November 18, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant (90) tackles New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) after releasing the ball during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The New Orleans Saints defeated the Oakland Raiders 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
We all know about the issues the Saints have on defense. But can the Saints still be potent on offense? True, the offense does not have to worry about a new coordinator, a different philosophy for the third time in three years, and having to re-evaluate each position on that side of the ball. No one worries about the Saints offense. It’s even considered appalling that Jimmy Graham didn’t top over 1000 yards receiving or double digit touchdown catches. But the Saints cannot keep relying on their offense to win games.
The Saints have plenty of weapons. Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Graham, Darren Sproles, and Pierre Thomas are the most consistent threats at their positions. Besides Graham, they are all approaching a pivotal age though. Each of these guys are anywhere from 28 to 30, after which receivers and running backs start to slow down. It isn’t all about age either. All of these guys have been out for some point or another due to injury, and that is not to mention playing through injuries that aren’t reported. Joe Morgan, Mark Ingram, Travaris Cadet, and a bevy of young receiving talent are show promise for the Saints. But until we know for sure that these guys can step into some seriously big shoes, we have a potential ticking time bomb on offense. At any moment these guys could start to show some age. And that is not good for the one guy on the Saints offense that is irreplaceable.
Drew Brees threw for more yards, 5,177, and touchdowns, 43, than anyone this year. He was also in the top 10 in quarterback rating, completion percentage, yards per attempt, longest, etc. He is undoubtedly in the top when it comes to quarterbacking a team to victory. This is his biggest flaw, however. He always is the guy that takes the team on his back and tries to win games. That only works if you have a serviceable defense and an offensive line that doesn’t give you 26 sacks in a year. That leads to interceptions, of which he tied with Tony Romo with 19 this year. Drew Brees is getting older and with that eventually comes physical limitations. He has showed no signs of slowing down but you can’t believe that he will be able to hold it together forever. Even Peyton Manning has started to show signs of slowing down. All the greats do. It may not be much, a wobbly long pass or one that is thrown short. Then it will be passes that sail off the mark, aren’t accurate, or aren’t what we are used to seeing. If you ever saw Mark Brunell in his prime and then saw him play as a Saint, you see what happens to great quarterbacks who have lost it. Of course, he could also go down at any time, it happens frequently in the NFL.
By no means are the Saints projected to lose their spark. I am sure they still have the most dangerous offense for at least another year or two with the current starters. But, these guys are going to be approaching a point where they can’t grind out that extra yard, or run quite as fast, or push past defenders that are getting younger and younger. Injuries, age, whatever you want to blame it on, players slow down. While Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have been geniuses in the later rounds of the draft, or even with undrafted free agents, at some point it won’t be enough. In the Not For Long League, the only thing we can count on is that teams, offenses, fail at some point or another. The only question is, will we be prepared on defense when that happens?