Jeff Duncan: Saints are built to survive Brees’ absence

Jeff Duncan: Saints are built to survive Brees’ absence
Alvin Kamara stands by as Sean Payton surveys his playsheet during a Saints home game (Source: Pool Photo)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The news of Drew Brees rib injury darkened the mood of the Crescent City on Monday.

Instead of celebrating the Saints' sixth consecutive win, most fans were lamenting the loss of their star quarterback.

Jeff Duncan: Saints are built to survive Brees’ absence

We don’t know how long Brees will be sidelined by the rib injuries he suffered the past two weeks. Recoveries vary from patient to patient, but it’s clear the Saints are going to be without their fearless leader for multiple games.

There was a time when an injury to Brees would have devastated the Saints. But these days, the club is much better equipped to handle his loss. They are a much more complete team than the ones Brees quarterbacked early in his tenure.

Gone are the days when the Saints needed to outscore teams in high-flying shootouts to win. They can now beat you in myriad ways.

The Saints gained just 243 yards against the 49ers on Sunday and still won comfortably thanks to a dominant effort by the defense and special teams.

It was the first time in the Payton-Brees era that they won a game in which they gained fewer than 250 yards.

And there’s a trend worth noting here.

Since Payton and Brees came aboard in 2006, the Saints have gained fewer than 280 yards in a game 19 times. They went 1-9 in those games during the first dozen years with Brees at quarterback. In the past three seasons, they’ve gone 7-2, including 2-0 this year.

What that tells is you the Saints no longer need Brees to carry them. But they do still need him to lead them.

While their defense, special teams and running game are fully capable of dominating opponents, Brees -- even at 41, -- still gives them the best chance to win big games and make a deep playoff run. So his healthy return will be crucial to the Saints' Super Bowl chances. And knowing him, I have no doubt that he’ll be back in time to make this a December to remember for the Saints.

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