How the LA Chargers can beat the New Orleans Saints: Pressure Drew Brees, drain the clock
This is not going to be an easy feat. The Saints are going to be touchdown+ favorites in this game and for the right reason. As promising as the Chargers can be, the Saints are one of the best teams in football, at home, on primetime.
If the Chargers are going to win this game then they are going to have to find the common denominator that was in three of the Saints’ four losses (including the playoffs) last season.
That is getting pressure on Drew Brees. At his age, he is not as quick in his release and his reads and when pressured, he turns from an all-time great to a subpar quarterback.
The Saints’ first loss last season was to the Los Angeles Rams, which, in part, was because of Brees hurting his thumb during the game. Once that happened, the game was all but over but that injury was caused by the Rams getting pressure on Brees constantly. It is not like he was playing great before that.
The team’s second loss was a surprise loss to the Atlanta Falcons where Atlanta sacked Brees six times, hit him 16 times and constantly threw pressure in his face. Brees completed 32 of 45 attempts for 287 yards and no touchdowns.
The third loss was a shootout with the San Francisco 49ers. While the 49ers did have the best pass-rush in the league last season, the Saints lost this game because the 49ers scored 48 points to their 46.
Finally, in the playoffs, the Saints laid yet another egg against the Minnesota Vikings in a disappointing 20-26 overtime loss in which Brees was not very good. Brees completed 26 of 33 passes for 208 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a fumble.
The Vikings sacked Brees three times in that game and hit him 12 times. He was under pressure all game.
When you start to get pressure to Brees the offense turns from an explosive one to one that relies on check-downs. With a secondary as good as the Chargers, the team can essentially take a “bend, don’t break” outlook to keep the Saints from scoring big.
From there, it is up to the offense to drain the clock and go score-for-score with the Saints. If those two things happen, then the LA Chargers have a chance. If Brees gets rolling early, it will be over.