NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Saints' three-game win streak has put them at .500 halfway through the 2015 campaign. Drew Brees was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his part in a 52-49 defeat of the Giants and now the troubled Titans come to town with an interim head coach.
The following is Brees' session with reporters, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
What's your take on the NFL changing Willie Snead's fumble to an interception?
"As long as they don't try and take points away from us. We still won the game. It didn't change the outcome, so we're good."
Can you even describe what a football move is?
"At this point, I can't. At this point, I can't. I know technically what it says on paper. I think, just in general, we had a couple plays against the Colts in regards to catches, then guys turning their bodies, lunging forward to try and get the first down. Their arm and ball hits the ground and the ball comes out and it was deemed incomplete. I would just ask the question, what is considered a football move? A guy turning his body lunging for a first down is a football move, but again there is just some common sense elements in regards to the rule in general. I'm not talking about the Snead play, because to be honest I haven't seen that up close enough to say one way or the other. I mean, if that ball goes to the ground and they pick it up and run for a touchdown, I think we all would be saying it was incomplete, it wasn't a fumble. So you know I think some of those plays are bang bang and I think it's hard to tell, but just in regards to that rule in general, I'd say going back to its origination, last year in the playoffs, Cowboys, Dez Bryant catching the ball, lunging for the goal line and he obviously has possession of the ball, it's just a matter of whether your deeming, did he make a football move? There are lots of different football moves."
Are there lessons to be learned from last year or is last year's team too different?
"There are always lessons to be learned, but this is definitely a different team. I think we've taken the approach that every week is important, and such a sense of urgency and there is really no margin for error. We have to come to work every day with the mindset of us having to get better, we have to improve and we have to put our best performance together each and every week to win and also to get to where we want to go."
What do you do for an encore for that performance or do you feed off it?
"No, I mean, listen, you take some things we did well in this game and you say we can build on that for sure and then there were plenty of things we can get better at. There really was. You don't go out and say I'm going to try to throw for 500 yards this week or throw for seven touchdowns. I mean there are a lot of things that have to come together for that to happen, and so look how much football we have all played and that's only happened very few times. Each game is so different in regards to the game plan, in regards to the opponent. Once the game starts maybe you're having to make adjustments. I guess to simplify that answer, we are taking that game, the things that we did well, building on those things and the things we didn't do well that we need to improve."
What are you seeing on the field that make you feel like this team can go beyond .500?
"We are improving. We are starting to become more efficient. We are honing in on our bread and butter and forming an identity, which we didn't have I'd say four or five games ago. All those things are really positive."
Does fighting through adversity have something to do with the identity?
"Oh for sure, for sure, because if we get in a close game now, we feel like we are going to find a way to win. Whether that's offense on the field or defense on the field or special teams needing to make a play like they did last week. Versus the beginning of the year when we came up on the short end on a couple of those. Lately, it's been the other way around and that builds confidence and you feel like no matter what scenario, we will find a way."
What do you mean by guys being a better teammate is there something you can pinpoint?
"Yeah, well I'd say it's a feeling. I feel like everyone in our locker room is really playing for one another. Every time they step on the practice field or the game field they feel like they have something to prove to their teammates about themselves. I'd say that when good things happen to them, other guys are happy for them, instead of maybe envious or what have you. When guys care about each other, when guys want the best for each other, that's when you know you have something and that's what we have."
Did you guys foresee this kind of production from Ben Watson?
"Man, it's all just kind of happened. I've always felt like he was just a phenomenal athlete and could do everything. I mean, I don't know if there is a more complete tight end in the league, in regards to what he brings to the run game, pass game, not only catching but blocking, what he means to us in the locker room. The way that he practices, his approach, his demeanor, his leadership ability, his character, just all those things, he's the total package and he has always been that guy. I think that with Jimmy (Graham) here the past couple of years he was the guy, and Ben got his touches every now and then, but when we were talking about tight end touches we were talking about Jimmy. Now when you talk about tight end touches you talk about Ben Watson."
Did you give him (Ben Watson) any pointers for his book and have you read it yet?
"I've read nine of the chapters. I actually got an advance copy. I haven't read the last two. Those weren't complete yet. (I've) Been bugging him, saying I need those last two chapters. I said just make sure you autograph a copy for me. I think it's a phenomenal book. I think he has a tremendous voice and platform and I hope that everybody reads it because I think it's really one of those things that make you think, and I think it could really make a difference."
When did you realize how diverse he could be within the passing game in this offense? Like you said, Jimmy (Graham) ran those routes for so long. When did you realize that you could use him all over the field?
