The New Orleans Saints are one of four lucky franchises to have a future Hall of Famer at quarterback; the others being the New England Patriots with Tom Brady, Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers, and Denver Broncos with Peyton Manning. The Saints have also been lucky in the sense that Drew Brees is the only one to not miss a game due to injury (Rodgers has been durable as well, but had a brief bout with concussions). However, this makes one wonder where the Saints would stand if things went awry.
We have seen the backup situations for each of the aforementioned players at some point. Some turned out badly (see Curtis Painter) and others weren’t so bad (Matt Flynn and Matt Cassell). For the longest time, Brees’ protege was Chase Daniel, who was attached to Brees at the hip on the sidelines. However, with Daniel being signed by the Kansas City Chiefs, the Saints will be looking for a new understudy for Brees this season.
Enter Ryan Griffin, an undrafted free agent out of Tulane. Griffin already had some ties to the Saints: his former head coach, Curtis Johnson, was the wide receivers coach for the Saints from 2006-2011.
While at Tulane, the Green Wave ran the same offensive system as the Saints. A four year starter, Griffin proved that he could be very productive, setting school records in passing attempts and completions. Despite the high volume of attempts, he managed to stay efficient, setting a school record for completion percentage with a whopping 59.9 percent for his career. In two of his four years, he was actually over 62 percent. In addition, he was second among Tulane quarterbacks in yards, including a career-high of 2,771 yards in nine games his senior season. Finally, he was fourth in touchdowns with 56.
Griffin is a project at this moment. Though Brees gave him the nickname “RG4,” his 5.20 forty is a far cry from RG3’s 4.3 speed. However, what Griffin does possess is impressive arm talent which has scouts comparing him to Jay Cutler. However, unlike Cutler, Griffin lacks the mobility to escape pressure in the pocket to make use of his arm strength.
Having said this, Griffin has still proven that he can be productive as evidenced by his numbers at Tulane, but he will need a lot of coaching at the next level to have a chance; who better to receive that from than Sean Payton and Brees.
Up to this point, we have been used to all the shots of Brees on the sideline being accompanied with Daniel close with a clipboard. This year, however, it will be Griffin holding the clipboard, in all those NFL Films shots. But unlike Daniel, Griffin, standing tall at 6-foot-5, will be looking down on Brees, while at the same time looking up to him.