The Film Don't Lie: Saints

A weekly look at what the New Orleans Saints must fix:

The Saints need to rediscover their downfield passing game during the bye, especially with potential shootouts looming at Detroit in Week 7 and versus Green Bay in Week 8.

The deep ball has been fading since last season for a number of reasons. But it was noticeably absent during Sunday’s 37-31 overtime victory over Tampa Bay.

Drew Brees completed 35 of 57 passes for 371 yards. But only four completions went to receivers Marques Colston, Kenny Stills and Robert Meachem. Brees was 2-of-6 on throws of 20 yards or more in the air, according to ESPN Stats and Information data, with no touchdowns and one interception (an underthrown deep ball for Meachem when he took a shot on third-and-long late in regulation).

As I wrote previously, I don’t believe it’s an arm-strength issue with Brees. He still has plenty of zip on intermediate throws and completed a gorgeous 46-yard pass to Stills two weeks ago. But Brees is definitely rusty on the long throws, and he admitted he needs to “get the feel for that again.”

Defenses deserve credit. They’ve clearly made it a priority to take away that element, which is partly why the Saints’ run game has had so much success dating back to late last season. And Brees has also remained efficient while feeding shorter passes to tight end Jimmy Graham, receiver Brandin Cooks and running backs.

The receivers deserve some blame. Colston might have as many as seven drops this season, depending on your grading scale. And though I can’t accurately say whether receivers are getting less separation, there have been some deep throws for Meachem and Joe Morgan in which the corners were in position to make great pass break-ups even when throws looked on target.

Against Tampa Bay, Brees was also dealing with consistent pressure in his face from tackle Gerald McCoy. That’s not to make excuses -- but to point out that more than one fix is needed.