TRANSCRIPT: Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme
Q: How much does your familiarity with the Saints help you prepare for this game?
A: "It helps somewhat but you've got to realize that there are a lot of (new) guys there. If you look at all the backers, I never played with any of them. James Allen, he was a rookie or a second year guy; up front besides Charles Grant or Darren Howard, those guys are new. At the corners, I don't know a thing about (Mike) McKenzie and Fakhir (Brown) wasn't really playing; I wasn't there with Tebucky (Jones). I do have some familiarity with them but it's not as much as you would think."
Q: Do the Saints disguise things when they play you?
A: "I can't really say I think they do that for me; I think a lot of defenses try and do that. I know from being there and running scout teams against them that they want to try and disguise but I think every defense tries to do that as much as possible. They do a good job of that; they've changed a little bit since we played them four weeks ago, a lot more man to man coverage that you're seeing now."
Q: What differences do you see in the defense?
A: "They were playing a lot more zone in the games leading up to our first meeting, and now they went to more man to man and more one high safety most of the time. They're doing a great job and that can be from a combination of things. McKenzie being there longer may have got more comfortable, and him and Fakhir when they're covering so well on the outside you can do things like that. They're doing a good job of taking away the run; certainly they are playing extremely good football right now and they're excited about it. They can rush the passer; that's one thing I knew going into that game a month ago and it's something I knew coming out of that game, that they can still rush the passer."
Q: Is it an advantage going into this game having had big game experience from last year's playoff run?
A: "It does help; I think guys understand the preparation that it takes. But we've been in playoff mode now for about seven weeks; it's almost been do or die for us since way back when. We've had to prepare and make it as if each game was a playoff game for us so that certainly helps. But I think it does help being in all those big games last year; we feel confident in our abilities to prepare and go out and practice and work the way we work and watch it come to fruition on Sundays. Now we have a lot of new guys compared to last year, I think that's a given."
Q: Do you find it ironic that two years ago these two teams were playing the last week end for a playoff spot?
A: "That's a different situation because two years ago we needed to win one of three to get in so that was more of a frustration level for the fans. Right now whoever wins our game might still not get in. It's a coincidence, but it's not all that much for me."
Q: Did you feel for Aaron Brooks getting booed last time you played?
A: "I don't necessarily agree with that; when you're trying to win and you're playing in front of your home crowd, it seems like you'd have the fans on your side. Coming over here to Carolina the following year and talking to those guys about that game, that got them pumped up when things like that happened. That's the toughest part, I don't like to see anyone booed and much less the quarterback because I was pretty much booed earlier in the season the way I was playing and that's not a good feeling. You're out there preparing and trying your hardest, but that happens and you just have to have thick skin and try to roll with it."
Q: Is this just another game for you?
A: "It's something special because of the opportunity we have; it's not because we're playing the Saints. Last year may have been a little more special, but I'm really not as close to as many guys over there as they used to have with (Jerry) Fontenot and J.T. (O'Sullivan) and guys like that, that I used to talk to. It's just a special game for us as a team; we're just so excited to have an opportunity. From when we were 1-7 and really had one foot out the door, and to fight back the way we have and the different guys that have had to step up. The injuries have been well documented but the way this team has fought and kept it together, that's what is so special. You never know, we might have a opportunity to keep on playing further but that all depends on how we play Sunday."
Q: Has the attitude of the team changed over the last few weeks?
A: "We still don't control our own destiny and that's the thing; had St. Louis got beat on Monday night then I might be telling you something different. We don't know what's going to happen with these other games; we could still possibly win and the Saints could possibly win and neither one of us would get in. Certainly it is a big game, but it's because it's the next one and it could be the last one, that's why it's such a big game. We won't know until 4:15 or so, but we'll know if this game meant anything or not."
Q: Does going against Aaron Brooks mean anything to you?
A: "No, not in the least bit, because I don't play against him. You've seen after every one of our games, we've shook hands, given each other a hug, we've congratulated each other; I don't play against him. I've got other things to worry about like #94 (Charles Grant) and #93 (Darren Howard); those two guys that they have and Jay Bellamy and those other guys, those are my worries."
Q: Did you feel that you learned a lot under Aaron?
A: "I think I try to learn from every single quarterback; that's one thing, if you're not trying to learn I think you're staying stagnant. I learn from Petey (Rodney Peete) and (Chris) Weinke here every day. I just try to pick up something, because in my opinion every quarterback does something better then the other so I try to pick out one thing from every other quarterback."
Q: What did you pick up from Aaron?
A: "The thing about Aaron is that he didn't let things bother him. I know he's been criticized about that a good bit with people saying that it doesn't look like he cares; that's b.s., he cares because (if he didn't) he wouldn't have watched the film, he wouldn't have studied or prepared. Aaron would get affected by something but he would just stay calm in any kind of two minute situation. You can't get all riled up and say we've got to do it on this play right here, you just have to take what the defense gives you and he did that a lot of times. I always tried to say if I ever get in a situation like that to try to keep an even keeled attitude."
Q: What's been the difference in your turnaround?
A: "Making plays. It's been very simple; we started playing better. I started throwing the ball better, we started catching better, we started running better, we started blocking better; we started playing better football. We've had injuries that everyone knows about, but we weren't playing good football. We were in every game but we just weren't playing well; we weren't making plays. I think that's the biggest thing, guys kind of relaxed and stopped pressing and started going out and making plays and it carried over."
Q: Do coaches coach better when you're on a run?
A: "It's amazing how much better a coach becomes; we were 1-7 and now we're 7-8 and it's amazing what a great job John Fox is doing now. Well he's been doing the same thing all year long, and we're just playing a little bit better. Who knows, it might be the trainers, and they're taping ankles better, that might be the case."