METAIRIE — Drew Brees might be entering his 19th season in the NFL but the future Hall of Famer still gets excited for training camp.
“Yeah, absolutely. This is where it all truly begins,” Brees said. “You obviously worked very hard during the offseason on certain things, whether that be on your own and then as that transitions into OTAs and minicamp, but here we are in training camp where you really start stacking those bricks so to speak to build the foundation by which we’re going to be able to do great things this year.”
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the New Orleans Saints is also relishing being an elder statesman on the game. Not only is Brees serving as the unquestioned leader of the team’s offense, and the team as a whole, but he is also enjoying coaching the younger players on the roster.
“That’s the fun part in a lot of ways. That’s what keeps you young,” Brees said. “I feel like I have lived it so many times that I know the way it is supposed to look. I know the way it is supposed to feel, I know the timing. As I sit there and communicate that to a young guy, I can sit there and just tell him story after story about rep after rep that would back that up. Then we have the chance to go out there and rep it together.”
Brees added, “I like to think when those guys listen to me and I’m telling stories about this rep with Marques Colston, this rep with Jimmy Graham and this rep with Lance Moore, whoever it might’ve been with, you know there’s some credibility there. I saw what you guys and that offense was able to do when you were clicking on all cylinders and all these guys want to be part of something like that again.”
Brees and the Saints are looking to avoid being part of yet another heartbreaking end to the season.
Two seasons ago, New Orleans lost to Minnesota in the NFC Divisional Round on a fluke last-second play. Then last season, the team lost 26-23 in overtime at home inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game — this time aided by a blown call by the officiating crew.
That loss though only gave Brees more fuel to remain focus and find ways to improve himself this past offseason.
“That’s really what it is. It’s just finding ways to stay young, feel young, recover, be as efficient as possible,” Brees said. “Having the body operate as efficient as possible. Doing all the little things that can help me be as accurate as possible. Be as quick as possible. Just all those little things.”
Efficiency was a topic of discussion at the opening of training camp — in particular how the team faded offensively down the stretch. Through the first 11 games of last season, the Saints averaged 34 points per game and surpassed 40 points or more six times.
In the final five regular season games, the Saints averaged 23.4 points and only scored 20 and 23 points in the two playoff games.
“We weren’t as efficient,” Brees said. “Just missed on some things that should have been routine stuff and maybe didn’t catch some of the breaks that we were catching early. Nothing major.”
The Saints might not have been as efficient but they were still winning games — and that is all that matters to Brees. Which was captured by this exchange between Brees and a reporter on Friday.
Reporter: “What do you say tot he critics when they’re looking at the stats are different from the first half of the season. What happened in the last half?”
Brees: “Were we winning?”
Reporter: “You were winning.”
Brees: “We just weren’t beating people 48-7.”
As for that discussion surrounding the eventual drop off for older quarterbacks, Brees is well aware and is taking an approach to combat that decline.
“I study all that stuff,” Brees said. “I feel like I’m pretty aware of what you lose with the aging process. And so, everything I do from a training perspective, recovery perspective is to combat that. You just try to stay ahead of that curve and so far it feels like I’m beating it.”