A weekly examination of the New Orleans Saints' quarterback play.
Rewind: Drew Brees had an up-and-down performance in the Saints’ 30-27 loss to the New England Patriots. He was frustrated early by how well the Patriots’ defensive backs blanketed his favorite targets. But he rallied with some strong drives in the second half and threw a clutch 34-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kenny Stills late in the fourth quarter that almost turned out to be the game winner (until Tom Brady one-upped him with five seconds left).
Brees completed only 17 of 36 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. It was the first time he failed to complete 20 passes in a game since 2009, snapping his NFL-record streak at 57 straight games.
No fear of copycats: Brees insisted he’s not worried that other teams will try to replicate what the Patriots did by shadowing his favorite target, tight end Jimmy Graham, with their top cornerback Aqib Talib. For one thing, not all teams have players talented enough to do that. For another, Brees said he’s happy to spread the ball around to the rest of his weapons if defenses sell out to stop Graham.
Normally, Brees thrives with that mentality. But he struggled to find those open receivers in the first half at New England before improving in the second half. Brees said the opportunities were there -- he just didn’t execute well enough to take advantage.
Fast-forward: The Saints have a bye this week before returning to host the Buffalo Bills in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Week 8. Brees would love for the extra week to give his injured weapons Graham (foot) and Lance Moore (hand) a chance to heal as quickly as possible.
Prediction: Brees will still have a few more Offensive Player of the Week-worthy performances as this season goes on -- starting with a home date against the Bills in Week 8. An extra week of rest, plus some added motivation from his first loss this season, should serve Brees well.