Saints head coach Sean Payton knew that the day would come when Drew Brees was no longer the team’s starting quarterback and moves for Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston in recent years were made with an eye on life after Brees.
Brees announced his retirement last month, which set the wheels for succession in motion in New Orleans but Payton acknowledges that the switch has not totally been flipped yet. He told Albert Breer of SI.com that the team is putting together offensive plans and preparing for a quarterback competition, but that fully embracing the team’s new reality will be on hold until they get back to work.
“We’re not there yet because we haven’t any practices, we haven’t turned around with something coming up where we’re like, That’s something Drew would’ve handled. We haven’t had that moment yet,” Payton said. “I’m sure there’ll be a few of them. But it’s a young team, that’s what’s exciting. . . . I think it’ll be different the first time we have an OTA, the first time we have a minicamp or the first time we get into training camp,” Payton said. “It hasn’t hit you quite yet because you haven’t done anything football-related. You’re involved in draft work, free-agent work. I’m sure there’ll be a couple stages to it where it’s the first meeting, first practice and so on.”
The Saints had to play without Brees for chunks of the last two seasons, so they have some experience running their offense through other quarterbacks. This won’t be a temporary fix and the Saints’ ability to put together a smooth transition will be crucial to their chances of remaining in the thick of the NFC playoff picture.