The Super Bowl window is closing on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, says Jeff Reinebold
"I think Brees still is in that window of being able to guide a team to a Super Bowl, but let's be honest about these Saints. They're in the Super Bowl window, but the window is closing"
By Cameron Hogwood
Last Updated: 21/06/20 4:16pm
Jeff Reinebold has tipped the New Orleans Saints to be the NFC representatives in February's Super Bowl, but believes the window is closing on the team under veteran quarterback Drew Brees.
Brees turned 41 in January and is heading into his 20th season in the NFL, still in search of a second visit to the Super Bowl after the Saints were beaten by the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card round earlier this year.
The 13-time Pro Bowl selection missed five games last season due to a throwing hand injury, finishing the year with a league-high completion percentage of 74.3 with 2,979 yards for 27 touchdowns and four interceptions.
"When you cross that 40 threshold it's tough and often times the decline happens really fast," Reinebold said on Inside the Huddle. "Obviously he can't throw it as hard as he did before, they all lose some of it, but what you gain is knowledge.
"You're talking about an offensive coordinator in Pete Carmichael and a head coach in Sean Payton who have been with Brees for over 10 years now so they know what each other can do and how to complement one another.
"I think Brees is still in that window of being able to guide a team to a Super Bowl, but let's be honest about these Saints. They're in the Super Bowl window, but the window is closing."
Besides the on-field variables, Brees also faces a potentially frosty return to the Saints' facility after coming under criticism, particularly from team-mate Malcolm Jenkins, for perceiving kneeling during the anthem as a sign of disrespect to the American flag following the unlawful killing of George Floyd.
Brees' subsequent apology appeared to be received well by the likes of Demario Davis and Cam Jordan.
"I had a conversation with Thomas Morstead their punter about that very issue and he said that's already begun," Reinebold added.
"They've had a team meeting where Drew has apologised to his team-mates where they started to air out those differences and have those hard conversations. He and Malcolm Jenkins have some work to do.
"Thomas (Morstead) really believes that this team is so united and so together that this is like 'an argument in your family' where you disagree seriously, but in the end you're still family."
The Saints' offense ranked ninth overall last season as wide receiver Michael Thomas led the league in receiving yards with 1,725 for nine touchdowns from an unmatched 149 receptions.
Tight end Jared Cook also proved a key red-zone threat with 705 receiving yards for nine touchdowns from just 43 catches.
Coach Payton recruited some additional help for the pair this off-season by introducing Emmanuel Sanders, who helped the San Francisco 49ers reach the Super Bowl in Miami.
"I think it's going to be incredibly different because now you've got a second guy on the other side of the field that means the defense just can't shove coverage to Thomas or double Thomas," said Reinebold.
"You do that and we've seen that Emmanuel still has the ability to win. That's a guy on the other side that will really help Michael Thomas and this offense."
Running back Alvin Kamara, meanwhile, had a slightly quieter year than his outstanding 2018 with 797 rushing yards for five touchdowns and 533 receiving yards for one touchdown.
He was backed up well by veteran Latavius Murray, who had 637 rushing yards for five touchdowns of his own.
The pair will be joined in the backfield by Ty Montgomery in 2020 after he signed in May having spent last season with the New York Jets.
"I think he [Kamara] is best when he has somebody that can complement him, and I think Latavius Murray is that guy," said Reinebold.
"I know, talking to some Saints people, that they're extremely excited about Ty Montgomery and what he can bring to the table as another situational back.
"When you're an offensive coach like Sean Payton you can never have enough toys. You can never have enough guys that can do things for you."
Speaking of situational weapons, the Saints are also expected to continue exploiting the multi-purpose talents of quarterback Taysom Hill.
While he may never slot into the full-time role under center, Reinebold believes he will remain a valuable cog on offense.
"I think he can be a gimmick quarterback as he's shown, but I just don't know if he can be the heir apparent," he said.
"Sean Payton is a little bit of a mad scientist in terms of offensive football and he loves what Taysom Hill gives him where you can get in there, run RPO series, spread out and he can still throw the ball well as a drop back guy.
"He can beat you with his legs so he forces defenses to spend time in practice, that is precious time, defending against two absolutely different kinds of quarterbacks and that's a great advantage."
When it came to the 2020 Draft, one of the Saints' most eye-catching moves was to trade away four picks to the Vikings to move up and select tight end Adam Trautman out of Dayton at 105th overall.
"The only claim to fame Dayton had from a football stand is that Jon Gruden played quarterback," said Reinebold.
"They really believe that he can be that tight end that he can do it all, because he's shown in college he can block, catch the ball, he's athletic.
"They actually used the name of a certain tight end out in San Francisco (George Kittle) as a comparable when they were looking at this kid in the draft.
"You've got to say where is the problem [for the Saints]? Where is the flaw? I think this is a good football team, I think this should be the NFC champion."