Drew Brees on Week 1 Loss to Packers: “Despite everything that happened, we still had that chance and that opportunity.”

September 15, 2011 – 8:00 am by Michael Bean

Sunday and Monday may not have been chock full of exciting action across the National Football League, but the 2011 season sure did start with a bang last Thursday night when the defending champion Green Bay Packers narrowly edged the New Orleans Saints, 42-34, at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees were both fantastic, combining for 731 yards, 6 TDs and 0 INTs. Brees had 419 yards and three of those touchdowns, and nearly led the Saints down the field on a miraculous last-minute drive only to see the Packers stuff rookie running back Mark Ingram at the goal line on the game’s final play. The tackling by the Saints was atrocious, but if Brees’ play was any indication of how dangerous the Saints are going to be in 2011, than expect New Orleans to be right there in the thick of things come December and January. For now, the loss was a ‘no harm, no foul’ situation, as all four NFC South teams lost in Week 1. Next up for Brees and the Saints is a home tilt with the Chicago Bears, a team that’s given them fits in recent memory.

Brees joined WWL in New Orleans with Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia to talk about the heartbreaking loss to Green Bay to start the 2011 season last Thursday night, how tough it was to lose on the game’s final play after battling back from big deficits throughout, the Saints’ inability to convert in the red zone efficiently, the need to capitalize on scoring opportunities and to protect the football this Sunday against the Chicago Bears, how he was able to keep the Saints composed down 14 points early on in the game, the impressive Saints’ debut by Darren Sproles, the revamped pregame chant for the Saints this year (video below), and how the team will still have an honorary captain lead the ‘Who Dat’ chant at home games this season.

On the season opening loss to the Packers last Thursday night:

“Obviously we started slow getting down 14 points in the 1st quarter. I felt like we responded really well after that, we weathered the storm, I thought we showed pretty good composure. We came up with a big play on the punt return by Sproles to get us back in it, and we went into halftime feeling like we hadn’t played anywhere near our best football and yet we were still within reach. And all you want is a chance to win it in the end. We had that chance despite everything that happened throughout the whole game, we still had that chance and that opportunity.”

How tough was it to lose on the final play of the game from the one-yard line:

“Yeah it was tough. I think the most telling stat for us is we were 1-of-5 in red zone efficiency. So we only had one touchdown in five trips, we kicked two field goals, and then on the other two occasions we got stopped on fourth down in the third quarter, and than obviously we got stopped on the last play of the game with that one shot from the one yard line. So obviously I’m confident that had we had a few more chances at first and goal from the 1 we would have scored, but there was no time left on the clock and that was the last play. So that was disappointing because that’s one of our big points of emphasis, especially as an offense this year, being very effective and efficient in the red zone. So to start off 1-of-5 is not where we want to be, but to make five trips into the red zone against that team is saying something. We scored two touchdowns on long passes outside of the red zone, but then we only scored once inside the 20 out of five tries. So we’ve got to get better.”

On the upcoming game against Chicago and their propensity to force turnovers:

“It’s definitely a big challenge. Like you said, statistically they’ve been the best at it over the last seven years since Lovie Smith’s been there. And every time we’ve played them that’s what’s been our biggest Achilles heel. Back in ’06 in the NFC Championship Game, I think we had maybe three or four, in ’07  we had a few, and then again in ’08. So that’s definitely an area that we have to improve upon if we want to hang on these guys, because that’s what they do and that’s what they preach. And it works for them, they have a winning formula so we need to take care of the football. That’s always priority number one, especially in a game like this.”

How he as the team leader keeps his team composed when the team was down 21-7 in the first quarter:

“Well we’ve been there many times. When I look at our Super Bowl run in ’09, we fell behind 14-plus points a couple of times and were able to rally and come back. We understand, especially in that game going into that environment on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions that they might come out like gangbusters, and you know what, we might have to weather the storm, and we did. Another thing is in ’06 when we played at Green Bay, it was a very similar situation — we had three turnovers in the first quarter and were down 13-0 and came back and won that game 34-27. So there’s plenty of instances that we can look at where we’ve had to overcome that adversity early on. I think a lot of it is just the type of guys you have. Nobody is going to overreact, we know what we have to fix, we know what we have to clean up and if we just continue to do things the right way, the ball is going to bounce our way we’re going to catch some breaks, and we’re going to get back in this thing.”

On the impressive debut of Darren Sproles in his Saints debut, as well as the nice outing by Devery Henderson:

“They all did. Obviously Sproles, one of the new additions, I think we all see how versatile he is not only just on offense in the run game and pass game, but also on special teams. He’s a weapon and obviously we just can’t get him the ball enough. Obviously the ability to spread it around and mix and match and his versatility really give us an advantage. Ingram having a great start to his career, and others, so I’m excited for those guys and the opportunity they have moving forward here.”

On the new pregame chant, and if there’s still plans to have an honorary captain lead the Who Dat chant before each home game:

“I don’t know about you guys, but I love the ‘Who Dat’ chant before the game. I think everybody is into it, and it seems to get everybody hyped up. Plus that dome just seems to shake when everybody is hollering. So all the feedback on that has been great, so yeah, we’ll definitely continue to do that. Every week that we play at home, it’s going to be whoever our honorary captain is, so I can’t tell you who it’s going to be this week, I’m not sure. But it just will be a surprise every time. As far as the chant that we do pregame when the o-line comes out of the tunnel and we get ready for pregame, that was inspired during training camp, just a couple of the guys together; you know, a song came on somebody’s iPod that spoke to us a little bit, so we kind of modified the words to fit our team. And that’s become our chant. Everybody digs it, so that’s what we’re doing it.”

Listen here to Brees on WWL in New Orleans

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