Should The Saints Throw Downfield More?
Do the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees need to throw the down the field more this season?
Most people wouldn't hesitate to say yes, as the Saints and Brees have been roundly criticized for throwing too many short passes.
Myself; I disagree and take the opposite opinion. I don't think Brees should throw downfield more.
As a matter of fact, I believe Brees should downfield even less than he does.
Really; I'm serious as a heart attack. Why would you want him to?
Why don't the Saints and Brees run the option?
That's not a trick question, and it has a very obvious answer. Why don't the Saints run the option?
It's because the Saints and Brees probably wouldn't be very successful at it.
So, why throw the ball down the field, which is not a strength of Brees anymore, when he's having so much success in the short passing game?
That makes zero sense to me.
Brees tried to throw the ball deep once on Monday night and was intercepted.
Now, he did throw deep another time, which was successful, but you get my point; he's not capable of consistently throwing the deep ball anymore so why do it, especially when he's having success, and the team is scoring points, with the short passing attack?
Brees is 41-years old. It's unrealistic to think that he can play at the same level, on a consistent basis, the way he did ten years ago, or even five years ago.
I've been saying for three years that he can't throw the deep pass the way he once did, to the likes of Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, and Ted Ginn.
And you know what? That's only to be expected, as he's 41-years old now.
Brees freely admitted that he was mulling retirement after last season. All those years in the NFL takes a lot out of a player, both physically and mentally.
When the Saints played the Buccaneers in Week 1, with Brees and Tom Brady starting behind center for their respective teams, it marked the first time in NFL history that both starting quarterbacks were 40 years of age, or older.
If you're expecting the 35-year old Brees to return, you're probably kidding yourself.
That being said, Brees has had a really good season. Through five games, he's completed 71% of his passes for 1,331 yards and nine touchdowns.
Now, I totally get that statistics can be misleading and that Brees' numbers may be slightly overrated this year, as he hasn't thrown many passes downfield.
Obviously, the more you just dump off the ball, the higher your completion percentage is going to be, but Brees has continued to put up numbers, and the Saints have continued to put up points.
All I heard after the Saints lost to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Playoffs last year was how the Vikings showed the rest of the NFL how to defend the Saints; take away the short pass, because Brees can't consistently through the ball deep.
Well, evidently the Vikings aren't very good teachers, as Brees has passed for 1,171 yards over the last four games, for an average of 292 yards-per-game, while the Saints 119 points over that span, for an average of about 30 points a contest.
Even more impressive, Brees and the Saints have done it without the services of star receiver Michael Thomas, who was injured in Week 1 and hasn't played since.
If there's a blueprint on how to defend the Saints, the NFL better look for another architect. Really, what difference does it make if they score in six passes compared to only two?
This is also an organization that has won 40 games since the beginning of 2017. they know what they're doing, as does Brees.
Do the Saints have to get better? No doubt. They have to become more consistent, and they have to get better, defensively.
The Saints allowed 27 points on Monday night to a team (Chargers) who was starting a rookie quarterback (Justin Herbert), who was without three injured offensive linemen, who were without their best running back (Austin Ekeler), and whose best receiver (Keenan Allen) was limited.
It's the same defense that has allowed 30.0 points-per-game this season, which ranks 26th in the NFL.
If it wasn't for the Saints and Brees, and that short passing attack which people seem to despise so much right now, the Saints wouldn't be tied for first place in the NFC South.
So, the Saints don't need to start running the option, and they don't need to throw the ball downfield more, because that's not what they're good at.
They need to continue to do what they're doing, at least offensively they do, even if it isn't the stylish thing to do.