As head coach Sean Payton put it bluntly after the game, it didn't matter who was in at quarterback. The way they were beat on the offensive line, it would've been hard for anyone to make plays.
But since Teddy Bridgewater could be the Saints starting quarterback for a while, it’s worth examining how the black and gold will operate differently going forward, even though Payton insists that wasn’t the case on Sunday in Los Angeles.
“Nope,” says Payton. “We didn’t have to change a lot.”
The first Bridgewater drive of the day showed a team that lost its composure with Brees leaving the game, and struggled to get it back. The first factor effecting Bridgewater’s performance was the Saints inability to run the ball. Aaron Donald blowing up an Alvin Kamara run six yards deep into the backfield was the beginning of the end for what had been a decent drive.
Then, on the next two plays, even when it appeared they were able to executed successful second and long calls, penalties pulled them right back. They went from first and 10 at the Rams 34, within Wil Lutz field goal range, to punting on fourth and 28 from their own territory.
“It’s hard to win any game when every positive play you make is ending up coming back,” says left tackle Terron Armstead. “It’s hard to win any game, especially against a good team like the Rams.”
“He’s a pro,” said Payton about Bridgewater. “He knows how to win in this league. I didn’t think we played particularly well around him. I think when we watch that tape tomorrow, it’s not going to be pleasant for some guys.”
The second half, however, was where things truly spiraled for the Saints. In need of a response after a Rams touchdown, Bridgewater suffered back-to-back sacks on a drive that was ultimately a three and out possession. The first was a product of Clay Matthews beating Josh Hill around the edge. The second resulted from a simple four-man rush and Bridgewater’s lack of pocket awareness, which could be attributed to the lack of real game reps.
“Honestly, I think they were just more physical,” says Bridgewater. “We knew that it was going to be a physical battle. We knew that the most physical team would walk away with the win. It showed on the stat sheet, and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Bridgewater insists that he wasn’t nervous and that he feels good with the offense, especially with a year under his belt. But as Terron Armstead put it, “The Saints offense is Drew Brees. He’s been doing this for a long time.”
So they’ll certianly have a bit of adjusting to do going forward.