Drew Brees is only getting older. Defensive pass rushers are only getting bigger and faster. And the league is only setting harsher rules regarding concussions. The odds increase every year that Brees will need to miss games.
If Brees were seriously injured and missed an entire season, that season would be written off. I’m more concerned about what happens if he needs to miss a few games. Five games, six games … eight games. Do the Saints have a quarterback who can hold down the fort for 6 games?
The Saints have not had a proper backup quarterback for years. In 2002 Jake Delhomme was the Saints backup, and he was probably better than the starter (Aaron Brooks). But since then, they’ve had Todd Bouman, Jamie Martin, Mark Brunell (way past his prime), and Chase Daniel as backups. None of those guys would I have wanted to pilot the team for 6 games.
So what about 2011? Chase Daniel is still the backup QB on the roster, and maybe he’s becoming a player who can come in and win a game. But can he win 4 out of 5 games? Would he be able to engineer a game-winning drive against the Falcons in the 4th quarter? I don’t know.
What can the Saints do about this? The draft came and went, so there’s no help there. Free agency may or may not happen in the usual fashion, so who knows if they can add a free-agent veteran QB. Maybe Chase Daniel will be great. Or maybe Sean Canfield breaks out of the practice squad and becomes a factor.
The main thing the Saints can do is protect Drew Brees. The Saints need to stress QB protection during training camp (whenever that happens) to the offensive lineman, the tight ends, and the running backs. If you’re a running back who can’t recognize a blitz, or doesn’t know who to block when the rush comes, then you don’t play. If you’re a tight end who doesn’t chip block a defensive end on the way out, you don’t play.
Saints fans (I assume Saints coaches too) start to sweat at the thought of Brees getting hurt. This is the last year the Saints can get away with having a questionable backup. Next year they need to have a solid prospect, a guy who can replace Brees in a few years, a guy who can win games in bunches.