A day after the New Orleans Saints suffered a disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the team was dealt a significant blow with star quarterback Drew Brees being declared out for the next six weeks due to thumb surgery. This has put the Saints in a tough spot of having to navigate the next month and a half with backup Teddy Bridgewater at the helm.
Drew Brees’ impact on the Saints
In the 12-plus years that Brees has spent with the Saints, he has been the cornerstone of the franchise. His play has been highly indicative of the Saints’ overall success, which has included several playoff appearances along with the franchise’s first Super Bowl win.
Despite being on the tail end of his career, Brees still has a tremendous impact on New Orleans given the stability that he provides as the focal point of the offense. The 40-year-old may not possess the same arm strength that he once had, but he has been able to continue to operate efficiently with the game plan under Sean Payton.
Brees’ absence from the field was quite evident in Sunday’s loss to the Rams as they struggled to move the ball down the field, orchestrating just two scoring drives that resulted in a pair of field goals. At this point in his Hall of Fame career, Brees still has plenty in the tank to be a highly dependable player that the Saints will miss.
Teddy Bridgewater’s time to shine with Saints
The Saints are set to head into a tough portion of their schedule in Brees’ absence with tough matchups against the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, and Chicago Bears. During this time, New Orleans will rely on Bridgewater as the starter to lead the charge.
Bridgewater is coming off his first year as the backup behind Brees, in which he elected to return in free agency despite the Miami Dolphins offering him the starting job. He now steps into a prime opportunity to showcase what he can bring to the table.
The 26-year-old put up pedestrian numbers in relief of Brees completing 17-of-30 passes for 165 yards, but he is a former Pro Bowl that was once the future at his position for the Vikings before a devastating knee injury changed those plans. This has the potential to be the scenario that gets him back on the map as a viable starting quarterback.
Saints’ game plan without Drew Brees
New Orleans is set to roll with Bridgewater under center, which will see an adjustment in the offensive game plan. There will be a greater reliance on their running game behind their two-headed attack of Pro Bowler Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray.
Through his first two-plus seasons in the league, Kamara has been a dynamic playmaker as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. This will indubitably see a significant increase in the latter role. The Saints have also emphasized that they will not overload Kamara by utilizing Murray in a supplementary role.
There could also be an increased spot for Tayson Hill in unique packages while he could also be involved in goal-line situations. The Saints will likely lean more heavily on star wide receiver Michael Thomas in the passing game as their clear-cut go-to option. Thomas is off to a strong start with 20 catches for 212 receiving yards in the first two games.
Beyond that, how much of the playbook The Saints’ playbook that Payton opens up to Bridgewater will be quite indicative of how the next six weeks will unfold for New Orleans.