Drew Brees: Saints' offense needs to bounce back

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Last week, for the first time ever with Drew Brees under center at home, the New Orleans Saints didn't score a touchdown.

It wasn't as if the Saints were facing the 2002 Buccaneers or the 2013 Seahawks defenses. Nope. The Atlanta Falcons entered Sunday's tilt with a defense ranked 30th in yards allowed, 24th in total points given up, 31st in red zone defense and dead last in sacks.

The Saints got walloped by that one-winged bird, giving up six sacks and never punching it across the end zone line.

"Unacceptable," Brees said bluntly on Wednesday, describing the loss.

It's one thing to lose a game. Teams lose over the course of the season. It's another to lay an egg at home against a division rival who had been left for dead on the side of the road, entering the game with one win on the season.

"We were extremely disappointed in our performance," Brees said, via The Times-Picayune. "I think we know we're a lot better than that and understand that, especially at this point in the season, this is a time when we really want to start separating ourselves from the pack in a positive way and continuing to position ourselves to achieve the goals that we have set for this team."

The loss doubly hurts after watching San Francisco fall on Monday night, knowing New Orleans could have taken a step toward securing a potential No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. The failure, pushing the Saints to 7-2, now currently places Brees' team behind Green Bay for playoff bye positioning.

"We understand that every game you've got to show up and you have to play your best and what comes with that is great attention to detail, great execution, great focus and intensity," Brees said. "And unfortunately our execution just was not up to standard across the board. That needs to get cleaned up and it will get cleaned up and as a result, we'll play a lot better."

If failing to score against Atlanta's 30th-ranked pass defense proved hard, maybe facing the 32nd-ranked Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass D on Sunday will provide a reprieve.

Statistically the Bucs give up a ton of yards. Where they are particularly bad is defending the deep pass.

Bucs' Passer Rating Allowed by Air Yards in 2019, per Next Gen Stats:

Less than 10 air yards: 93.8 rating allowed, 10th best in NFL
10-19 yards: 105.6 rating, 25th in NFL
20-plus air yards: 124.8 rating, 30th in NFL

The Bucs can get got deep.

Unfortunately for Brees, the Saints' offense is vertically challenged.

Among 33 qualifying QBs this season, the two with the fewest air yards per attempt: Drew Brees (6.3) and Teddy Bridgewater (6.2).

The lack of a deep receiving threat is a big part of the issue, but the restraint on the Saints offense isn't new. Brees' air yards per attempt last season sat at 7.1, fifth-fewest in the league. The Saints get their explosive plays with perfectly set up routes designed to gain yards after the catch or with Alvin Kamara breaking tackles in the ground game.

Can they bust out of that multiyear slump and divebomb the Bucs in what is now a pivotal game for New Orleans in the playoff positioning race?

The good news for Saints fans is Brees has almost always bounced back from poor performances in the past. The QB has gone 6-0 with 15 passing TDs in his last six games following a tilt in which he didn't throw for a score (includes Week 8 vs. Arizona in his return from injury suffered in 0-TD game Week 2 at L.A.).

Facing a Bucs defense that has allowed 309.8 yards per game, a 99.8 rating and 22 touchdowns to just six interceptions this season to starting quarterbacks, the recipe could be there for a bounceback for Brees and Co.

But after a putrid, "unacceptable" performance against a similarly poorly ranked defense at home, can Brees' squad take advantage on the road in Tampa or will this be another game where the defense must take the lead?

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