Over the past decade, there have been a number of times I wished Sean Payton would sit Drew Brees toward the end of blow out wins. It always bothered me during situations in which the Saints held a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter, Brees would continue to play every snap.
At the time, I assumed both Brees and Payton must value achieving statistical records over preserving Brees’ health. Instead of reducing Brees’ risk of injury by sitting him and utilizing backups like Chase Daniel, Luke McCown, Garrett Grayson, Matt Flynn, Ryan Griffin, and Mark Brunell, I felt the Saints played with fire time and again by continuing to keep Brees in when games were already sewn up.
When I look at that list of backup quarterbacks, it’s easier to see why Payton was hesitant to hand them the reins barring the rare injury to Brees. None of them were as good then as Teddy Bridgewater is now.
After ten years in the league, Daniel has started a whopping five games. He has started two games for the Chiefs and three for the Bears, while going 2-3 in those games. He never started once for either the Eagles or the Saints.
What Daniel has lacked in experience, however, he has certainly made up for in his compensation for effort. Before entering this season, Daniel had earned over $24.3 million or rather $311,594 per pass thrown or $59,322 per offensive snap.
But with multiple chances to win a starting job in Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Chicago, Daniel was always the bridesmaid and never the bride. There was no chance he’d ever sniff the field while on the same roster as Brees. Payton never even let him do anything more than hold kicks. “Laces out!”
Similarly to Daniel, McCown played 13 seasons in the NFl, but only started 10 games his entire career. He couldn’t win a starting job for teams like the Browns, Buccaneers, or Jaguars, so why would Payton have trusted him at all?
Garrett Grayson was cut twice by the Saints, once by the Falcons, and once by the Broncos. The Broncos could have used any decent quarterback this season. If you look up Grayson’s stats, there are no stats. He’s never played a meaningful snap in a professional football game since being drafted by the Saints in 2015.
In seven years in the league, Flynn has started seven games and failed to win starting jobs for multiple teams. After playing one good game for the Packers as they rested Aaron Rodgers, Flynn was signed as a free agent by the Seahawks. He then lost his job to the rookie Russell Wilson. He then failed to win starting jobs for the hapless Bills and Raiders.
Griffin, like Grayson, has been in the league since 2013, yet also has zero stats for both the Saints and Buccaneers. In fact, the only actual starting caliber quarterback of the bunch was Mark Brunell who played for five franchises, but basically won 50% of his games (78-73) and had a career completion percentage of 59.5%.
Saints fans: stop nitpicking Bridgewater. He is the best backup quarterback the Saints have had during the Payton/Brees era and it’s not even close. Finally, Payton can rest Brees at the end of games like in the blowout win against the Cardinals.
Brees can do his work, and if the win is in hand, there’s no reason Payton shouldn’t let Bridgewater seal the deal. Bridgewater now has the confidence to run this offense in any situation at home or on the road.
Payton knows it. Brees knows it. Even the multitude of Saints fans who joyously cheered “Teddy, Teddy, Teddy!” know it. The Saints finally have a starting caliber backup quarterback and Payton should use him as much as needed; and when the game is all but over. When the clock still has time left, it should be Teddy Time.