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Are the New Orleans Saints in for a rough season without Drew Brees?

It seems the New Orleans Saints keep running into trouble ever since Drew Brees retired. From Marshon Lattimore and Deonte Harris getting arrested, to David Onyemata’s six-game suspension, to the injuries of Michael Thomas and Wil Lutz, if this is how the beginning of the post-Brees era begins, the Saints could be in trouble. 

We look at some of the roadblocks either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston will have to overcome in their first season starting for the Saints.

Check out our full breakdown of the 2021 New Orleans Saints schedule

Marshon Lattimore arrest could take toll on New Orleans Saints’ cornerback depth

Without much cap space to work with this offseason, general manager Mickey Loomis cut cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who started 13 games for them in 2020. Recently, another corner, Patrick Robinson retired. The worst part is their most accomplished member of the secondary, Lattimore may face a suspension stemming from his March arrest

Needless to say, the New Orleans Saints could have some major depth issues at cornerback this season.

Should Lattimore have to miss any time, the Saints’ top corners would be fresh signee Brian Poole, Ken Crawley, and rookie Paulson Adebo. Of that trio, only Poole has any recent starting experience. For a unit that allowed the fifth-fewest passing yards per game in 2020, any drop-off will only put more pressure on the rest of the team. 

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David Onyemata suspended for six games hurts defense too

Are the New Orleans Saints in for a rough season without Drew Brees?
Nov 22, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) and defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) celebrate against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After making 30 starts over the past two seasons, Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata will miss the first six games of the season due to a suspension for substance abuse.

With a career-high 6.5 sacks last season, Onyemata finished with an 88.2 grade on Pro Football Focus. Already thin up front after Sheldon Rankins left the Big Easy, replacing Onyemata in the starting lineup is no small task.

If Lattimore ends up getting suspended, to go along with Onyemata’s six-game suspension, the Saints could be without two key contributors from a defense that allowed the second-fewest yards per game last season. Maintaining that top form without a number of impact players could set them on a bad path to start their year.

Drew Brees’ replacement may not have much to work with

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Dec 22, 2019; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) breaks the record for receptions in a season with this touchdown reception during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in Sean Payton’s career with the Saints, he won’t have Drew Brees to rely on. Without the future Hall of Fame QB, can the new Saints starting quarterback continue playing mistake-free football? That’s what Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill are hoping to find out.

If they hope to have strong starts, they’re going to have to do so without the Saints’ top receiver Michael Thomas. A recent ankle surgery has Thomas set to miss the start of the season. This comes after Thomas ignored team officials for months. If the Saints get off to a poor start, once their star receiver returns to health, a Thomas trade shouldn’t be out of the question.

To make matters worse, Saints receiver Deonte Harris was recently arrested for a DUI as well. Should Harris face a suspension, who’s left to throw to? At this point, we’re legitimately asking. 

Tre’Quan Smith could maybe pass for a No. 2 receiver, but not for a playoff contender. 2020 UDFA Marquez Callaway wasn’t bad for a rookie, but probably isn’t ready to take any attention away from Alvin Kamara.  

New Orleans Saints leading scorer set to miss 8-12 weeks

New Orleans Saints leading scorer set to miss 8-12 weeks
Dec 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz (3) before their game against the Minnesota Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints had two Pro Bowl players score 126 points in 2020. Alvin Kamara was one. The other was kicker Wil Lutz.

Unfortunately, Lutz is set to miss the start of the season due to core surgery. This ailment is likely to keep Lutz out for months. This injury could have Lutz miss somewhere between three to six games. Without Brees, the Saints should find themselves in a lot more close games. Not having their kicker to start the year could cost the Saints a win or two in the NFC South division race.

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With adversity mounting, how will the New Orleans Saints respond?

No matter what, the New Orleans Saints will be entering their Week 1 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens with a lot to prove. Hopefully, for their sake, the QB situation will have soundly sorted itself out by then.

If some of their impact players can avoid suspension as well as get back to being 100%, the Saints could find themselves marching again come playoff time. But if the jazz becomes too loud to deal with, don’t be surprised if the Saints come crashing down in their first season without Drew Brees since 2006.

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