Brian Allee-Walsh

Drew Brees’ return is Saints’ elephant in the room, but Teddy shows he’s a No. 1 too

Who saw this coming from the Drew Brees-less New Orleans Saints? Not your faithful New Orleans-based correspondent that’s for sure. Maybe 3-2 but not 5-0 and heavily favored to win a sixth consecutive game under a quarterback still-to-be-named.

Lead vocalist Stephen A. Smith of ESPN certainly didn’t, calling the Black and Gold “done ... period’‘ after they lost Brees to a thumb injury in Week 2 that required surgery and necessitated backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to replace a living legend on a temporary basis.

Saints officials reminded Smith of his doomsday prediction on their team Twitter account Sunday night, hours after the team’s brutal smack down of the Chicago Bears 36-25 at Soldier Field. A Bears team, mind you, that was favored by four points and well rested after enjoying a week off.

Before addressing the elephant in the room, I have a few post-game observations:

Not only did a dome team dominate the Bears in their outdoor backyard but Saints play-caller Sean Payton coached circles around his Bears’ counterpart, Matt Nagy.

The Bears may have a good defense but they were made to look woefully pedestrian against a Saints offense that played without offensive stud-puppies Alvin Kamara, Jared Cook and, of course, Brees. The Saints clearly had the better defensive unit. Don’t be misled by the final score; it wasn’t that close.

Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is looking more and more like a bust than the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. And to think Bears officials passed on Patrick Mahomes (No. 10, Kansas City) and Deshaun Watson (No. 12, Houston). Trubisky would be fourth on the Saints depth chart. In fact, the Bears should consider going after Bridgewater in free agency. TED-DY would be a marked improvement.

OK, now to the elephant.

Watching Payton afterward trying to shoot down a TV report of Brees’ targeted return Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals (noon, Fox) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome reminded me of an infamous statement made by former New Orleans Mayor Vic Schiro in the mid-1960s.

“Don’t believe any false rumors, unless you hear them from me.’‘

Fox TV sideline reporter Erin Andrews based her reporting on discussions with Payton and Brees, going so far as to say Brees could enter the Cardinals game as the designated backup to Bridgewater which would enable “emergency QB’‘ Taysom Hill to get more offensive snaps at other positions.

Payton labeled the report “incorrect’‘ without elaborating.

End of story.

But it isn’t the end of the story. Brees is expected to return to practice Wednesday, further fueling speculation from media and inside Who Dat Nation while promoting the inevitability of his return under center.

Call me sentimental, and I’m probably in the minority, but I’d like to see Bridgewater start against the Cardinals and get a chance to go 6-0 as a starter.

Whatever happens, TED-DY may go back to being No. 2 on the Saints depth chart but he no longer has to take a backseat to anyone.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.
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