Courtesy of the New Orleans Saints official website
Q: What is your reaction to losing the three teammates like you did?
Drew Brees: “It was tough. I don’t know the inside scoop. Obviously there was a decision that was going to be made after hearing the testimony from everybody, but all I know is we don’t have them here for the last four weeks, and they are obviously two guys that are very important to this team.”
Q: As a player, believing the story of those guys, do you think there could have been a fine or some other punishment?
Drew Brees: “I guess. With that rule, the way that they kind of look at it or the stance they’re taking is, is this a gray area? It’s so hard. I can say knowing those guys as people, that they would never take anything where it was against the rules, that it had to be one of those situations where they took something and were not told about everything that was in it or something was kept from them, so then they tested positive. It’s unfortunate.”
Q: Do you look at it like if it’s hard for those three players to win a case, then it’s hard for anybody to win a case?
Drew Brees: “Yes. There were so many guys. You’re not just talking about this team. There were eight or nine players I guess. Do you revisit the rules maybe? I don’t know, because then there’s a gray area. Every guy that is found to have something in their system says ‘I don’t know what I’m taking.’ It’s hard to say how you would go about that. I just know the type of people those guys are and I know that they wouldn’t be taking something that they knew was harmful.”
Q: Is it even tougher missing those guys in the locker room?
Drew Brees: “That’s just as important as the productivity in my opinion. Their locker room presence, just the types of guys they are on the practice field, their work ethic. They lead by example. It’s going to be tough to lose them.”
Q: Were you prepared for this?
Drew Brees: “You always prepare yourself throughout the year to lose guys, whether it be injury or you never say we’re going to lose guys to suspension. If they’re injured, they can’t play for you. They’re not there. I think you always prepare for certain guys to be gone, now when you’re looking at 15 guys on injured reserve and three guys suspended, it’s tough to swallow that.”
Q: Can you talk about how this could affect you on the field?
Drew Brees: “We’re not going to make any excuses, because we’ve had young guys step in and do a great job, guys that otherwise would not have had opportunities. Now we’re seeing the type of players they are and how they are going to help us out the rest of this year and long term. There’s no doubt that we’re going to be able to bounce back. Other guys are going to get playing time. We signed a couple guys off the street and off the practice squad today. I’m sure you’ll see them on Sunday and hopefully they’ll help us.”
Q: Do you see the chance for still making the playoffs because you are not under .500?
Drew Brees: “I’d say this year is probably one of the more competitive years in the NFC. There was a time in San Diego when we could have gone 11-5 and not made the playoffs. There were a couple games we played where you kind of shake your head at that. It’s the situation we’re in. You have a lot of good teams in our division and obviously the NFC’s pretty strong when you look at the playoff picture. Looking anywhere past this week is not very beneficial for us. We’ll worry about this week and worry about the rest.”
Q: Do you find it relevant that no NFC South team has lost a game on their home field yet?
Drew Brees: “I’m glad you told me that stat now. That’s a little extra motivation. We just have to go, show up and play our game. I guess that’s an interesting stat. Hopefully that will hold true here for our next two NFC South games.”
Q: Is that indicative of how competitive the conference is?
Drew Brees: “Sure. I think it plays a role. It plays a factor, definitely. It shows how evenly matched the teams are. It would mean, home or away to determine the difference in the team, just because of the advantages of playing at home.”
Q: Did you guys underestimate Atlanta or did they show you something you didn’t expect?
Drew Brees: “We definitely didn’t underestimate them, but what they did show is that they are a much different team than in the past, just in regards to their confidence level. They’re playing with a lot of confidence. They expect to go out and win and obviously their 8-4 record proves that. They’re played extremely well lately. We knew we had our work cut out for us, especially playing them there and them really beating us pretty soundly, that just gives us extra motivation.”
Q: When you look at the division, obviously most of the teams are run based. It seems like our team likes to throw the ball a lot more. Do you think you guys have to change?
Drew Brees: “We’re going to do what works. We want to be balanced. We talk balance with practice balance and we preach it. We get into a game, see what works. When we’re at our best is when we’re able to mix the run and pass effectively. When you look at it at the end of the day, it’s pretty even, then there are those times where it’s weighted to the other and with us it’s more pass. We won this division back in 2006 doing the same stuff we’re doing now.”
Q: How do you categorize this week’s game? Is it beyond the must win categorization and backs against the walls comments?
Drew Brees: “Yes, throughout the season, you guys would wait for the game I say would be a must win. It’s safe to say if you look at the rest of our division, in order for us to make the playoffs, if you look at the NFC, in order for us to win the playoffs, we probably have to win out. That doesn’t mean we’re going to go out this Sunday and win four games this Sunday. We can only win one game. But I would say it’s very much a must win.”
Q: Is it a rallying point at all that two of the suspended players could return if the team qualified for the playoffs?
Drew Brees: “We’ve talked about it with the possibility that these guys could be gone. We’ll hold the fort down while you’re gone, and make sure you’re back in it and throw the pads back on in January.”