Drew Brees' Messy Contract Situation Makes Saints a Non-Playoff Team
According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN:
If Drew Brees does not have a long-term contract in place by Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline, the New Orleans Saints quarterback has no plans to sign his franchise tender and report to training camp, according to league and team sources.
Obviously a major letdown for Saints fans, but arguably even more so for the organization. From the aftermath of bounty-gate to this, New Orleans might as well revert the team back to being known as the "Aints."
From the team's inception in 1967 through 1986, the Saints failed to have a winning season and only twice did New Orleans manage to finish with a .500 record. There was then brief success from 1987-1992, but it wasn't until Drew Brees came along in 2006 when the Saints began to win consistently.
Looking ahead to a potential Brees-less 2012 season, let's check out the foregone conclusion of why New Orleans will miss the postseason.
Atlanta gave the Saints a challenge in the Georgia Dome, but New Orleans blasted the Falcons in Louisiana 45-16. This season, the Falcons upgraded the defense with Asante Samuel and rookie pass-rusher Jonathan Massaquoi. Tampa Bay improved with Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and rookie Doug Martin on offense while getting impressive talent on defense as well.
Carolina fielded a top-10 offense last season and Cam Newton threw for over 4,000 yards. Provided that the Panthers' defense even remotely improves, the Cats will be vying for a postseason berth in 2012.
As for New Orleans, even with Brees the NFC South will be a rough test each game. Without Brees, however, and the Saints will be fortunate to win one divisional game, as each team is more complete on either side of the ball.
Who wins the NFC South in 2012?
Although New Orleans went 13-3 in 2011, the Saints' defense ranked No. 30 against the pass and allowed an average of 368.4 total yards per game (ranked No. 24).
So, had it not been for Brees, the Saints would not have been able to outscore most opponents en route to winning the division. The lack of defense is what also makes bounty-gate rather confusing. Because instead of bounties, slowing opponents down is more important, as we saw in the NFC Divisional game at San Francisco.
In 2012, it's reasonable to suspect the Saints being even worse on defense because of the player suspensions and Tracy Porter being in Denver. Obviously with Brees, the Saints' defense would have more opportunities to force turnovers because each game would be so high-scoring.
Take him out of the equation, though, and the New Orleans defense is just that much more susceptible to allowing tons of yards and points.
Two coaches (Sean Payton and Joe Vitt) also had suspensions upheld along with the defensive players, according to Ryan Jones of the Times-Picayune, which will only make life tougher for the Saints to recover.
Brees is good enough to run the offense by himself, but he actually has to be present. And with his potential holdout, the Saints have to rely on Chase Daniel, Luke McCown and Sean Canfield to step up.
Daniel has only attempted eight passes in the regular season, and Canfield has yet to take a snap from under center. McCown is the seasoned veteran; however, he has yet to appear in more than five games during a season.
Last year, McCown appeared in four for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he threw four picks and zero touchdowns in the first two games. Quickly replaced by Blaine Gabbert, McCown played in just two games thereafter.
There's no proven talent in New Orleans at quarterback other than Brees. Remove him from the position along with everything else that has unfolded, and the Saints will be lucky to win four games in 2012.
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