, Lance (Moore), all these guys and so they just like any team defensively, you kind of have your pieces that how can we get this guy in favorable matchups, pass rushing. These are the guys that are great blitzers, we are going to blitz them. All those things are just a part of this game."
How do you guys get back to balance that you are?
"Well you focus on it. You commit to it. I think the big thing is, something we have been very very good at maybe up until last week was just sticking to the plan throughout the game and just knowing that hey, even though maybe you are only getting two to three yards a rush early on, keep plugging away, plugging away and by the fourth quarter those numbers go up. It just takes a toll on the defense. I think coming out of that game after you step away from it you say, gosh we got pretty one dimensional. We were throwing the ball quite a bit there at the end. Granted we were down by two possessions before that second half so you are kind of in a situation where you have to somewhat, but still to maintain some level of balance. Listen, we still have to get more efficient both in the passing game and the running game and then understand how those complement one another and just how that helps us overall as an offense. It opens up the big play opportunities. It helps with protection, time of possession, complementary football, their defense, all those things."
Are you glad that Sean Payton is aggressive in calling pass plays?
"Yeah, like I said, there have been plenty of occasions where we go into a game and we have a certain game plan. And early in the game, mid second quarter, you realize that man, we are able to take advantage of this matchup or the deficiency of the defense or whatever it is. You just start and maybe that wasn't part of the game plan, but you have to be able to make adjustments on the run. And at halftime we are coming in hey, you know how we thought we were going to get all this, well we are not, we are getting all this so this is the stuff that is going to work best."
How do you feel about this club right now at the halfway point?
"Here is the tough part, if we were able to put together a drive and win that Jets game we would be sitting here 7-1 and saying we feel pretty good just got a come from behind victory and that kind of thing. Just one thing, you don't do and all of a sudden you are 6-2. So here we are coming off a tough loss and a game we felt like we should have won. We liked our plan going in (to the game). We feel like we matched up well. We just didn't get the job done. That part is disappointing. And then you kind of look at the stretch ahead and it doesn't get easier. It is going to be extremely tough. It is almost like a new season begins. We've learned a lot from the first eight games, both good and bad. We know the areas in which we need to improve. We are going to need to see those improvements if we are going to win these games when you look at the stretch. No more important game than this one because coming off a loss you want to get that bad taste out of your mouth, that rock out of your shoe and you want to get back on the winning side of things."
Knowing the quality of the opposition, do you feel like you have to play a lot better?
"It is not like we are pressing, we have to play perfect. It is not that. It is just like do your job kind of thing. Hey, all of us can pinpoint certain things that are lacking. So each man individually focusing on the process, the preparation and understanding that if we do that we go out and do our job, man we are tough to beat."
What do you think about your offensive ranking? When you are talking about getting things cleaned up, does that have anything to do with yards?