Saints QB Drew Brees is pretty good…
“Yeah, he is (laughs).”
What is it that stands out when you watch him?
“He’s so efficient. He’s in total control of what they’re doing. You look at how many balls he’s completed, it’s 76 percent or something like that. It’s crazy high. He knows exactly where to go with the ball. He’s been doing it forever. He’s been so efficient throughout his whole career.”
Not many guys have had success playing QB at six-feet tall. What’s the explanation for him being so good? Is it the system, his offensive line or a combination?
“I think it’s all of it. Obviously, he’s been with (Saints head coach) Sean Payton for a really long time. It’s just how he is and how much work he puts in. One thing you see and hear from everyone that’s been there and knows Drew is just how hard he works.”
Coaches have their rookie quarterbacks watch Drew Brees’ tape all the time to learn how to emulate him. That’s a big testament, isn’t it?
“For sure. When you think about the league and the guys that have been doing it for a long time, he’s right there at the top. You see it with the records he’s broken already and the ones he’s going to break. He’s a great guy to look at.”
Is it exciting for you whenever you go up against a future Hall-of-Famer, like Drew Brees?
“For sure. That’s one thing throughout my career, that anytime you play a guy that’s going to be a Hall-of-Famer, it’s definitely cool to get to compete against those guys. When you play quarterbacks like that, you’re definitely not sitting there not watching the game when your defense is out there. You’re paying attention to what they’re doing.”
What have you noticed this season about WR Tyler Boyd’s development?
“The biggest thing is that he is so confident in what he’s doing and what he can do. Not that he wasn’t before, it’s just that with the opportunities we’re giving him he’s making the most of it. It’s allowed him to play fast, and for him to be where he’s at this year compared to last year, there’s no reason for him not to have all the confidence in the world because he’s been playing really well.”
What impact does not having WR A.J. Green have on the offense as a whole?
“You’re losing the best player on our team. Just from the start, you never want that to happen. The coverages may be different because he’s not out there. We’ll have to see the plan and what teams are going to do now with him not out there, and we’ll have to adjust.”
DE Cameron Jordan and CB Marshon Lattimore are two of their best defensive players. Are those the guys that jump out on tape when you watch the Saints’ defense?
“Yeah. They’ve got a lot of solid players. Cam Jordan up front is definitely the one that stands out. For us, we have to be stout in what we’re doing because he has a good combination of size — he’s so big, strong, and powerful — and has speed to him.”
You would think Brees would get a lot of passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, but he doesn’t. Why do you think that is?
“He’s done a great job of changing arm angles, and finding different lanes and windows to throw around guys. That’s one thing you see with him being six-foot — you would think balls would get batted down more. But he’s done a great job of changing arm angles and finding ways to get to check downs and different things.”
He’s classic pocket passer, right? He’s known to stay in the pocket as long as he possibly can…
“For sure. That’s what he’s done his whole career.”
What do you need out of WR John Ross — this week especially?
“We just need him to play his game. I’m glad we’re getting him back (from injury). He’s going to be a big part of what we do. He just needs to play his game and not worry about anything else.”
You might have a group of young WRs in the huddle Sunday. Do you make a special effort to infuse confidence in young players?
“For sure. Like what I was saying with TB (Tyler Boyd), who’s playing with a lot of confidence. You try to get everybody to play that way. Confidence is contagious. With the way he carries himself, how Joe Mixon carries himself and some of these other guys, it will rub off on everybody. You want to play fast and play your best, and that’s what we’re going to try to do with everybody we’ve got out there.”
Having HB Giovani Bernard back playing soon would be beneficial with all the injuries to WRs and TEs, right?
“You don’t want to lose anybody, but we’ve had to deal with some injuries this year. We’ve done a good job of moving guys around and mixing guys up. The guys that have been in there have helped us win.”
What has it been like for you watching the offensive line gel and play well this season?