"I have always felt that way about him. I think it has just been a matter of opportunity. Obviously, he is getting the opportunities now. We started off this year with some new faces. Even a guy like Brandin Cooks, who had missed the last half of the season last year, is finding his niche which is also something that we needed to do. (Willie) Snead has continued to climb the ladder and find his way in there. Brandon Coleman brings a ton to the table. We know what Marques Colston can do. Then it was like, we have these three tight ends so what are the packages that we can do with all of these guys. I would say those first five weeks were really just finding out what we can all do, what we're capable of and what is going to be our best stuff. Now, we are able to hone in on that a little bit."
What has Michael Hoomanawanui meant for you?
"He has been great. When you can put three tight ends on the field, (it gives you versatility). The power run game is something that is evident. We can throw the ball, play-action, we can spread you out and go empty – we did that last week or two weeks ago with that group. There is just a lot that we can do and that gives defenses headaches. How are we fitting the run into this heavy personnel, and then how are we matching up when they're spreading us out or when they're trying to push the ball down the field? We're running the ball well so you have to respect the run game, and that opens up play-action opportunities. It just gives you a lot of versatility."
The big play has been lacking from this offense for a couple of years; what has led to the return of the big play in the passing game? Is it the playbook, is it the success or is it that you are taking more chances?
"I think it is a combination of all of those things, and again, finding our groove a little bit."
Were you seeking that? Was making more big plays a priority?
"I think there are more important things, (such as) protecting the football and being good in third down or red zone situations. Big plays are one of those things where you're anticipating to drive the ball then, all of a sudden, you break a tackle or they try to blitz you, you just hit a big one and the guy takes it to the house and you're like alright, that was nice. I think what you talk about is just the opportunity for them. When we have the opportunity for them, we're going to be ready to make those plays."
With the three young receivers, how far do they have to go for you to be as fluid and productive on a regular basis as you were with Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem?
"I think that it's just time on task. Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore – we had a good six or seven years together where those were the four guys. That is pretty rare in this league, to have that type of staying power and that kind of consistency between quarterback and receiver. The chemistry between us was awesome. The last two years, part of the challenge has been, (developing that chemistry). You call things a certain way in the offense and maybe it is a little bit of a double meaning, depending on the look or whatever it is. A guy like Meachem or Devery, who I have been with for seven years, I know exactly how they are going to run that route against that coverage. For a new guy, what you see on paper and what we call it is not necessarily the way that it looks, and it might change depending on that look, and yet we haven't had time to (practice) it yet. With those other guys, we had seven years of time on task. I am excited because I feel that these young guys are going to be around here for a while. We really have the chance to do something unique. We have to keep working and keep building that chemistry."
What are your impressions on what Tim Hightower can bring?
"I think Tim brings a real physical element. He really had a good training camp. It was really just a numbers game when it came down to it. Having been here, obviously, it is not like everything is new to him. He'll get back in the swing of things really quickly. He'll be able to be productive in anything we ask him to do. He can do it in the run game and in the pass game."
What have you seen from this Tennessee Titans defense?
"They are physical. They get after you. They are big and heavy up front, and I would say that that is in their run game and in their pass rush. Disruptive is the best way to describe them. On the back end, they play tight coverage all across the board. They have really done a good job. I know their record doesn't show it but they're a much better team than what their record shows, and certainly defensively, I think they play extremely well."
Was there anything in Sunday's game with you and the receivers that made you think that you were more on the same page than you have been?
"A lot of things have to go well in order for us to have the type of day that we had Sunday. I feel more and more comfortable with these guys each and every time we step on the field. It goes from practice to the game field. I think in practice we become more efficient and the expectation level is that the ball should never hit the ground in practice. It really shouldn't. I think we all have that mindset, and again, just to get on the same page with a lot of these concepts that maybe involve a little bit of decision-making on the receiver's part or some adjustments and nuances. I think our guys are getting better at that and we're getting more on the same page."
Is it more important after a game like that, with some of the younger guys, that they make sure that they turn the page?
"It is, and we have talked about that and moved on."
Was there one play that you could think about to illustrate that you and either Cooks or Snead (were on the same page)?
"I think Cooks' second touchdown, the over-the-shoulder fade-ball. Obviously, there is a lot of trust, confidence and anticipation just to put that ball there, and then have him run under it. The corner is falling off and his guy is rallying from another direction, and so there is kind of one place to put that ball, and he knows where it is going to be and he knows he has to get there. It wasn't the primo look but that is just one of those trust, feel or confidence things where he had it, I had it and it looks good when it works out like that."