Drew Brees has to shine to save New Orleans Saints’ season

Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

 

Drew Brees has to shine to save New Orleans Saints’ season. At 0-2 the odds are against them, so are they done down south? Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part one of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.

 

TODD:

This early in the season, it is so hard to tell what is real and what isn’t. We wish to point to scheduling quirks or random luck to explain why a good team is 0-2 or a bad team is 2-0. But we really just don’t know.

Philadelphia is 2-0 but has looked atrocious in large swaths of both contests. Nick Foles looks like the worst quarterback in that division if that’s even remotely possible to believe. He can’t hit a single receiver who isn’t standing next to him in the backfield and subsequently runs 65 yards for a long “completion.”

Likewise, Houston is 2-0 but may have faced two of the worst teams in football to get there (and things don’t get much harder week three against the Giants!).

On the other hand we have the New Orleans Saints.

We both picked New Orleans to win the NFC South prior to the season. Many analysts, including you, liked them to make the Super Bowl as well. This wasn’t outlandish. Their offense was supposed to be elite and their defense much improved with Rob Ryan on the sidelines.

Instead, the Saints are winless and have been taken down by teams who finished with a combined record last year of 8-24.

Now both losses came in the final ticks; the Atlanta loss in overtime. New Orleans has also put up points and yards at a reasonable clip. However, things seem worse than just normal bad luck.

Drew Brees has looked shaky in these road games. He has always been better in the dome in New Orleans, as anyone would, but the early games here are telling. Against the Falcons, he threw just one touchdown as the team decided to run repeatedly in the redzone. Against Cleveland, Brees was mediocre at best. He averaged below 6.0 yards per attempt, just a horrid total for a QB of Brees’ caliber.

Now with the team’s leading rusher, Mark Ingram, sidelined for weeks with an injury, the offense may take another step back.

And don’t even get me started on the defense. It’s been bad enough to make Matt Ryan look like a Hall of Famer and Brian Hoyer look damn near competent without both Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.

I’m not ready to write off the Saints just yet, but the statistics on 0-2 teams making the playoffs are not kind.

 

DAN:

I’m not about to damn the playoff stats of teams starting 0-2 because, quite frankly, there’s a good reason the numbers exist. NFL teams starting with back to back losses rarely make the postseason for two very obvious reasons. Every team in the league had months to prepare for week one. Losing in week one, when you are considered the superior team, often comes down to conditioning and simple mistakes. But following up your week one loss with another speaks volumes to a team’s ability to correct those simple mistakes, and paints a vivid picture of their long term viability.

If the New York Jets had not botched the game tieing touchdown play by calling a fake timeout, then we may be including the Green Bay Packers in this discussion. They would have appeared to be an exception to the 0-2 rule, but as it is, they did not lose in week two and therefore prove my point.

As for the New Orleans Saints, a team I predicted to reach the Super Bowl, they are in a heap of trouble. I will give the K/O jinxing honor to Mike Greenberg, as he has proven himself worthy of such over the years. He too picked the Saints to win the NFC. But what scares me about New Orleans is Drew Brees.

Drew Brees may be nearing the end of his tenure as a top tier quarterback. It is going to happen, we just don’t know when. The same could be said of Tom Brady this season, yet New England has a stellar defense. With New Orleans trotting out an average defensive squad, Drew Brees is going to have to do a lot to help his team win. I don’t think he can any longer.

Instead of writing off the wins by Atlanta and Cleveland, I’ll instead give them credit. The Falcons are a good team, improving quickly from the debacle of last season. This isn’t a huge surprise. What is surprising is how strong Cleveland has looked, playing short handed at wide receiver and running back. I dubbed them as a good team, not bottom feeding, but never did I peg them to beat the likes of New Orleans. This, again, is a Saints problem.

I believe New Orleans fixes its offensive issues, but a weak defense will doom them. Making Matt Ryan look amazing is one thing, but allowing Brian Hoyer to shine is inexcusable. He is a fine player, but with few weapons to rely on, he should not be beating your team. The NFC South is a quagmire, since both Tampa Bay and New Orleans are 0-2. Both teams showed off season promise, but it appears the downfall of the Carolina Panthers was premature. They are a legit 2-0 in that division.

[Part two – Panthers downfall was very premature]