New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees says there's nothing better for a team's psyche than running the ball down another team's throat the way the defending Super Bowl champions did last Sunday against Tampa Bay.
"Anytime you have a guy like Chris Ivory running over a guy or Ladell Betts same way, there's a mindset there and it just sets the tone," Brees told WWL Radio Thursday night. "It gets the defense hyped up on the sidelines. It obviously gets us hyped up as well. On offense, just feeling like, 'hey, let's dial another one up. Let's give these guys another chance to run somebody else over."
Ivory displayed a combination of power and speed as he ran for 158 yards with a physical style that belies his size. Betts ran over Tampa Bay star linebacker Barrett Ruud like he was a tackling dummy. Dallas and Seattle castoff Julius Jones broke free for a 16-yard gain in his first appearance in Black & Gold.
Ivory put on one of those performances that was reminiscent of Deuce McAllister in his prime. Ivory's effort was the best rushing performance by a Saints running back in seven years and the best in the Sean Payton era and it seemed to rejuvenate a champion that hasn't looked much like a champion in 2010.
The Saints ran for 212 total yards, averaging 6.6 yards per carry and the offensive line which had been struggling, looked dominant in opening holes for the Saints new group of running backs.
Regarding his rookie TE Jimmy Graham, a former college basketball player at Miami who had his first NFL TD reception called back for offensive pass interference, Brees told WWL, "It's a great trait to have, that basketball mentality that (Graham) has, boxing a guy out, using your hands, using your elbows, just kind of being physical.I think that's a good thing but, then again, you've just got to learn some of the proper techniques.
"It's not pushing off unless they call it. It's just like (defensive backs). The great DB's in this league, the great corners, they all hold. It's just a matter of getting away with it. So, I think the good ones just understand how to do it. Jimmy Graham, if he continues progressing, is going to be a great player in this league," said Brees to WWL's Bobby Hebert.
"He's got some great tangible and intangible traits. So, we've just got to continue to develop him and he is a young player that will continue to blossom."
As for the lack of a dominant team in the NFC this season, Brees told Hebert, "Even though we're sitting here at 4-2 and we can look back and say, 'ah, we should have had that Atlanta game or we should have that Arizona game, the fact of the matter is we're right in the hunt.
"I am excited about the opportunity we have. We're in a situation now with some guys banged up, where we have a lot of young guys playing who have not gotten a lot of playing time and these are guys we're going to need down the stretch.
"So, I think we're becoming even more and more battle tested as we go through the season," said Brees. "If we can find a way to scratch and claw and continue to win games that will serve this team very well moving forward."
Brees says Cleveland is much better than their record and the Browns experience is a concern.
"They're one of the most veteran teams in the league...they have guys who have won championships and know how to win. There's a style of football that the AFC North plays -it's physical and it's tough- especially on the defensive side of the ball. We definitely have our work cut out for us."