Metairie, La. - The Saints are well into their preparations for the Falcons Thursday but Drew Brees spent most of his media availability Tuesday discussing an illegal hit on him by 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks.
The following is a copy of the conversation, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Can you talk about how much the improved running that the team has had in the last two games has changed the dynamic of your offense?
"Yeah. Obviously it's extremely beneficial when you talk about balance and controlling the clock and establishing the line of scrimmage in a game and also the way it opens up the play-action and opportunities for big plays."
Is it beneficial for you to walk into the Georgia Dome and remember what happened last time you were in there?
"I would say more so it's playing them the first game of the season, just knowing the last time we played that wasn't a good day. You want to kind of get past that and get on to better things. I feel like we're past that. We've played enough games in that stadium, knowing the types of games they've always been."
But for you it was such an unusual game…
"Yeah, but it's over."
How much did we see a rust factor on a Thursday night last year at Atlanta?
"There was no rust in that game, honestly. I felt as good going into that game as I've ever felt physically, mentally. For one reason or another, I can look at every one of those throws and say, 'This is what happened on each of them.' I left the ball a little inside on the first one. Tipped off the running back's hands on the second one. Never should've thrown the third one; I tried to force it. The fourth one, we were in two-minute mode, getting my arm hit on one and tried to force the other one. All things that are preventable."
How much did the first game against them this season laid the groundwork for what your team is able to accomplish now?
"Every win is a confidence builder. Week one, obviously you want to get off to a good start against a divisional opponent in the Atlanta Falcons, a team that won the division last year and was the one seed in the playoffs. Obviously with just the hype going into the season, you know the type of momentum that can be gained from a game like that. And the way we won it: a tight game (with a) defensive goal line stand. Then you could go to the following week at Tampa (and say the) same thing: a divisional game on the road, won in a similar sort of way. Those are all huge confidence builders, momentum builders."
Are you surprised that the Ahmad Brooks hit has generated such attention with Ray Lewis and Tedy Bruschi having comments about it?
"Honestly I haven't seen their comments. I heard they commented on it. I assume there were some defensive players who would disagree (with the penalty assessed). Here's the thing: I don't think there was anything malicious about it. I don't think anything was intentional about it. I think anybody that's watching the game in real time, live speed, nobody's going to say that wasn't a penalty. When you slow it down, it looks like he hits me *here* (chest), but I get up and my mouth is bleeding, so I don't know if you get hit in the chest and your mouth bleeds."
Ray Lewis said you're lucky you aren't 6'5 like Peyton Manning or else that hit would've been in your chest, and said he would pay half of Ahmad Brooks' fine.
"Yeah I heard something about that. Well, there would be maybe a lot of other things I could do if I was 6'5 too. But I'm not complaining, I guess sometimes it pays to be 6'0."
You kind of coached Corey White on the sideline a little bit after he got those same type of penalties a few weeks ago. Do you think they've almost gone too far with limiting that strike zone for defensive players?
"No. I would say this: it makes it difficult. It makes it extremely difficult for pass rushers and safeties, guys that are hitters and guys going after the quarterback, especially because for guys going after the quarterback because there's so many uncompromising positions that guys are in. You're battling a guy and then all of the sudden the quarterback is there. A lot of times they are swiping at the ball. When they're swiping at the ball and they catch a part of your head, there's things like that that are just a glancing thing, no big deal. I think the lead with the head or explode up through your head/chin area…Again I don't think what Ahmad Brooks did was intentional at all. I think he's a heck of a football player and a clean football player…a hardnosed, clean football player. You look at the result of that, and again it's in real time, we can slow it down all you want and watch it and say, 'Oh, look where the..' But I can tell you how it felt when I got hit: it felt like my head got ripped off and I get up and I've got a mouth full of blood. There was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be a penalty, but it is hard."
In general, do you think the rules are where they need to be?
"I'm a quarterback so I benefit from that, but yeah. The design for these rules are to protect defenseless players. So quarterbacks in the pocket, receivers coming across the middle, and that kind of thing. They're starting to institute more rules for defensive lineman, (in regards to ) getting cut, guys at the line of scrimmage, low blocks, and that kind of thing. I'd say it's more heavily weighted to help offensive players more than defense, but it goes for both teams. It's not like it's just our offense. It's everybody's offense. It's everybody's quarterback. You can make the argument that some guys are 6'5 and some guys are six foot, but…"
Did you see the picture on social media of you with the long neck?
"I thought it was funny because I saw the replay and it looked like I went 'Go-go gadget neck.'
Was that one of the hardest hits you have taken?
"Here's the thing: it really wasn't as bad as it looked. I mean you're shaken up right away, but I mean I got up and I was fine. The look of it, again real time/real speed on TV, and you get crumpled up at the same time, I mean you look like a crash test dummy when that happens."
As a quarterback will you throw the ball away that appears to be uncatchable just because the receiver has been interfered with and is not open?
"Yes there have been plenty of times where I've seen one of my guys getting grabbed and getting almost pulled down, and I will throw it there so that everyone's eyes go there to see that. You don't always get the call, but sometimes you do, and that's the point of doing that. I think with mine, I threw the ball to where Kenny (Stills) was and not necessarily where he was going. So I threw it to where he was and he turned up the field and ended in the back corner of the end zone and the ball was coming at this trajectory. But I wasn't under duress or anything. I think there's kind of different scenarios to the rule, but we overcame it."
Last week I think was the second time this season that you have completed passes to double-digit targets. I know you love that about this offense, but is that unusual in your experience to do that as much as you do in professional football, especially with the egos sometimes involved?
"Yes, but we've got a great group of guys. We've got just completely unselfish. Everybody buys into the system and what we're trying to do. When you look at a game plan, everybody knows that they've got these certain number of opportunities but you really don't know how it's going to shake out during the course of a game. We're equal opportunity. Whoever's getting open, whoever's got the matchup, whoever's got the hot hand. We kind of feel that and see that as the game is going on. Guys kind of know that if it's not this week or next week, it might be the following week as you see. Also everybody knows that, 'Hey, my opportunity could come at any moment and I've got to be ready.'"
Was Josh Hill the number one option on his touchdown?