It’s no secret that the NFC South is a who’s-who of the worst the NFL currently has to offer. We’ve had numerous names for it on our podcast, and the fact that “NFC Bumble&%£!s” is the nicest thing we’ve had to say about it should tell you all. But this should come as a surprise to anyone who’s paid attention to football in the last 6 or 7 years. Why? Since 2009, the New Orleans Saints, led by coach Sean Payton and Quarterback Drew Brees, have been one of the dominant teams in the NFC, and Brees himself has been one of the most accurate quarterbacks of the current era. There’s a reason he was asked to a commercial in which he threw footballs at nappies, and not one of the other endorsement-happy quarterbacks. Since joining New Orleans, Brees has only dipped below 65% completion percentage twice, with a 316-141 TD-INT ratio.
In 2009, the Saints stunned everyone by winning Super Bowl XLIV in a thrilling game against the Indianapolis Colts. They’d been dominant all year, winning 13 straight games, with their 3 losses coming in the last games of the season (one of which Brees did not take the field for). In the 5 seasons after, the Saints have had a 49-31 record. There’s not many who can boast that level of success. This year, however, the Saints have yet to record a win, Drew Brees won’t play week 3, and has thrown only 2 touchdowns paired with 2 interceptions. It’s easy to blame the Saints’ woes on the offseason trades, with Jimmy Graham and Max Unger going to Seattle, Kenny Stills going to Miami and Ben Grubbs heading to Kansas. But the beginning of the end started sooner than that. Last year, the Saints looked woeful and scraped by to 7-9 in a division that looked worse. This year, Brees doesn’t look like he can move the ball effectively.
Drew Brees is old. He turned 36 at the start of the year, and unlike Tom Brady who seems to just get better with every year that goes by, it seems he has reached the peak of what he can achieve. And New Orleans will find themselves with a very early pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. So, what’s a team to do?
Life After Drew Brees
The biggest complication is the remaining year on Brees’ contract. In 2016, he will be due $19.75M, a sizeable sum, with a cap hit worth $27.4M. However, there are a few quarterback starved teams that might be very happy to swallow that sum, and hope to get a few more years out of him in a refreshed system. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he could be traded. Now is the time to act for the Saints’ top brass – 2016 looks like it could be a good year for signal callers, and if they miss out now they will most certainly come to regret it. It’s not all doom-and-gloom for The Big Easy, though. From J T Barret to Cardale Jones, Connor Cook to Cody Kessler, there is a slew of talent ready to flood into the league that should really put this year’s top 2 QB’s Winston and Mariota into shameful context. They can miss out on half of them and still get a great guy.
Football rewards the brave, and punishes the meek. Green Bay cut ties with Brett Favre, giving the offence over to Aaron Rodgers. The result being a team that has continued to dominate the NFC. The New England Patriots gave Brady the keys after Drew Bledsoe got injured in 2001, and never looked back. Meanwhile, franchises like Washington, New York Jets, Cleveland and Buffalo who refuse to answer their QB issues definitively, taking “safe” answers, mmm-ing and aah-ing and being indecisive continue to suffer.
The writing is on the wall, and the Saints’ need to act soon. They can get away with not making a call during the season, but when 2016 rolls around they will need to make a definitive call one way or the other. And I, for one, believe it’s time for a changing of the guard.