Drew Brees’ Supporting Cast
The main excitement going into this game for the Saints was the long-awaited returns of receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and both made their presence felt.
The duo combined for nine receptions and 89 yards, and that’s with the Saints having a commanding lead and having a very diverse passing attack. With Tampa Bay’s secondary being the strength of their team, Payton attacked the team’s linebackers, which is why the tight ends and running backs combined for 95 receiving yards.
This is what can make the Saints offense so dangerous. With playmakers at wide receiver, running back, and tight end, they have the well-rounded offense needed to consistently exploit a defense’s weakness.
This week, it was young linebacker, Devin White. In the future, such as against the Falcons or Vikings, it’ll be Thomas and Sanders against lesser secondaries.
What was concerning, however, was the performance of the offensive line.
The interior offensive line was a notable weakness in this game, particularly Erik McCoy and Cesar Ruiz. Ruiz’s rookie struggles continue to be a pressing issue, and at this point, you have to wonder if the team will pivot to veteran Nick Easton at the right guard position.
Although Tampa Bay only sacked Brees once, that speaks more to an offensive game plan and Brees performing under pressure than anything else. There was noticeably a lot of early pressure placed on Brees, particularly from edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, and that is not ideal.
After all, interior pressure has doomed New Orleans over the past few seasons, which was a huge reason why the team selected Ruiz. Since performance under pressure is unstable and Brees’ height makes him particularly susceptible to interior pressure, we will need to hope the offensive line can get back on track.