The defending Super Bowl champs opened the 2009 season displaying dominance. In 2010, the Saints have been sluggish.
Even though quarterback Drew Brees said last week that the Saints could be undefeated, the truth is that they also could be winless. Instead, they’re 3-2 and down a tiebreaker to the 4-1 Falcons, who stole a game from the Saints earlier this year.
Asked on Wednesday whether Brees’ performance to date is the result of injury or stress regarding the impending birth of his second child, Brees was concise: “Everything’s good.”
Brees also compared 2010 to 2007, when the Saints were coming off a season that resulted in the team’s first-ever birth in the NFC title game.
“Expectations were obviously very high going into that ’07 season, just like now, but we got into a situation there where things didn’t start happening for us and we started to press and put way too much pressure on ourselves,” Brees said in comments distributed by the team. “I think we recognized that and acknowledged that’s what happened back in ’07. We’re not going to allow that to happen now. Obviously there is a sense of urgency now because we are not at all satisfied with the way we played offensively, especially here the first five weeks. We are a lot better than what we’ve shown and we will continue to make improvements and I’m very confident we’ll get right back on track very soon.”
Brees didn’t dismiss the notion that the offensive woes result from a lack of balance, due to injuries to running back Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. “[T]here’s a lot to be said for that,” Brees said. “It does a lot of things. Like I said, it sets up opportunities in the passing game. Number two, it shortens the game and keeps you on the field longer, it keeps your defense off the field longer. There’s a mindset that goes with rushing the football where we pound these guys and are pounding them, I think there’s something kind of demoralizing to a defense when you’re pounding and pounding. All of a sudden the fourth quarter rolls around and that’s when you can see the run game play dividends, when you finish a game and keep your defense off the field, prolong drives and it results in more points, all those things.”
The next opportunity to find balance comes on Sunday against the 3-1 Buccaneers. But with Baby Brees possibly arriving at any moment, there’s an outside chance that Papa Brees may have to bail out on a moment’s notice as kickoff approaches.