The New Orleans Saints came into the 2019 NFL season with revenge on the brain, expecting to be led to the postseason by quarterback Drew Brees. But Brees’ hand injury has knocked him out of competition, leading to the Saints’ decision to keep a top-tier backup quarterback to pay off. Now that the team is under the leadership of Teddy Bridgewater, the question is whether or not the Saints can continue rolling without Brees at the helm.
Going into the season, the Saints were expected to breeze into the playoffs thanks to the help of Brees. Odds to reach the NFL Playoffs had the team at roughly -300 odds to get back to the postseason, and the team showed the resilience that playoff teams need to have when Brees led them to a comeback win in the first game of the season against the Houston Texans. But a clash of hands between Brees and Aaron Donald in week two against the Los Angeles Rams has put Bridgewater in the spotlight.
So far, the need to call upon Bridgewater has not harmed the Saints in the least. The team got a massive road win in Seattle in week three, with Bridgewater’s efficiency earning praise from those around the league following the surprising result. That efficiency was caused partially by a change in offensive philosophy, with the Saints emphasizing shorter and higher percentage throws to keep the offense in rhythm.
While Brees is sidelined due to injury, the Saints may have to think bigger as their time with Bridgewater under center continues. Eventually, defenses will start to play tighter defense against wide receivers, which will force Bridgewater to work the ball down the field to keep them honest. But for now, the Saints find themselves in a great position to get back to the postseason with their star quarterback set to return at some point to make the job easier.
This season, of course, is a significant one for the New Orleans Saints, especially due to the way that the 2018 season ended. The Saints were left to feel like they deserved a place in the Super Bowl, which was taken from them, and many feel that this year is an opportunity to prove as much by storming through the NFC.
While Brees’ hand issues may make that task more difficult, the way that the Saints’ defense has stepped up in his absence is encouraging. Holding star quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in check, given that the Saints could see them in the postseason, shows the Saints aren’t a one-man show. And whether Brees or Bridgewater are under center later in the season, the Saints are clearly on the shortlist of contenders to win the NFC this year. The question now is whether they can keep the momentum going to give themselves a chance to exorcise their demons.