Time is now for Drew Brees to play his best for the surging Saints
He’s quietly having a terrific season for the top offense in the National Football League.
In the coming weeks, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will have to do more.
That’s correct, more.
For much of this season, the Saints have played complementary football extremely well. With a surrounding cast able to run the football and play sound defense, Brees has thrown only five interceptions and suffered 10 sacks.
Overall, 82 of Drew Brees’ 244 completions have gone to running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.
When Brees needs a completion for a first down, it is often underneath to a big target. Wide receiver Michael Thomas has 43 of the Saints’ 131 first down receptions.
The Saints were so dominant at Buffalo that they scored 47 points with no touchdown passes from Brees.
But that will likely have to change.
Not only does the schedule in the last six games ramp up, but the injuries already have.
Sunday at Los Angeles, the Saints will face the Rams without injured starting cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley.
Lattimore, the Saints first pick in the 2017 draft, is one of the leading candidates for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He has 31 solo tackles, two interceptions and a team high nine passes defensed.
Crawley has an interception and eight passes defensed.
New Orleans also lost defensive end Alex Okafor for the season last week with a torn Achilles tendon.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who has made a big leap forward in his second season, will pose a stiff test for a short-handed secondary. This season, Goff has nine completions of 40 yards or more.
The Saints did receive some good news on the injury front. Safety Kenny Vaccaro will return after missing two games with a groin injury.
In the coming weeks, the Saints will face Carolina’s Cam Newton and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. The latter will face New Orleans twice.
During their eight-game winning streak, the Saints have evoked many comparisons to the 2009 team.
That year, the Saints were not only talented, but every star aligned to get them to the Super Bowl.
In the second half of that regular season, Brees’ completion percentage was a sizzling 73.1 percent. He has been on a similar tear the last four games.
Brees has completed 92 of 125 passes (73.6 percent) with four touchdown passes and an interception.
Despite the improved defense and stellar running game, the numbers say the Saints are still franchise quarterback dependent.
Brees’ completion percentage in Saints victories is 73.4 percent, compared to 65.9 in the club’s two losses.
As good as the Saints have been in the last eight weeks, the meat of the schedule has arrived.
Can the Saints continue to win, without some of the core of a much improved defense?
If so, it will likely be because their franchise quarterback steps up once again.
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…