Can Drew Brees carry New Orleans Saints sans Sean Payton?

How the New Orleans Saints will respond to losing their head coach, Sean Payton, for the season is the main plotline the team’s bounty scandal pushed into the upcoming season.

In their “Double Coverage” segment, NFL AM’s Steve Wyche and Mark Kriegel disagree over if the Saints will stumble out of the gate without Payton and while assistant head coach Joe Vitt serves his six-game suspension.

The Saints suffered two of their three 2011 regular-season losses after Payton was injured in the first quarter of the Week 6 matchup with Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He watched the second half of the loss to the Bucs from the trainer’s office and from the coach’s booth as his team suffered a surprising loss to the lowly St. Louis Rams in Week 8.

“The Saints, they have a strong nucleus, they finally have their leader, Drew Brees, under contract,” said Wyche, who predicted a 4-2 Saints record to open the season. “He’ll be there to help galvanize them when they open training camp.”

Laying it all on Brees isn’t something Kriegel felt was fair to the quarterback, $100 million contract or not.

“This team is once again relying too much on the quarterback,” said Kriegel. “Drew Brees is a full time affidavit-giver, labor leader. It’s too much on one guy.”

But if there were one player in the NFL you’d be comfortable taking on too much, wouldn’t it be Brees?

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