Throughout the week, cries have been raised that Drew Brees, an iconic face of the Saints since 2006, is currently experiencing his decline before our eyes. At 41, the quarterback begins to hit the inevitable wall of time, but from there to insinuate after two games that his season and that of the Saints is only a lost cause, there is a step not to be avoided. cross.
We have to admit, regardless of the universal respect that is shown to Brees for his entire career, that his start to the season is not convincing.
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The veteran completed 64.7% of his passes. Over a full season, this would be his lowest success rate since 2012.
What does react is that Brees seems reluctant to attack the middle and deep areas. According to ESPN Stats & Info, his passes only travel an average of 4.82 yards in the air. This is his lowest average for that purpose after two games since joining the Saints 14 years ago.
In Monday night's loss to the Raiders, Brees completed just five of his nine passes from 10 yards or more and he missed his only attempt over 20 yards. No less than 60% of his 312 yards went to his receivers after the catch.
NOT HIS STYLE
It is therefore true that the figures, analyzed coldly, are not reassuring. However, Brees bases his attacking style more on his surgical precision and advanced understanding of the game than on his risk-taking.
Already last season, his average per attempted pass was just 6.9 yards, his lowest since his early career with the Chargers.
No one made a big deal out of it because the Saints had a great season. By comparison, the surprise loss to the Raiders in the spotlight on Monday night likely only amplified perceptions.
No, Brees was not aggressive, but it has been several years since this approach has been in his DNA and it has not come under the microscope.
The absence of star receiver Michael Thomas doesn't help either. Thomas is not a vertical threat, but his unique presence forces opposing defenses to devote enormous attention to him, freeing up other lanes.
OFTEN FALSE STARTS
The Saints therefore started the season with a record of one win and one loss. Just two weeks ago, when they triumphed over the Buccaneers, many referred to them as being the most complete team in the NFL. This shows how much a single setback can change the assessment!
Yet over the past three seasons, the Saints have conceded at least one loss each time in their first two games. Even they haven't been 2-0 since 2013.
Brees is not getting any younger and it is normal for amateurs and the media to have the trigger quicker in his case.
No need to bury your head in the sand and pretend that Brees' arm hasn't lost any of its bite. In fact, this trend has been observed since the second half of the 2018 season. Except that Brees has always found a way to compensate for this weakness with his intelligence and the infallible game plans of Sean Payton.
No, the Saints must not rely on Taysom Hill. The latter is an impressive athlete, an intriguing player, but he does not necessarily have the makings of a regular quarterback. As for Jameis Winston, he is the same player who threw 88 interceptions in 72 career games.
The Saints will live or die with Brees, but the thought of shopping for his coffin after such an uninviting football sample in September seems premature.
WEEK 3 PREDICTIONS
- Miami to Jacksonville JAGUARS
- Houston to Pittsburgh (1 p.m. ) STEELERS
- Cincinnati to Philadelphia (1 p.m. ) EAGLES
- San Francisco to NY Giants (1 p.m. ) 49ERS
- Las Vegas in New England (1 p.m. ) PATRIOTS
- Tennessee, Minnesota (1 p.m. ) TITANS
- Washington to Cleveland (1 p.m. ) BROWNS
- LA Rams in Buffalo (1 p.m. ) BILLS
- Chicago to Atlanta (1 p.m. ) FALCONS
- Caroline at LA Chargers (4:05 PM ) CHARGERS
- NY Jets to Indianapolis (4:05 PM) COLTS
- Dallas to Seattle (4:25 p.m. ) SEAHAWKS
- Tampa Bay to Denver (4:25 PM ) BUCCANEERS
- Detroit, Arizona (4:25 p.m.) CARDINALS
- Green Bay in New Orleans (8:20 p.m.) SAINTS
- Kansas City to Baltimore (8:15 p.m.) RAVENS
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS: 14 in 16 (87.5%)
TOTAL THIS SEASON: 25 in 32 (78.1%)
THE CHOICES OF THE JOURNAL
Houston Texans (0-2) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)
THE PRESSURE ON WATSON
So far this season, the Texans have put pressure on their quarterback in 57% of their passing plays. It's a high in the NFL and Deshaun Watson could live even worse against the dreaded Steelers front. Calendar designers feel no love for the Texans with an arduous third straight duel to start the season. In the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger has the leisure to use more and more explosive receivers.
Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) vs Philadelphia Eagles (0-2)
A CHANCE TO Bounce Back
For the Eagles, this is the perfect opportunity to extricate themselves from the hole against a club whose defense is sought. Question of relieving the pressure on a Carson Wentz in regression, it is necessary to revive the game on the ground. The Eagles are indeed 29th in this facet and their carriers have only run 40 times in two games. The Bengals have just blown themselves up by the race against the Browns and concede 185 rushing yards per game. Joe Burrow will keep the Bengals in the game, but the defense will collapse.
