Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
On a crazy Sunday where the undefeated Green Bay Packers lost and the defeated Indianapolis Colts won the New Orleans Saints held steady and handled their business in Minnesota.
The Saints shook off a sloppy start to have their most complete team win since they beheaded the Colts on a Sunday night in late October. At this point the Colts and Vikings are closer than you might think in terms of quality but other team’s problems aren’t the Saints problem. They went to Minnesota and used as great a Drew Brees game as we’ve seen to put the game out of reach with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Drew Brees has since the debacle in St. Louis put together maybe his best stretch of games. He’s thrown 19 touchdowns, one interception, and thrown for about 2000 yards. The frightening thing is he looks more athletic and mobile in the pocket than I’ve ever seen him. Brees seems to be avoiding sacks and throwing on the move BETTER. I’m not sure if he worked on it in the off season or my eyes are fooling me. I just know he’s slipping out of sacks, and sliding in the pocket and it looks effortless.
Brees’ five touchdown masterpiece isn’t some routine occurrence although as Saints fans we might think it is. If you want to know what a lot of NFL fans live with at quarterback go watch the Cleveland Browns or Arizona Cardinals play.
I joked in my podcast last week Brees might have 300 yards and three scores by halftime because the Viking secondary is so bad. I was wrong because he had 400 yards and five scores in three quarters.
Not to put a damper on the Saints 11-3 season so far but I’m just a little worried about the Drew Brees contract situation. I know the Saints will franchise him and there isn’t any ill will over tough contract negotiations but Brees will be a free agent and it’s a concern.
The NFL just signed a new TV deal and teams will be swimming in money and the salary cap will increase by a huge amount. What’s to stop an owner like Daniel Snyder of the Redskins from looking around and saying, “You know what? I want a quarterback and we’ll figure out everything else later. Drew Brees here is six years 160 million and I’ll guarantee every SINGLE PENNY and I don’t care about the draft picks.” Ralph, that’s insane. No NFL team guarantees entire contracts. A lot of things in life never happen until they do. The Saints would be in a corner someone gave Brees crazy money wouldn’t they? They would probably match any offer Brees got but keeping the team together would be very difficult.
Mickey Loomis hasn’t handled Brees’ contract situation poorly but he hasn’t handled it well and there is a 15% chance it might blow up in the Saints face. It’s an issue for March though and the Saints are looking at a second Lombardi trophy the way they are playing.
The reason a Lombardi trophy seems within reach is because Green Bay suddenly looks banged up and vulnerable and the Saints defense is improving.
The Saints defense the last two weeks has shut down Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. Before you scream the Viking and Titans aren’t any good, I would like to remind you Green Bay got run over by the Chiefs and New England gave up 250 yards rushing to the Tebows. If the Saints can be good against the run and good on third down they’ll get their rematch in Green Bay and be position to win it. The defense even caught an interception so things are definitely looking up.
The offense is just a joy to watch and I’d argue it’s the deepest in the NFL. Green Bay might have better receivers but the Saints have a better tight end and running backs. New England might have better tight ends but the Patriots receivers and running backs aren’t even close to the Saints.
After the Rams mauled Drew Brees the Saints tightened up the offensive line and if you can’t get pressure on Drew Brees I’m not sure there is a game plan capable of stopping them.
Before we start assuming Packers-Saints round two the Saints need to win the next two weeks or they might be traveling early in the playoffs and after last year in Seattle no one wants that.
If Pittsburgh beats San Francisco tonight then next Monday night’s post Christmas game against Atlanta Falcons is the game of the year. The Saints just wrapped up their third straight season of at least 11 wins and it’s the holidays so complaining about anything seems pretty lame. Just enjoy the show because in 20 years you’ll be telling your kids how awesome it was.