NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Throughout his 10-plus years in New Orleans, Drew Brees has been both durable and productive. There were signs last fall of a dip in play, arm strength and accuracy were questioned, but today it was evident as Brees could not fire the football with his usual precision.
"Just on a few balls down the field, they just didn't come out very well," Brees said.
The cause of the trouble came early in the second quarter. Brees took a big hit directly on his shoulder and immediate discomfort ensued, as he routinely tried to loosen his arm and shoulder up, but from that moment on, Brees' throws were off, behind players, underthrown and dangerous. He downplayed the pain, but took accountability in his post-game press conference..
"No, just gotta get a little bit stronger that's all," Brees said. "It's a touchdown if I just throw it out there. It's a touchdown if I throw it out there. I underthrew it....no no no it should have been a touchdown."
The Saints never disclose their injuries if not required, and Sean Payton said he didn't change the playcalling because of his quarterback, but dinks and dunks became the norm, as the Black-and-Gold were unable and unwilling to throw it deep.
"I didn't see that, and Pete (Carmichael) mentioned that, and so I don't know not having talked to him about it," Payton said. "You get into a game when things aren't going well, he's very competitive, very tough. I don't know if you watch a play you can tell if you're ahead or behind. You know, and that's a good trait, so he looks at it a lot like I do, hey it's on the next drive, and we move on to the next drive, make some adjustments during the game, and we were able to do that with the running game, but he's a great competitor."
Tight end Ben Watson added, "He was pressured a lot. You never want your quarterback to be under duress. He is the one who runs this offense, so we need to do a better job of protecting him."
Drew Brees was visibly frustrated following this second straight disappointing loss. Clearly he was physically limited on his throws while dealing with that shoulder issue. We'll see how much of an ongoing issue it will become. When asked about his concern level moving forward, he said, 'It's the season. Everybody is dealing with something'.
But clearly No. 9 was not the same player Sunday that Saints players have seen over the past decade.