“They’ve done a great job. If you look at the sack numbers and everything, they’ve done a really good job. It starts with what Bill (offensive coordinator Bill Lazor) has been doing, and it also goes to Frank (offensive line coach Frank Pollack). The guys we’ve had here have worked really hard. They’ve played excellent. We lost Billy Price for a while, but Trey Hopkins stepped in and played really well. Even with the couple things that have happened, our guys have done a tremendous job.”
Head coach Marvin Lewis noted that the offensive line developing a scrappy personality. Do you notice that, and how do define what their personality is?
“I think it’s kind of that — guys that are going to play through whatever. They’ve done a good job of it.”
The TE packages you worked with in the offseason and early in the regular season has gotten blown up by injuries. Do you think the new TE packages are something that, with time, can grow and help out this team?
“With a lot of the new guys, it takes a little time. We’ll have a plan for the guys that we’ve got. Matt (Lengel) and Jordan (Franks) have come in. Obviously, with Jordan being here through camp, he has a good grasp of what we’re doing. And Matt has done a great job learning.”
You guys have the No. 1 red-zone offense in the NFL. What has been the key to that, especially with all the new pieces out there due to all the injuries?
“We’ve had some really good schemes. At the end of the day, our guys have made the plays. We’ve given them opportunities to score touchdowns, and we’ve done it. We just have to keep that up.”
Hue Jackson was fired as Cleveland’s head coach last week. I know the offense is playing really well right now, and it doesn’t seem like you guys necessarily need much help on that side of the ball, but is would you like to see him back in Cincinnati in some way, shape or form?
“Right now, we’re focused on this year, this season and what we’re doing. That’s all I can stay. Obviously I loved my time with Hue. I thought Hue was a great coach. He helped me a lot. But right now, we’re focused on this year.”
How do you want to see your defense improve in this game against the Saints from what we’ve seen the past few weeks?
“We have to play better in every area. We have to do a great job tackling, win on third downs and play fundamental defense.”
What kinds of problems do the Saints present, in terms of what they do and how potent they are on offense?
“They do a great job of putting pressure on in all areas, and they run the football effectively. They have a couple of great running backs in (Mark) Ingram and (Alvin) Kamara. The quarterback (Drew Brees) delivers the football to all areas of the field.”
What kind of problems does Saints QB Drew Brees present? It seems like he can do everything out there …
“Drew is going to go through his progression. The coverages you play obviously aren’t going to be anything that he hasn’t seen. (He will) try to work the football based on what they perceive is the weakness of the coverage and based on the development of the route.”
You thought you had a good group of young receivers in training camp, but at this point it seems like no one has really stepped up outside of A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. How do you assess where they are now, and are they at the point you expected them to be at when you were in training camp?
“John (Ross) has done good things when he’s been out there and healthy. We just have to keep pressing forward, and the other guys have to continue to make plays when they get opportunities.”
You mentioned that your defense needs to be better in all areas. We’re seeing historic offensive numbers throughout the league. Based on the way that games are called now and the creativity of offensive coordinators, how do defenses catch up to the way offenses are playing?
“You have to stand with proper leverage, you need to have great eyes and the disciple to play what’s called. When you’re at the point of attack, you have to win your snap.”
Photos from the Bengals' Wednesday practice in preparation for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.
Is LB Nick Vigil going to return to practice this week, or is he still a week out?
“I don’t think he’ll return to practice this week.”
Based on what you saw in practice on Monday, was it encouraging that you might start to get some guys back, or is it too early to tell?
“We’re on the verge of that. We’ll go through the week and see how guys are able to demonstrate whether they are ready to play or not.”
You always say that, ‘You see better than you hear,’ which is a good measuring stick on guys’ readiness to come back from injuries. Do you need to see them be able to continue to practice before you make a decision on whether they play on Sunday?
“It depends on the player and what particular ailment we’re dealing with. He’s also dealing with his involvement in the plan and what he knows of the plan. It’s kind of a two- or three-layered deal.”