Brutal conditioning test? ‘Chip Kelly pace’ at camp? New Orleans Saints seem serious about playing uptempo

Frank Schwab
July 26, 2013

The first curious sign from New Orleans Saints camp was reports of a brutal conditioning test that is unlike most of the ones seen around the NFL.

Reports said it was like a CrossFit workout, and quarterback Drew Brees compared it to a "10-minute wrestling match."

Then it started to make sense when the Saints started practicing.

The Patriots had a lot of success running an up-tempo offense, and Eagles coach Chip Kelly doesn't have some copyright on playing at a fast pace. You're bound to see many NFL teams playing at a much faster pace, we just don't know yet which squads will do so. It seems pretty likely that the Saints are going to be one of the teams that play much faster on offense, so look out NFL.

The Saints already played pretty fast, as their 1,067 plays ranked seventh in the NFL last year. The Patriots played even faster, with 1,191 plays. If the Saints play at that pace, and keep up last year's pass-run ratio of roughly 65-35 (though that might have been a little inflated because New Orleans' defense was so bad), then grab your pencils and let's figure out what Brees might be able to do.

With 124 more plays, that's about 80 more passes for Brees. His average per attempt the last two years has been about eight yards. That would be 640 more yards. The last time Brees had Sean Payton calling plays, he threw for 5,476 yards in 2011 and set the NFL record.

So is 6,000 yards in a season possible? It seems crazy but if all the signs are accurate and the Saints plan to play at a breakneck pace, it's at least a possibility. Fantasy owners take note.

Payton was suspended last season. He had a lot of time to watch the rest of the league and think about 2013. Maybe he bought into a trend that is gaining steam around the league: Faster is better.

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