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SmashMouth 08-31-2013 07:07 AM

New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason
 
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Life is looking pretty rosy for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees lately.

There's no contract negotiations or bounty suspensions looming. The black cloud that hung over the team is long gone, replaced with coach Sean Payton back in his usual position on the sideline.

Finally, it's just about football.

This summer has been a breath of fresh air for Brees, an offseason that he said felt normal for the first time in years.

And when he ran off the field after a practice mid-August, Brees looked as relaxed as he had in a while.
http://imgick.nola.com/home/nola-med...434-mmmain.jpg
"Yeah JG, that's me baby!" he yelled to Jimmy Graham after a victory in a post-practice competition against quarterbacks Ryan Griffin and Luke McCown.

Graham paused in the middle of speaking to reporters to laugh.

"It's good that he keeps winning those challenges over there. It does wonders for him," Graham quipped.

Those are the kinds of welcomed distractions the Saints' offense has these days. And after a rollercoaster 7-9 season, the players will take it.

Last season started with a crawl and ended with a limp. It began early in the offseason without Brees, who was mired in contract negotiations, while Payton was suspended by the NFL as part of the bounty scandal.

Brees stayed away from the training facility as his deal got hammered out, so his contact with players was limited to texts and phone calls in the early part of the summer. Payton's interaction was nonexistent as per league mandate.

"That year when (Brees) was gone, he used to text me every couple of days asking me how the guys were doing," Graham said. "So to have him here early pushing me especially and telling me all the things I'm doing wrong is only for the better.

"Especially having a lot of younger receivers right now, that sets up and puts us in a better situation."

There are multiple answers to what went wrong last season. And perhaps it's a testament to Brees that he's considered to be coming off a down year, despite making the Pro Bowl for the fifth straight season.

Brees led the league in yards (5,177), touchdowns (43), and yards per game (323.6), while the offense ranked second overall. However, he also threw a league-high 19 interceptions, prompting declarations from pundits that he tried to overcompensate for a shaky defense.

He broke Johnny Unitas' 52-year-old record of 47 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass then following that several weeks later with arguably the worst game of his career, when he threw five interceptions and no touchdowns in a 23-13 loss at Atlanta to end the streak at 54 games.

Brees always has been the focal point of the offense. But he never had so much weight on his shoulders as he did this past season, when the Saints' defense gave up an NFL-record 7,042 yards. He had four games with more than 50 pass attempts; the Saints won only one of the four.

With Brees at the helm, the Saints aren't going to deviate from their aerial attack, but they've acknowledged they want to be more balanced.

"That is something that you look forward to seeing in the offense and something we are anxious to see as a running back corps to get out there and do, to keep that ground game going and help us be balanced on offense and open up the passing game," said running back Pierre Thomas.

Getting that balance back and establishing chemistry early was something the offense pledged to do in training camp. And while veteran Marques Colston was out most of camp with a nagging foot injury, Brees was able to work with up-and-coming receivers Kenny Stills and Nick Toon.

"I've certainly been locked in, understanding the challenge that's ahead of us and knowing that we have some young guys that you are trying to catch up and work in the mix, just get them right in the flow," Brees said. "Obviously, Lance Moore and Marques Colston and I have had a lot of time together, going on eight years together.

"So, there is just this intuitiveness, this ESP that we all kind of have together where we see the same things, we know what the adjustments are and you don't even have to think about them, you just react and it just happens. You want to get that way with these young receivers, but that takes time. "

Added Colston: "That is who Drew is. Really, seeing him work day in and day out, it's really not surprising anymore. He puts in the work and deserves to have the success that he's had."

Toon and Stills have been quick to display that chemistry. Toon caught a 56-yard pass from Brees against the Oakland Raiders, and Stills has been one of Brees' favorite targets during preseason games.

Toon said he's admired Brees since college and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, with whom Toon played a season at Wisconsin, used to pattern himself after the Saints' signal caller. Wilson even wore a Saints hat on occasion, Toon said.

"Drew is very focused. Obviously he's extremely smart, very dedicated, meticulous about his approach to the game and his job," Toon said. "Russell Wilson ... had a very similar approach to Drew. Drew's one of his favorite players. ... He's obviously had a lot of success and tried to take the positive things from what Drew does."

Brees, who described himself as "on a mission" when training camp opened in July, has relished the sense of normalcy this offseason. His head coach is back, he has a young group of receivers to tutor and he's eager to erase the bittersweet memories of 2012.

"I walk into training camp, and it is all about football," he said. "There is nothing else swirling around, or at least nothing else that we are going to allow to distract us."

New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason | NOLA.com

QBREES9 08-31-2013 07:15 AM

Re: New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason
 
He broke Johnny Unitas' 52-year-old record of 47 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass then following that several weeks later with arguably the worst game of his career, when he threw five interceptions and no touchdowns in a 23-13 loss at Atlanta to end the streak at 54 games.

That won't happen again. The Atlanta thing !

Ignited 08-31-2013 10:17 AM

Re: New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason
 
After the show the young recievers have put on I am pretty excited to see what Drew does this year. I even seen some fantasy experts are picking stills as a sleeper.

saintsfan1976 08-31-2013 04:21 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason
 
Stills will be what Devery and Meachum were before him - fantasy rollercoasters.

dizzle88 08-31-2013 04:28 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by saintsfan1976 (Post 521883)
Stills will be what Devery and Meachum were before him - fantasy rollercoasters.

Stills looks to be a better route runner than those two though which means he can run the routes to pick up the first down or take the top off the defense

Officially excited for our young receivers

Ignited 08-31-2013 10:30 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason
 
If we see anymore consistancy from either toon or stills that would be better than henderson and morgan. Hey they were good and made good plays but another moore would be great!

Belair57 08-31-2013 10:50 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason
 
that was a good read..gracias

homerj07 09-01-2013 01:55 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason
 
A calm Drew & a coach who has had a year to chew on his suspension & develop plays. Sucks to be those other teams.

Rugby Saint II 09-02-2013 06:16 PM

Re: New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees 'on a mission' after distraction-free offseason
 
Oh yeah, Drew is putting up huge numbers this year while we run up the score.


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