The Atlanta Falcons (1-1) face the New Orleans Saints (1-1) in an early NFC South division game Sunday (1 p.m, FOX) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Here’s what Saints quarterback Drew Brees had to say during his Wednesday press conference with the New Orleans media:
Your completion percentage has gone up this year. Every year it's gotten a little bit better. Is there any correlation between your experience and that?
“Completions are good right? Those are positive plays. Trust and confidence in the guys I’m throwing to. Getting time to be able to do it with the guys up front it's everybody working together. Just time on task. Experience, wisdom, a little bit all that stuff.”
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What makes them an effective defense and do they change much without Deion Jones and (Keanu) Neal?
“Obviously, those are two really really good players and key parts of defense, but they’ve got a lot of good players. The guys who have filled in have done a good job. They have mixed amassed a little bit, but the scheme is what the scheme is and they play it very well. Dan Quinn does a great job. Marquand Manuel does a great job. They're very disciplined, they play very well together.
Given how well Deion Jones has played against you guys, I’m sure you’re not too upset he’s not playing?
“He's a very good player. He is obviously a guy you recognize where he is at all times. Very smart. He’s around the ball a lot so when balls get tipped and things like that he's usually in the place to make a play. If you're around the ball, good things happen.”
What were the things that stalled the offense during the first three quarters against the Browns on Sunday?
“I missed (Benjamin) Watson on an easy touchdown, I missed Ted Ginn on another one. You add those up and we probably should’ve had 20 points going in to halftime and then it would be a totally different conversation. Every play counts, every opportunity counts.”
You have been less balanced on offense so far, what are the factors that have contributed to that?
“In the first game, obviously we were doing a lot of good things in the passing game in the first game so it's not like we couldn't run the ball, but we kind of got in a situation where we had to had to score quickly and score a lot. This last game, I would say it was not one of our better run running games efficiency wise, but we did have a couple of good ones at the end of the game and the fourth quarter that I felt like were pivotal in those drives. Whether it be, I remember Alvin (Kamara) getting a 16-yard gain on I think one of the first plays from scrimmage in the fourth quarter that spurred our touchdown drive and then we got a key third key third down conversion as well. That’s definitely something that we recognize and we always talk about balance. We want balance.”
What do you think about how Tre’Quan Smith has played so far?
“He has not received a ton of opportunities, but I think as the season progresses his opportunities will come. I think we just keep stressing to him you have to be ready for those opportunities. Time on task between us and in practice and having those opportunities to build that chemistry. I think he can be a big part of what we do down the road.”
In going to Mike Thomas as much as you have, do you consciously think you’d like to spread it around more, or as long as he’s there will you just keep going to him?
“No. It's all within the framework of the player, or the concept, or what's going on. You are always identifying matchups and different things. But he's, for one reason or another, I know he's caught a lot of balls the last two weeks. He's got gotten open. He’s done a great job with that. His number’s been called. Probably the combination of a lot of things, but I feel like we've got other guys that can do it too. It's just a matter of what the defense is going to give us.”
But you don't worry about that personally?
“No. I'm going to throw it to the open guy. Move the chains. Score points.”
Is practice more intense this week because you are playing the Falcons?
“It is a divisional opponent, and it is a very, very good divisional opponent. It is a playoff team. (This) Team was in the Super Bowl two years ago. A team that is extremely talented and I think we just know the type of game it is. They’re usually one-possession games. They’re usually extremely hard-fought and you've got to be as good as you possibly can be against these guys.”
Tampa beats the defending Super Bowl champs last week, Atlanta almost beat them, Carolina beat Dallas, what does that say about your division?
“We all have to face each other at some point, right? All the teams you mentioned we're going to be facing. So it's overwhelming if you start looking at the whole season. That is why you just focus on one game at a time, one opportunity at a time. We know if we play our best football I think we're very hard to beat. I don't think we’ve played near our best football yet.”
Do you feel like you’ve faced a Dan Quinn defense several times, or if it changes every year?
“No. I think it's similar in a lot of ways. Obviously, you feed off some of the components to the defense that you have. But look at that defense in Seattle. You’ve got great corners. Atlanta’s got great corners. You have good linebackers. You have a great Mike linebacker. These guys do. You’ve got a great strong safety, right? These guys do. It's all those components, pass rush. You draft pass rushers. These guys have drafted pass rushers. You just kind of go down the line with the way that you build the structure of this defense and they've done a great job of it.”