This weekend in New Orleans, Saints quarterback Drew Brees will break Johnny Unitas‘ record for most touchdown passes in consecutive games if he tosses one touchdown against the Chargers. Brees petitioned the NFL to allow banned head coach Sean Payton to attend the game and his request was granted. Payton was suspended for the season by Commissioner Roger Goodell for the Bountygate scandal and can’t return to the organization until after the Super Bowl. On the surface, it looks like Brees just wants Payton to be there to witness history. Is there more to it than that?
The Saints are winless on the new season without Payton at 0-4. The offense has been toothless without Payton, who is one of the best play callers in the league. Under the guise of just being in attendance to see the consecutive touchdown record broken, it would appear Brees wants him there because behind the scenes morale is down. The Saints went into the season with the proverbial ‘Us against the world’ mentality and the world is winning. Handily. Knowing Payton is in the building could be a move to re-inspire the team, provide a semblance of normalcy. Even if Payton is locked away in the press box, every player in that locker room knows his eyes are looking down on them. Another loss could mean no playoffs. As it is, the Saints are going to have to win at least 9 of the next 12 games to even have a chance. After their bye next week, the Saints hit the tough part of their schedule. Games still remain against the Giants, 49ers, Broncos, Eagles and two games against the undefeated Falcons.
The Saints have no running game. The feared quick strike passing game is gone and they are losing to teams they should beat like Carolina, Washington and Kansas City. Now the 3-1 Chargers come to town, another team all the talking heads say they should beat. As the Saints see now, nothing in the NFL is given. As for the streak, how ironic and microcosmic of the season would it be if the record is denied at home against the team Brees began his NFL career with? Nothing is given and Brees knows that, so he’s called in reinforcements. Looks like a simple sentimental gesture from a player to his coach. To this writer it looks like the last resort of a desperate team.