After a Pierre Thomas run in the fourth quarter put the Saints in position to march in for a touchdown that would virtually have assured a victory, Brees started passing and was stymied by a Packers defense that just might have been expecting Brees to put the ball in the air. Why don't the Saints run the ball two or three or four times in a row when they have done it successfully and have the momentum? A touchdown in the fourth quarter would have put the Saints up 31-21 and would have put undue pressure on the Packers. However, leading 24-21, they settled for a field goal which was quickly trumped by a Packers touchdown and eventual victory.
For the record, the Saints passed 54 times and ran it 19 times. With running backs like Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles active for the game, the question arises WHY DON'T WE RUN THE BALL MORE? The mix between runs and passes normally is determined by the offensive coordinator, but the mix of plays in four straight losses brings up the question: Who is calling the plays? Is it Pete Carmichael Jr. who is the coordinator in name, or is it Drew Brees, who is the play caller in fact? My suspicion is that Brees wants to do it all and is calling pass when a run would be the more appropriate call. Whoever is making the decisions, the Saints in four losses have passed the ball 191 times and run it only 75. That is a 72% pass ratio.
To see whether this is good football or not, let us ask ourselves WWSD: "What Would Sean Do?" Last season, when the Saints offense was dominating, they passed the ball 61% of the time and ran it the other 39%. In their Super Bowl championship year, they passed it 54% of the time and ran it 46%. The previous two Super Bowl champions have similar stats. The Giants last year passed 59% and ran it 41%. The Packers the year before passed it 56% and ran 44%.
This observation came to me naturally, but was confirmed by no less an authority than Bobby Hebert, who is the second most successful quarterback in Saints history. Now a radio talk show guy, Hebert told his post-game audience that Brees should take a step back, assess the weapons at hand and not try to do it all himself. They have running backs they should use, Bobby said. And I agree.
Now far be it from me to criticize the highest paid player in NFL history, but along with that pay grade comes the expectation of winning games. The highest paid player in NFL history should not be presiding over an 0-4 team. My suspicion is that Brees is calling pass when a run probably would achieve more effectiveness because that is his professional confidence and pride coming out. That is what makes him the great quarterback he is, but it is also why he needs a strong coach behind him to temper his bravado and occasional recklessness. I would bet that Sean Payton would not allow such a pass-run discrepancy to cost his team a game.
But what the hell do I know? I am only an undefeated pundit watching over a team that seems to lose games they don't need to lose.
Jim Miller's new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com
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