“You don’t go out and say, ‘I’m gonna try to throw for 500 this week or throw more than seven touchdowns,’” Brees said.
But the New Orleans Saints, who have now climbed back into playoff contention at 4-4 thanks to a three-game winning streak, definitely want to keep the momentum going after their dramatic 52-49 victory over the New York Giants.
“Listen, you take some of the things that we did well in this game and you say, ‘OK, we can build on that, for sure,’” Brees said. “And then there were plenty of things we can get better at. There really was.”
The Saints have been in this spot before -- a few times, actually -- and it has never worked out for them.
They started 0-4 in 2007 and fought back to 4-4. They started 0-4 in 2012 and fought back to 5-5. They started 1-3 last year and fought back to 4-4.
Each time, they finished 7-9.
When asked what he has seen on the field to make him believe this time could be different, Brees quickly responded, “We’re improving.”
“We’re starting to become more efficient. We’re honing in on kind of our bread and butter and forming our identity, which we didn’t have I’d say four or five games ago,” Brees said. “So all those things are really positive.”
One big difference from those slow starts in years past is that this Saints team is much younger, with many more newcomers on the roster.
Nearly half the Saints' roster was overturned from last season. New Orleans is starting three rookies and one first-year NFL player from the Canadian Football League on defense. The Saints have 11 rookies on the roster overall. Their top two wide receivers are both second-year pros (Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead).
Brees, coach Sean Payton and other players have talked repeatedly about how much they like the character and the camaraderie of the locker room this year -- which allowed them to stay confident despite a 1-4 start. That confidence has only grown now that their work is being validated on the field.
Brees and Payton said the ability they have shown to overcome adversity should help them even more.
“Oh for sure, for sure. Because we get in a close game now, we feel like we’re gonna find a way to win,” Brees said. “Whether that’s offense on the field or defense on the field or special teams needing to make a play like they did last week (a big punt return, fumble recovery and 50-yard field goal in the final seconds).
“Versus the beginning of the year, when we came out on the losing end on a couple of those. Lately, it’s been the other way around, and that builds confidence. And you feel like no matter what the scenario, we’ll find a way.”
As I pointed out Wednesday, the Saints' schedule also gives them a great opportunity to keep building momentum, starting with this week’s home game against the 1-6 Titans.
The Saints have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFC, based on opponents’ winning percentage. And they have the easiest remaining schedule in the entire NFL, based on a formula designed by Football Outsiders.