“Load management” has been all the rage in the NBA with stars like Kawhi Leonard and Joel Embiid receiving frequent nights off for rest purposes. That’s easier to justify over a hectic 82-game slate, but usually when NFL players get an in-season breather, it’s not on game day.
However, Dominique Foxworth argues those rules shouldn’t apply to veteran Drew Brees, who the Saints need healthy and rested for the postseason. A midseason reprieve with favorable matchups against the 49ers, Falcons (twice) and Broncos in Weeks 10-13 would provide exactly that. Foxworth suggests letting Brees’ backup, former first overall pick Jameis Winston, take the majority of reps during that stretch.
“With Drew Brees’ arm strength and the fact that he’s aging a little bit, he hasn’t been playing poorly, but I think they need to bring Jameis in to start maybe three or four games in midseason to allow Drew Brees’ arm to rest,” Foxworth opined Thursday on ESPN’s Get Up. “One thing we can’t deny is by the end of the season, by playoff time, we’re looking at a different Drew Brees. Every year for the past three years, we’re looking at a different Drew Brees than we have early in the season.”
Brees’ fatigue was evident in 2018 with the quarterback going into a deep hibernation down the stretch. That wasn’t the case last year, however, perhaps due to an early-season thumb injury that cost Brees five games. Though it wasn’t his preference, the month-long hiatus may actually have helped Brees, who surged to the finish line with 15 touchdowns over his final four regular-season games. His absence also gave Teddy Bridgewater a chance to showcase his skill set, culminating in a lucrative, three-year deal with Carolina. Winston would stand to benefit from a similar opportunity.
“Not only does it give you a chance to preserve Drew Brees, it also gives you a chance to give Jameis Winston some work,” said Foxworth in support of resting New Orleans’ 41-year-old starter. “You might need Jameis at some point in the season. So go ahead and pick the time when you’re going to use him, get him those reps and let Drew Brees potentially rest and be fresher for the postseason run because this is a Super Bowl or bust team.”
The Saints are already sprinkling in a liberal amount of Taysom Hill. Why not mix in a former Heisman winner who threw for the eighth-most yards in league history last year? Foxworth’s unorthodox suggestion probably won’t have much influence on Sean Payton’s decision-making, though the idea of “load management” in football is an interesting concept to ponder and, if applied correctly, could help aging quarterbacks like Brees prolong their careers.