Bradley Handwerger / Sports Writer
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METAIRIE, La. ― Drew Brees spent five seasons in San Diego where, by all accounts, he was a decent quarterback.

But he wasn't great, never throwing for more than 3,576 yards or more than 27 touchdowns.

Then he came to New Orleans, a wounded former Pro Bowler with a future much in doubt.

And first-year coach Sean Payton believed in him.

And that's all Brees needed.

'Having Sean Payton has been everything for me, having the opportunity here to be with him, to be coached by him and mentored by him,' Brees said Thursday. 'I think he brought out a confidence in me that I didn't have before. I've always been a really confident guy, but I think there were certain things that might not have ever come out unless I was with him.'

Since 2006, Brees hasn't thrown for fewer than 4,388 yards, even coming 16 yards short in 2008 of breaking Dan Marino's NFL record for passing yards in a season.

He hasn't thrown fewer than 33 touchdowns since throwing for 26 and 28 in '06 and '07 and this season is on pace for 42 touchdown passes.

'Each and every year I feel like I've gotten a little bit better and that's always been my goal, was just to get a little bit better,' Brees said. 'And statistics don't always show that. But in my heart, I know that that's true and he's a huge part of that.'

That Payton and his Saints teammates believed in him is something he said he didn't feel in San Diego, even in his final two seasons with the Chargers when they were having success.

'We had experienced success in San Diego in my last two years there but I just never got the feeling that everybody there was all in with me,' Brees said. 'It was nice to have (and) walk into an organization where I just got the feeling like everybody believed in me.

'Sometimes that's all you need. All you need is somebody to believe in you and then obviously, my mindset was I'm not going to let these guys down. They have a lot invested in me so I want to prove them right.'

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