Metairie, La. - Drew Brees has thrown two interceptions in each of the Saints' last two games against the 49ers but will get another chance to show he can master the talented defense this Sunday.
The following are the quarterback's comments to the media, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
You have played against this San Francisco defense twice in the past two years. Are they just as potent as normal?
"As good as they've ever been. There's an expectation level every time you play those guys. They're extremely disciplined and very talented. A lot of individually great players. Obviously when you put them in there as a unit, they play very, very well together. There's a definite style, a definite scheme that they just execute to perfection."
Have they been the most difficult matchup for you guys in your time here?
"When you look at what they've been able to accomplish over the last two and a half years, it's been pretty impressive. The (last) two times we played them, it's been a tough matchup. I think the biggest areas, things that they kind of pride themselves on, is stopping the run and being physical (and) getting the ball out,. They're still tops in the league in turnovers. You've got a lot of ballhawks on that team."
Without disrespecting the previous opponent, are you curious to see how much of what you guys accomplished the other night translates to a different style of defense?
"Here's the thing: every game, every opponent is different. It's a new scheme, it's a new game plan, but I think the balance element. The success we had running the football is something that we would like to be able to continue to be able to repeat. That doesn't mean you're going to go out and rush for 240 yards per game, but I think the commitment to it, the emphasis on it, and the buy-in from everybody is important."
You talk about how sometimes you are unhappy about leaving plays on the field when you look back at that game now that you've watched the film. Is it one of those games where everything just worked?
"There's always stuff. Rarely do you have those games where it's like everything just comes together. Maximum efficiency in all areas, we always preach that. Rarely do you get that close to it."
Knowing how well the team plays at home, how important is it to be at home in the playoffs for this team?
"I think it's important for any team, certainly it has served us well. It's something you always strive for. Obviously that's a long way away, but in the past when we have gone on the road in the playoffs, the mindset has been no different. The preparation has been no different. Unfortunately we haven't been that successful on the road in the playoffs as we have at home, but it's not like we dread going on the road. Not one bit. I would say that if you would look at our road record over the past eight years, and that's a pretty big study or big profile, I'd say we've been pretty good."
How much does the noise or environment factor into the offense when you go on the road?
"Of course, from a communication standpoint, it's easier for me to sit here and talk to you as opposed to having to signal something to you. I feel like we put a lot of time into the communication aspect of things, just with body language and signals, identification. I feel like it has served us well for the most part."
After giving Marques Colston the week off, was he the closest he has been to 100% this past Sunday?
"He looked great. I think he felt great. Marques is a tough guy and he's always battling something. But he's always going to be present and he's always going to give you his best and he's always going to be a playmaker and there for you in crunch time."
We talked a lot about Mark Ingram's emotion in the game Sunday night. Did you see even maybe a little bit of that in Marques's touchdown? That was probably the quietest month he's ever had in a Saints uniform.
"I don't know. He's so steady all the time. I don't think. At least for me, you always know what you're going to get from him. Some games are going to be bigger than others or just kind of the way they play out. Maybe a couple of games stretch where he's catching a lot of balls, catching a lot of touchdowns, and then all of the sudden there's a quieter few weeks. But during those quieter few weeks, Lance Moore is having a big day. It's Kenny Stills or Meachem. I think you guys have seen enough of it over the last few years that we spread it out quite a bit in that way."
Have you seen a lot of Eric Reid highlights from his time at LSU or have you seen him on film this year?
"Yeah I have seen a lot of him. He's a very talented player. He's big, fast, physical. He fits well into that defense."
Can you talk about the offensive line and how well they kept you clean on Sunday?
"Absolutely. Here's the thing: you don't want to hang on too much to any previous game, whether it was good or bad. You take the things from it for 24 hours; you learn from it, you build on it, what have you. Certainly there's confidence builders and momentum builders, but we came off of a tough loss at the Jets, we wanted to get back on the winning track. It was Sunday Night Football against a very good NFC opponent in the Cowboys. You get a big win, now you're 7-2. Look at the rest of our season. It's not going to be an easy task, and it starts this week. There's no bigger game than this game, especially based upon the previous meetings with this team where they have had our number. We need to play better, execute better, and find a way to win."
I know it's never the focus, but how much do you feel like you owe San Francisco?
"It's nothing about owing. It's nothing about revenge. This is our next game. It gets us to 8-2 (if we win), and it allows us the opportunity to beat a very very good opponent. One that you have to sit here and say that there's a great chance that they're going to be in the postseason. I know that's there expectation level. I'd be extremely shocked if they weren't. When you have mirroring expectation levels, you just know the type of game it's going to be."
Do you anticipate seeing a little bit more of Aldon Smith trying to come after you this week than he played last week?
"I would expect so. I would expect that they would continue to increase his rep count. We plan to see a lot of him."
Do you think that more than a lot of teams, the 49ers try to bait you into throwing balls over the middle? Is there something they try to do to make you throw a bad pass?
"I think every defense tries to fool you, tries to give you certain looks that you haven't seen before, or disguise certain looks to make you think it's something else. That's part of this game, but you still trust your instincts and what you've been taught within the scheme and execute."
Kaepernick's decision making has been under a lot of scrutiny on the west coast. What are your thoughts on him in his second year?
"I don't think I've seen any of their offense this year in any of our game planning for other teams. We just haven't come across any of those. It seems like they're playing other teams after we do, as opposed to before. He's still a playmaker. We certainly know what he's capable of, both running the football out of the backfield and throwing the football down the field. Let's not forget that this is a guy that took them to a Super Bowl last year. I know our guys are preparing for that kind of guy, and I don't see why anything has changed."
How much of the Michigan way of Bo Schembechler do you see in Jim Harbaugh?
"I think obviously we all have our influences. Sean Payton has some heavy influences from Bill Parcells and others. I think those things come out. I was with Marty Schottenheimer for a long time and I kind of know his disciples and the things they've taken from Marty. Bo Schembechler was at the college ranks but now has this tree of coaches or players that have played for him that I'm sure are carrying on part of his legacy through the way that they coach and that tough old school mentality. Certainly the way that these guys play, if you want to say that's old school Big 10 smashmouth football. That certainly seems to be the style they play on defense."
There's different ways to win in this league, and it seems like this one is a great matchup of two differing philosophies on how to win, at least offensively.
"If you just looked at the sheer numbers. I guess all you could look at would be rushing attempts, passing attempts, rushing yards, passing yards, then maybe it'd be different. I think the philosophy of (taking) care of the football, (being) efficient at what you do, (scoring) points, (playing) good defense, I'd say those are constants in this league. Just because one team runs a 3-4 and another team runs a 3-4, it doesn't mean that they're running the identical same scheme. There's variations too. Just because one team is running the west coast and another team is running the west coast, doesn't mean they're the same offense. There's variations too. Everybody puts their own little spin on it, but the philosophies of we know what wins football games is the same. Take care of the football, play good defense, rush the football well, play good special teams. That wins football games."
When a team is known for running the football effectively, is it also a factor in winning the physicality battle of the game?