By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
If Sean Payton’s Saints are to get back to the Super Bowl any time soon, it will likely include Drew Brees.
The window for success is wide open to Payton, who won’t put a time limit on that coach-quarterback union.
“At the stage he is in his career, it’s a question that gets asked a lot,” Payton said on NFL Network’s Total Access. “I have not seen — there’s not a rep, a play where I’ve noticed something different.
“I think it’s a credit to, look, we know how he trains, his diet, everything in his day to prepare to play well at that position. I think it’s really changed, we’ve seen a change and we’re talking about a Manning or a Brady, a number of these guys at that position can play longer. I don’t want to put a number on it because I have not seen the beginning or a tick down at all.”
Payton and Brees have been together in New Orleans since the 2006 season that helped uplift the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Their pairing peaked in 2010 with a victory over the favored Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, and has produced explosive offense good enough to land Brees among the 10 highest single-season passing yards marks in multiple years.
Brees and the Saints are coming off a 7-9 season that included five losses by eight points or less, so an uptick in wins is within reason. The quarterback was largely true to form at least statistically, finishing with 4,870 yards passing (68.3 completion percentage) and a 32-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
But at age 37, Brees is also battling Father Time, even if the statistics and his head coach won’t admit it.
More from Payton on Total Access:
» On Brees’ (and Payton’s) longevity in New Orleans: “Drew was someone that had a significant injury, kind of an unprecedented injury for quarterbacks, so there was some uncertainty in regards to the recovery and we had to take some risks. I think that visit we had with him — we had already signed Scott Fujita — proved to be, it obviously was huge. To play 10 years, or for Drew now going on Year 11, this is my 10th year, to have consistency from ownership to GM to head coach to quarterback, it’s not real common.”
» On how the Saints should honor the late Will Smith: “I don’t know that there’s a way that we can honor him aside from honoring his memory and seeing his family still and seeing his children. That’s the most important thing. When you have something tragic like that happen, I think it’s always best to look at it as ‘what would he want?’ He would want us to keep his family involved in the Saints, he would want us to have that mentality. He was such a no-nonsense type of player. He was a born leader on the defensive line. You didn’t want to mess with him. So whether it’s a patch or a sticker or any of those things, I think it’s more for a guy like Will, remembering what he stood for. Here’s a guy who just finished getting his masters at Miami, just finished getting his MBA. I know (Smith’s wife) Racquel had just gotten the graduation certificate. It’s tragic.”