Back in February, it was announced that 2020 will be the final season for future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Even with Brees under contract for two more seasons, all indications by both Brees and the Saints’ staff have been this will be the last. For years many people have speculated at when this season would come. With Drew Brees set to be 41 for the upcoming season, the clock had already been ticking for some time now. The Saints championship window likely hangs on the shoulders of Brees, so it will be a big season ahead for New Orleans.
Not Long Ago
Just a few seasons back, New Orleans was known for a pass happy offense led by Drew Brees. Although passing is still very much a part of the Saints’ gameplan, we’ve seen some changes. Since 2016 there has been a notable decline in how many plays consist of a Drew Brees pass attempt. Sean Payton has done an excellent job at mixing in the run to lighten to burden on Brees’ arm over the past several seasons. 2016 was the first 1000 yard rushing season for Mark Ingram and arguably the most notable turning point in the Saints’ strategy.
The following season the Saints made a major transition into running more frequently with the additions of Adrian Peterson & Alvin Kamara. 2017 was a great season for the Saints ground game and the first time New Orleans had finished a season above .500 since 2013. Since 2017, both Ingram and Peterson have left New Orleans, but the Saints ground game has persisted on with Kamara. Due to the success, New Orleans has had with the ground game, it feels like Payton is aware of how to best set Brees up for success.
The Saints have also notoriously run some of the most creative passing plays in the league. As a result, Drew Brees have his receivers finding open holes in the defense helping improve his efficiency. After adding some more pieces this off-season for the passing attack, it appears this will be a growing trend. Creating a balanced attack over the last few seasons has made New Orleans into a powerhouse once again.
Adding new wrinkles to a familiar strategy. It’s no secret that Payton loves getting Taysom Hill involved in the gameplan wherever he can. But don’t expect Hill to be the only wrinkle to the Saints offense for 2020. Expect to see the Saints come out using more 12-personnel this upcoming season. 12-personnel is the offensive package when a team goes 2 WRs, 2 TEs and 1 RB. The Saints starting using this package more frequently in 2019 and have made more moves to improve this package.
The 12-personnel would be a great strategy to help Brees out because it adds additional chip blocks on the edge to help out against a fierce pass rush. 12-personnel also makes it difficult on a defense to determine if there will be a run or pass on the play. Adding this to an already balanced offense could create many problems for the defenses the Saints play. Brees is also the most accurate passer in the league, which would add to how lethal this package will be for the Saints in 2020.
The Saints will also project to have one of the most dynamic rushing attacks in the league for 2020. One of the biggest ways the Saints could expand on their rushing attack would be using Hill under center. This could especiall be big for their 21-personnel. The 21-personnel is a package with 2 WRs, 1 TE, and 2 RBs. The Saints run the 21-personnel at one of the league highest clips as it stands now. Pair this with the increased role expected for Hill this season, I expect innovative running plays drawn up.
Having Hill in the backfield during 21-personnel presents the defense with an added set of legs to worry about defending. There’s a multitude of ways the Saints could utilize the backfield here, but I expect this to certainly be an added element. The only challenge for Payton will be keeping the defense on their toes against a possible pass from Hill. As long as the play can be disguised, I expect the Saints to get creative with the 21-personnel.
Read more about the Saints Additions Here
Expectations for Drew Brees
Coming off of a great 2019 season, Drew Brees ranked among the top of the league in efficiency. Brees will still be expected to come out an perform as an elite arm in the NFL. There will be many additions made to the offense to support his success. This team thrives with Brees playing his best will be the goal. Age has started to show as his arm isn’t what it once was, but his mind is better than ever. If Brees is able to maintain his high efficiency, Brees could have one of his best seasons to date. The supporting cast for this upcoming season looks to be one of the best of Brees career.