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) vs New York Giants (0-2)
TWO ABUSED CLUBS
Injuries are at the heart of this duel. The Giants just lost two of their biggest ammo in Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard. Even with Devonta Freeman, signed in emergency to replace Barkley in the backfield, points will be scarce. Except that the Niners will be deprived of their quarterback, their first two carriers and key players in defense, including Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman. Normally that would be a one hand win. There, it thickens …
Las Vegas Raiders (2-0) vs New England Patriots (1-1)
The Raiders have taken an important step in triumphing over the Saints, who often struggle against serious contenders. They have to repeat it against the Patriots. In his career against them, quarterback Derek Carr did not look bad in his two tries. Bill Belichick will certainly have concocted a game plan to eliminate Carr's short passes. The Raiders' offense could also lack punch. Henry Ruggs will not be playing. Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs are uncertain cases. Patriots by 7
Tennessee Titans (2-0) vs Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
Expect both ground attacks to be featured. There is of course Derrick Henry with the Titans, who carries the ball amply, but whose average per range (3.6 yards) leaves much to be desired this season. The Titans have just conceded 165 rushing yards to the Jaguars. For the Vikings, Dalvin Cook appears to be on a leash with just 26 runs in two games. This time he will have a big role, but King Henry will retain his throne in this duel of carriers.
Team Washington (1-1) vs Cleveland Browns (1-1)
A STRONG TANDEM
Two elements are in favor of the Browns in this duel. On the one hand, they enjoy the best carrying duo in the NFL with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Washington has just been eaten to the ground by the Cardinals. On the other hand, Washington team quarterback Dwayne Haskins is poorly protected and Myles Garrett will turn him around. By establishing their ground game, the Browns will make Baker Mayfield comfortable in dummy handoffs.
Los Angeles Rams (2-0) vs Buffalo Bills (2-0)
DIFFICULT TO SEE CLEAR
These are two clubs that are off to a great start, but have not beaten convincing teams. Bills quarterback Josh Allen plays with a confidence and consistency that he hasn't seen before, but playing against the Dolphins and Jets inevitably leads to an inflation in the statistics. Jalen Ramsey should take Stefon Diggs out of the equation, but Allen has other weapons and the Bills are doing well. It is a barometer duel for the two clubs.
Chicago Bears (2-0) vs Atlanta Falcons (0-2)
THE AWAKENING OF THE FALCONS?
The Falcons experienced an improbable disaster last Sunday and must quickly forget it. Their aerial attack is still formidable, despite the team's failures, but the Bears defend themselves well against the pass. The latter, however, live with the same good old cloud over their heads: which Mitchell Trubisky will appear for them on the attack? The Falcons may not save their season, but last week's shock must be a wake-up call, albeit temporary.
Carolina Panthers (0-2) vs Los Angeles Chargers (1-1)
HERBERT STILL IN POSITION
Following the Chargers' spectacular medical blunder against starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, rookie Justin Herbert will get the start for a second straight game. This is not bad news as Herbert brings a more aggressive mindset. The Panthers have the advantage of being able to analyze his trends from last week via video, which the Chiefs were unable to do. But the Panthers' defense is not equipped to make the youngster look bad.
Chargers by 6
New York Jets (0-2) vs Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
As if the Jets could not go lower, the first two receivers are out of action. This means that Sam Darnold will throw the ball to Braxton Berrios and Josh Malone in particular. If your reflex is to “Goog” these names, that's normal … It's hard not to sympathize with Darnold, who is struggling in an unbearable situation. The Colts' defense gives just 208 yards per game, the best performance in the league in that regard.
Dallas Cowboys (1-1) vs Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
WILSON ON FIRE!
Russell Wilson is giving a true quarterback clinic this season. This is no coincidence, as the Seahawks have finally handed him the keys to attacking without relying on ground play at all costs. For the Cowboys, the best way to leave Wilson out of the field is to attack with Ezekiel Elliott, but for that to happen, the offensive line needs to be healthier. The Seahawks are conceding just 69.5 yards rushing, but they're up against a real good forward. This duel promises to be full-bodied.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) vs Denver Broncos (0-2)
AN OLD DEMON
During his long career, Tom Brady often struggled against the Broncos with a modest 7-6 record in the regular season. It's a different time, however, and the Broncos are deprived of many good elements. At quarterback, they are forced to attack with Jeff Driskel, a quality reservist, but in a difficult role for him. The Bucs defense applies pressure and has become one of the best, if not the best, against the ground game.
Detroit Lions (0-2) vs Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
The Lions have lost a lead of at least 10 points in their last four games. Moreover, last season started with a duel against the Cards they led 24-9 in the fourth quarter, before being brought up and drawing. How will this defense, which has just given 259 yards rushing to the Packers, hold up against the Cards and mobile Kyler Murray? Some claim the Lions haven't had a defense in two games. I would say more like two decades.
Green Bay Packers (2-0) vs New Orleans Saints (1-1)
A REAL TEST
The Packers seem formidable at the start of the season, but only one downside: they orchestrated their fireworks against the Vikings and Lions, two clubs who tear up in defense. The Saints looked bad defensively Monday night against the Raiders, but are capable of much better. On the attack, one should not be surprised by an imposing dose of Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara, to compensate for the absence of receiver Michael Thomas and to control the possession time.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) vs Baltimore Ravens (2-0)
A SUBLIME MONDAY EVENING
Monday night, Chiefs and Ravens. Who says better? Since Lamar Jackson served as the Ravens quarterback, the team have failed to beat the Chiefs on two occasions. The defense is different, however, with important additions like Marcus Peters, Calais Campbell, Patrick Queen and Derek Wolfe, not to mention the emergence of cornerback Marlon Humphrey. They have the assets to limit (without slowing it completely), the attack of the Chiefs. In the playoffs, it would be Mahomes and the Chiefs. Not at the moment…