So, what is the final verdict? Is Payton changing his offensive system?
This may be a boring answer, but I don’t think this can be answered by a simple “yes” or “no”. At 41-years-old, Brees is unlikely to be able to carry the load, and the idea of “load management” has been brought up with him in the past.
However, it’s incredibly unlikely that they’ll be able to rely on the short passing game and rushing attack to keep up with high-flying offenses and better rush defenses, and when that’s the case, I expect Payton to respond with a greater emphasis through the air.
Balance is imperative for any offense, but it is very important that Payton doesn’t take too much away from the team’s success through the ground.
Relying on a rushing offense, given its volatility, is an extremely risky approach without much reward. Plus, the idea of potentially putting Brees in third and long situations, given his limitations, doesn’t feel like a sound idea.
Although running the ball would appear to be a way to protect Brees, scheming up a productive early-down passing attack could be the key for them building an offense that can take them to where they want to go, and that’s a Super Bowl championship.
Payton likely knows this, and with Brees playing better and Thomas likely to play, his play-calling will be a key storyline to watch when they host the Chargers on Monday night.