Following the 2019 season, star quarterback Drew Brees took some time before deciding to return for his 20th campaign. Through the first two weeks of the 2020 season, the New Orleans Saints have played with inconsistency offensively well below what’s expected from them. All that has seen Brees notably struggled that has created some cause concern.
Saints struggle in loss to the Raiders
The Saints headed into Week 2 action against the Las Vegas Raiders hoping to build off their impressive season-opener win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New Orleans look to be in the driver’s seat with a 17-7 lead in the second quarter, but Las Vegas took control behind 24-unanswered points that included a pair of touchdown passes from Derek Carr.
Meanwhile, the Saints offense struggles to respond as the Raiders held possession of the ball for 36 minutes compared to their roughly 24 minutes. It was an uphill battle in the second that they couldn’t overcome. Following the game, it launched concerns over Drew Brees‘ struggles in the passing game.
Drew Brees fires back against growing concern
Throughout the offseason, Drew Brees spent time improving his craft, which focused on strengthening his arm for deep balls. However, it hasn’t exactly translated to success so far in the 2020 season as he’s struggled to produce at an elite level.
He’s completed just 64.7% of his passes while he’s averaged 4.82 air yards on his passes, which is the lowest over that span since Hall of Famer Brett Favre in the 2009 season. With that in mind, Brees fired back after Monday’s 34-24 loss to the Raiders, stating that he doesn’t need to have to most air yards down the field but instead needs to execute the offensive game plan, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
“Well, my job is to execute the offense. … My job’s not to have the most air yards or throw the ball down the field most or anything like that,” Brees said after the game, via ESPN. “I think I’ve always evaluated myself on being a great decision-maker. And so, at the end of the day, I’ll throw the ball to the open guy, move the ball down the field, score points, help us win football games. So that’s my job. My job’s to help us win. My job’s to help put everyone around me in the best position to succeed.”
Regardless of Brees’ comments, it’s quite clear that he isn’t playing at the level that many expected. It also clearly demonstrates how valuable All-Pro wideout Michael Thomas is to the offensive game plan. Thomas is the clear-cut primary offensive factor, which New Orleans looks completely different with him off the field.
Beyond that, Brees’ continued struggles are something that could keep the Saints from competing for the Super Bowl.
Saints hoping to rebound in Week 3 against the Packers
The Saints have come back down to earth a bit after their Week 2 loss to the Raiders.
New Orleans has some obvious concerns offensively with Brees’ arm production. That should see the team make adjustments toward figuring out how best to move the ball down the field without Michael Thomas. It’s been a tough transition without the anchor of their passing game, which places more of the onus on Emmanuel Sanders and Tre-Quan Smith to pick up the slack.
The Saints have a tough challenge ahead in Week 3 at home against the red-hot Green Bay Packers, who have the league’s highest-scoring offense at 42.5 points per contest. The Packers are leading the NFL in total yards while their running game is averaging a league-best 208.5 yards.
It puts tremendous pressure on Brees to guide the Saints forward against an offense humming well beyond Aaron Rodgers’ performance. All that sets up what should be an entertaining Sunday night game.