Drew Brees understands the why, and he’s fine with it.
His snaps in preseason games have diminished over the years, and the reasoning behind the dip is logical for Brees and the New Orleans Saints. So, with Saturday’s third preseason game, against the Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., possibly being the only appearance he will make this preseason, the 19-year veteran just wants to make sure that the showing is an effective, efficient one.
“I like reps,” Brees said. “I like reps during practice. I like reps in games, especially. I also understand the balance of, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’ At the end of the day, the most important thing is being as healthy and prepared as you can be for Week 1 of the regular season, when games begin to count.
“I also understand the desire and need to develop young players, to give guys reps at all different positions. The last couple of years, I’ve just gotten really one game, maybe two, in the preseason. I’m fine with that. But I want it to be quality, I want us to be sharp.”
The first two preseason games have featured Teddy Bridgewater as the starter, and essentially playing the first half, and Taysom Hill as No. 2, and playing the second half. Bridgewater has completed 19 of 31 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown, with an interception. Hill has completed 19 of 29 for 216 yards and three touchdowns, with an interception, and has led the team in rushing attempts (11) and yards (98).
But the third preseason game – traditionally the “dress rehearsal” for the starters – is the only one in which Brees played last year, and possibly will be the only one he plays this year.
“The approach with him maybe has changed a little bit over the years,” Coach Sean Payton said Wednesday, Aug. 21. “You’re getting a lot of live looks in practice. But I think in a game like this, we’ll plan on playing him. How much, we’ll see, but I think it’s important for everyone else around him, too.”
Brees will face a mental and schematic principle from the Jets with which he is familiar. New York’s defensive coordinator is Gregg Williams, who was New Orleans’ defensive coordinator from 2009-11. The aggressive, blitz-heavy scheme isn’t just reserved for the regular season; it often has been on display in preseason.
And Brees is fine with that, too.
“You’ve got to be ready for everything,” he said. “That’s Gregg’s aggressive style, I like that aggressive style. I think he’s a very talented defensive coordinator and has had a lot of great defenses over the years.
“I think it’s great preparation for us, for what we could possibly face throughout the year. I would prefer to challenge ourselves by going up against good defenses like that as opposed to just, stuff that’s real vanilla that isn’t going to give you stuff that you feel like is really going to carry over to what happens during the regular season.
“In the regular season, people throw everything at you, right? So, I think that’s what helps us get better.”