If it were up to Drew Brees, he would start for the New Orleans Saints in Week 14 despite a gnarly injury that includes multiple fractured ribs on both sides of his chest. Backup QB Taysom Hill won all three games replacing Brees as a starter for the top team in the NFC.
Brees, 41, exited Week 10’s game against San Francisco prematurely with11 fractured ribs, but he responded well to the time off.
“Overall I’m feeling better, have the ability to move better, the flexibility, the strength, all that stuff,” said Brees. “It’s just one step at a time, and I think I’ve got the best team working on it.”
In nine games this season before the injury, Brees tossed 18 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Brees is eligible to come off the IR this week. The Saints are favorites by a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 14.
The Saints initially hoped Brees would be able to suit up for a Week 15 throwdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in a potential Super Bowl 55 preview.
Aside from the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers, the Saints (10-2) are riding the NFL’s second-longest winning streak with eight-straight victories. If the season were to end today, the Saints would earn the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Only the top seed in each conference earns a bye week in this season’s expanded 14-team postseason.
The Mirage Sports Book in Las Vegas lists the Saints as 5/1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
Stud Backups in NOLA
In the last two seasons, the Saints are 8-0 without Brees. That’s a testament to their depth at quarterback, along with Sean Payton’s ability to adapt his playbook to the next man up. Last season it was Teddy Bridgewater. This season, it’s been both Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston as the backups.
The New Orleans Saints are 3-0 this season with Hill under center as a starter. Last season, the Saints went 5-0 with Bridgewater as a starter while Brees was out with a thumb injury before returning a couple of weeks early.
Hill, who spent the last few seasons as Payton’s “Swiss army knife,” proved to be a worthy replacement for Brees despite lackluster numbers. He tossed just two touchdowns and 533 passing yards in three games. As a rusher, he accounted for four touchdowns and 176 yards.
“I don’t care as much as people might think about statistics and all that stuff,” admitted Hill. “At the end of the day, I’m happy we’ve gotten three wins. So that is the statistic I care most about. As far as my overall development, I feel like I’m becoming more and more comfortable operating the offense, and I feel like there are so many ways that I can continue to get better.”
The Saints made waves in the offseason when they offered Hill a $21 million contract extension. So far, the move has paid dividends.
Fans also got to see Hill in action and a glimpse of what the Saints might look like after Brees finally retires. Then again, Hill faced a Denver Broncos team without any quarterbacks, and beat up on the Atlanta Falcons twice.