It’s getting old fast. Watching Drew Brees take hit after hit and hurry after hurry that is. The New Orleans Saints worked at improving their offensive line this offseason, by trading for center Max Unger and drafting Andrus Peat, but this “revamped” unit may be worse than it was a year ago.
Through four games, Brees has been sacked seven times and hurried a staggering 29 times. Four of those seven sacks came from right tackle Zach Strief, who looks flat out old and sluggish in 2015. Strief can also be blamed for the Week-2 hit on Brees that injured his shoulder, causing him to play the remainder of the game with a weak throwing arm, which may have costed the Saints a win. Brees missed the next contest — the first time he missed a game due to health. Of course, with Luke McCown, who played well but failed to find the end zone, New Orleans lost. A healthy Brees always throws at least one touchdown.
Brees is not getting any younger, so his protection now is just as important as ever. Teams don’t use their first pick of the draft to ride a rookie on the bench all year.
After a solid minicamp, Andrus Peat struggled during training camp and preseason. Highlighted by conditioning issues, it was not the start New Orleans was hoping for from the potential heir to Zach Strief, but could he really be any worse than what we’ve seen from the offensive co-captain through four weeks?
Strief is well aware that Peat will eventually take his job. Not only will Strief be doing everything he can to make that process take as long as possible, but he said he will also assist in the development of Peat, proving himself as a true team player. But Strief doesn’t seem like he wants that starting job anymore.
At 6-foot-7, 316 pounds, Andrus Peat boasts an enormous frame with long arms, broad shoulders and impressive weight distribution. With surprisingly light feet, well-balanced coordination and that massive physique, he had no problem latching on and controlling speedy outside rushers during his time at Stanford, but the transition into the NFL continues.
The protection for Drew Brees is supposed to be in a better spot than it was a season ago, and so far, not so good. His guardianship is crucial for the team’s success. Zach Strief just isn’t cutting it at the moment. There are also problems elsewhere along the line, but I think it’s time for Sean Payton and company to give rookie Andrus Peat a shot at right tackle.