Metairie, La. - The Saints' well-documented history of struggling on the road, both this season and in the franchise's playoff history, will be put to the test this Saturday at Philadelphia and for the remainder of the team's playoff run as the sixth seed in the NFC.
The following are quarterback Drew Brees' comments to the media about the matchup, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Can you talk about how there are a lot of guys that have been here a while on this team and what that means?
"(There is) A lot of familiarity. We have been through a lot together. We know the expectation level. We know the preparation. I think there is a level of pride that comes along with that and accountability. You want to perform well for each other. You know how much we have invested. I think when we all, hopefully we all have a lot of time here together, but I would say it is pretty rare that you have that many guys to be here for that period of time. When it is all said and done, if we can look back and say man, we did some pretty special stuff together regular season, playoffs, championships, that's what it is all about."
Did you meet Nick Foles when you were in high school and have a relationship being 10 years apart but from the same high school?
"I met him one time and it was actually last year when we played Philly on Monday night. It was just pregame. Obviously I heard a lot about him when he was in high school at Westlake, but there was a 10-year age difference, even my brother who is three years younger than me, so even he was well before him. I followed his career. I follow a lot of the guys that leave Westlake and go on and kind of track what they are doing. But Nick, I know he went to Michigan State and then transferred to Arizona and had a great career there and then goes to Philadelphia and look at what he has done. He has been pretty impressive for such a young player, mature beyond his years. I wouldn't say that I am all that surprised because he is a Westlake guy. He has played great."
Did I read that somehow you had gotten Nick Foles in touch with Dr. Andrews?
"I've recommended a lot of people to Dr. Andrews."
Were you aware that Nick Foles broke your passing records at Westlake?
"Yeah, he went to the state championship but lost. We had a great high school program. I know they went to at least three or four state championships after my class left. They haven't won another one though. We have the only state championship victory. He has done great things, great things."
How much different of a quarterback now from when you started with the Saints in 2006?
"I (have had) a wealth of experience since then. That was my, we are talking 2006, that was my sixth year in the NFL. This is now my 13th. I've played a lot of football since then, a lot of big games since then, a lot of playoff games. I think you you do everything in the regular season just to have an opportunity at this. Now it is like you wiped the slate clean and it's all about what you can do in the playoffs. You have this opportunity. You are in the tournament. Let's go get it."
Can you talk about your first game in the playoffs as a Saint in 2006 against Philadelphia?
"That was the biggest game of all of our careers at the time. There were a lot of guys that have come (here) from different places. I know we were kind of labeled as castaways and a lot of (other) things. Guys coming from a lot of places that you were unwanted or you probably haven't had a whole bunch of success. Coming here was a fresh start for a lot of us. To have that opportunity then to host the Divisional round game and to beat Philly in the fashion that we did and have an opportunity at the NFC Championship, those are all great memories. (I remember) Deuce (McAllister) having the day he was having that day, heart and soul of the team and has been a part of this organization for so long. (I have) A lot of great memories from that."
Can you talk about having Sean Payton back and being back in the playoffs?
"That is always where the expectation has been. I know that we fell short of that last year and that was disappointing. We expected to be here with Sean, without Sean. Obviously having him back is great and he has a way of just little things to just kind of remind you of the focus and the opportunity and why we are all here."
How do you guys cope with the history of not playing well on the road and in cold weather?
"I know that Sean (Payton) answered this question for you about six times probably right? It is all about the new sweatsuits, the beefy mac and the Gatorade flavor. We feel really good about what we have going this week with that. I can't wait to see those new sweatsuits and hopefully that will change our luck."
Can you talk about how Philadelphia's pass defense has struggled this year?
"Yes, but their defense all around has been extremely solid, especially the last half of the season. They are great at taking the ball away. They are great at getting pressure on you. They fly around and make all kinds of plays. They have all kinds of playmakers at the line of scrimmage, at the linebacker position and in the secondary. I really just look at this last half of the season and they have played tremendous."
How much do you feel you can exploit them?
"I think it is really about our whole offensive philosophy and scheme and that is to be as balanced as possible, to execute very well in the run game, in the short passing game as well as with opportunities to make big plays or shots. When we are hitting on all cylinders I think that is when we are playing our best because all of those things complement one another, all of those things set the other up. We know that the great playoff teams are the teams that play really well in the playoffs are able to run the ball well. They are able to be efficient in the passing game and they take advantage of those and make big plays."
Is the humor in all of it making light of the history on the road?
"Yes, so all joking aside, we are certainly not sitting here overreacting. We understand our last three outings on the road have not been our best performances. At times you know you do have to kind of change things up so psychologically (and) you say it is going to be different this time around. Our preparation, I feel like throughout this week as we lay it out is going to be a big part of that. What you do Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in preparation for this Saturday game is what is going to allow you to play great regardless of what the conditions are. I think our past history, if you look at our long-term history, it speaks for itself in regards to the road. Like I said, the last couple of outings have not been what we want, but we know we are about to break the seal. We have no other choice, heck, it's the playoffs. It doesn't get any better than this."
When you've lost games, is it because of early turnovers?
"In Seattle we had an early one, St. Louis we had two early ones, but then Carolina we had one in the two minute drive late in the second quarter. We were a top five team in (fewest) turnovers this year offensively. I definitely say there is something with momentum on the road especially when you are in a hostile environment. Don't give them a reason to get excited. Don't give their fans a reason to stand up and get crazy. Any time you can just control the game, certainly you can score points and get a lead, that's great, but in a lot of cases you kind of weather the storm so to speak and you get rolling. I think one of our things is we really haven't started fast on the road and that is something certainly we can improve on, something we are focusing on and that can be a big part of our success too."
Do you feel like the offense has something to prove?
"No, we always have something to prove. But like I said, playoffs kind of mark the start of a new season, a new opportunity. As the sixth seed you understand that the road you travel is going to be on the road so you have no other choice. We know what we are capable of so now it is a matter of putting it all together in preparation throughout the week and going out there and executing."
Do you feel like you are getting there with the running game?
"If you've looked at us all season long, I can't say there was a game where we just abandoned the run or just became really one-dimensional except in St. Louis in the second half when you are down by three possessions and you have to be in a two-minute mode in order to score quickly. But besides that, I feel like we have been extremely balanced and have stuck with the plan no matter what is happening around us. Throughout the season, I think that has served us well."
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