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Drew Brees' record-setting season not good enough

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is coming off a 2011 season where he set many NFL single-season passing records, including for completions (468), yards (5,476), and his own completion percentage record (71.6 percent).

Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune reports that Brees wants to play better in 2012 and his own statistics have nothing to do with.

"Statistics don't always tell the story, though," Brees said. "We can do better in so many different ways. In a lot of cases it is just subtle things.

"It's a subtle thing here and there that might get you one extra first down, or allow you to convert maybe one more time in a short-yard situation or in the red zone. Or give you one more big-play opportunity per game that could change a game, or win you one or two more games. As we know, if you can do something that wins you one more game, you have home-field advantage instead of having to travel for the divisional round."

Brees comments illustrate why New Orleans is well-positioned despite the Saints' "bounty" scandal suspensions that might have devastated another team.

Losing Sean Payton for the season hurts, as does Will Smith and Joe Vitt's multi-game suspensions, but as long as the Saints have Brees, they're in good shape from a leadership perspective. That fact makes the delay in signing him to a five-year, $100 million contract this offseason even more puzzling.

"Here is the thing -- something I have always been humbled by and take as a big responsibility with is the fact that I do get asked my opinion a lot, in regard to the schedule or big decisions, and I appreciate that," Brees said. "Even if it's just to get my input, my take, or in a lot of cases Sean Payton would call me aside and say, 'What's the pulse of this team right now? How are guys feeling?'

"It might be as we are going out for a fourth, hardcore, padded training camp practice, and I might say 'Hey coach, it's about that time that (we lighten it up).' So then next practice we come out in shells and throw the guys a bone. Little things like that, that I have been included in along the way, and I appreciate that. I obviously try to give the best input that I can."

Follow Brian McIntyre on Twitter _@brianmcintyre_.

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