Take what happened Sunday in the Saints’ 40-33 victory against the Houston Texans. On the game-winning, 93-yard touchdown drive, the Saints went with an empty backfield most of the way. In those situations, Drew Brees was four of seven for 67 yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Sproles was usually on the field, lining up as a receiver, but the Saints used a lot of empty-backfield sets all day.
Throughout the rest of the game, Brees was nine of 13 for 112 yards and two touchdowns out of the empty formation.
Brees also was particularly effective when the Texans had five or more defensive backs on the field. Houston came into the game without allowing a touchdown in those situations and opposing offenses were averaging 4.7 yards per attempt. But that trend stopped Sunday.
When Houston had five or more defensive backs on the field, Brees completed 21 of 29 passes. Brees averaged 9.4 yards per attempt and threw for three touchdowns, including two in the final 10 minutes. His NFL passer rating in those situations was 136.3.