After three spectacular record-breaking seasons in a row, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints cooled off a bit in 2012. The loss of Head Coach Sean Payton for the entire year due to the bounty gate allegations was a huge part of the team’s struggles. 2013 brings optimism from that standpoint with Brees having his offensive guru around for the entire year, but can that alone propel this team back into playoff contention in a tough NFC South division?
It’s not like Brees himself was the reason why the Saints failed to reach the playoffs a year ago. All he did was follow up his 5,476 yards from 2011 with 5,177 in 2012. Unfortunately Brees can’t play defense, and that is where his teammates let him down last season as they allowed the most yards in the history of the NFL (7,042).
The defense has nowhere to go but up in 2013, but Brees will still likely have to outscore opponents to get wins. This bodes well for you if you own him in a fantasy football league of course, but if you are a Saints fan there comes a point where winning games 49 to 45 just isn’t going to cut it.
Perhaps the biggest loss for Brees this offseason was left tackle Jermon Bushrod who signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Bears. That leaves former second round draft pick Charles Brown as the likely starter as his blindside protector with 2013 NFL Draft pick Terron Armstead lurking to make a push for the job as well. No matter who wins the job, it’s unlikely that Brees will receive the same type of protection that he did from Bushrod this coming season.
As one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league today, Brees is going to have to cut down on his turnovers in the coming season. 19 interceptions with five fumbles a year ago is far too many turnovers for a defense this poor to overcome. His accuracy also comes under question for the first time in a while after his completion percentage saw its lowest mark in his seven-year Saint career at just 63.0 percent last season. Whether the throwing windows are getting smaller or not, Brees has to be able to fit the ball into tight areas to move the chains in the coming year.
Having coach Payton back to work on his mechanics should help and the continuity of having a constant set of watchful eyes is always a positive as well. Brees figures to see some outstanding numbers again this season, but whether or not that translates into more wins will be largely out of his hands.