Thirty-Nine Years Young Is The Living Legend That Remained Unrivaled In The Latest Ridiculous Chapter Of The Saints/Falcons Rivalry
Ridley me this, how does a team overcome their own insistence on continuing to deploy a secondary-dependent scheme whose kryptonite appears to be a blind launch of the football to one particular side of the field? Punitively speaking, how does a team overcome a deprivation of discipline that rendered what little defense they were effective in playing completely defenseless? From a mathematical standpoint, how does a team that's visiting a rival on the road overcome getting punched right in the mouth with a fistful of touchdowns?
The answer, of course, is for said team to employ the person who, as of yesterday, has now completed more passes than any other quarterback in NFL history. Drew Brees is the only reason that a team that looks way more disjointed than the one that everyone expected to show up to start the season is currently sitting at 2-1. The truth is that the Saints could (or even should) just as easily be 0-3 and staring down the line at a fairly daunting schedule. After all - whether it be penalties, turnovers, flawed execution, or all of the above - they have gotten in their own way with a far higher rate of success than they've (legally) gotten in the way of opposing wide receivers that have taken off streaking down their sideline. I say that to say this. There just aren't many players in the history of the sport that have proven capable of navigating so many obstacles put forth by their own organization in leading their team to victory, and one of them just did it for the umpteenth time in his illustrious career.
Drew Brees was obviously aided by the matchup proof presence of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, the occasion spell from the titillating transformer of a toy that is Taysom Hill, and the timely relentlessness of Cam Jordan, but - as it so often does - the difference between a depressing loss and inspiring win wore #9 yesterday.
For as anxiety inducing as it was to see a near 40 year old franchise quarterback scramble his way around two defenders and into the end zone with a shocking spin move that twirled him right out of character, it was just as comforting to see the ball placed in his hands to start overtime. While yesterday proved that the Falcons should really take heed to Steve Gleason's advice to "never punt"...
...it was also advice that the Saints needed to follow if they planned on leaving Atlanta having clipped the wings of their rivals. A game that had more ups and downs than the heart rate of those that were emotionally invested in its outcome was left to be determined by whether or not Drew Brees could orchestrate the ball in the end-zone. That is still, after all these years, the sweetest of spots for the New Orleans Saints.
Look no further than Matt Ryan's stat line and/or the penalty yardage totals for evidence that Sean Payton and Co. have a whole hell of a lot of work to do to get a team that's considered a contender to play smart and focused enough to make good on that promise. The P.J. Williams experiment failed Dennis Allen in about as much time as it takes Calvin Ridley to run the 40 yard dash, Ken Crawley wasn't exactly redeeming in relief, and a solid pass-rush and ruthless run defense was left to suffer in supervision of a complete undressing of whoever happened to line up opposite Marshon Lattimore. The Saints' biggest problem is that they continue to have on-going problems (See: their attempts to defend a bunch formation), and right now nothing is more problematic than starting a corner(s) that couldn't be more gracious as a target if he were drunkenly stumbling down Bourbon Street tossing a $20 to every con-man that fooled him with the "I know where you got your shoes..." scam.
That said, the face of the franchise put on a clinic in reminding everyone - least of all, his teammates - that all else doesn't have to be equal when you have the great equalizer under center. Hopefully the Saints get their shit together sooner rather than later, but I'll be damned if Drew Brees isn't still willing and able to provide them as such margin for error as any single player in the league.