The same cannot be said of the Kansas City Chiefs, whose murky quarterback picture was only muddied further Thursday night as Brodie Croyle struggled and a nearly perfect Brees led the Saints to a dominating 30-7 victory.
Playing in all but one series in the first half, Brees hit 17 of 19 passes against the first-team defense for 182 yards and one touchdown. One of his passes was a beauty of a downfield dart that David Patten dropped. His quarterback rating when he retired for the night was 124.1 -- a sharp contrast to the 15.1 of Croyle.
"I felt we really executed well on offense," said Brees. "Obviously, you'd like to get some more touchdowns instead of field goals, but sometimes that is just the way it goes."
Brees, a flawless 6-for-6 for 55 yards in his only offensive drive in last week's 27-19 victory over Cincinnati, hit his first five on this hot, sticky night. In both of their first two possessions the Saints drove nearly to the goal line, but were stopped.
"The expectations are pretty high that I have for myself, that the head coach has for me and my quarterback coach and obviously the guys around me, so I just try to get better each week, try to be as efficient as I can," said Brees.
Croyle, a second-year pro, battling veteran Damon Huard for the starting job, was only 5-for-17 for 45 yards. Hurried and harried by a New Orleans defense that frequently beat the Chiefs' offensive line, Croyle was also sacked twice and threw his third interception in three outings. This game was viewed as a golden opportunity for him to wrest the job away from Huard, who was held out with a sore calf.
But instead of seizing his chance, Croyle seemed to help make the case for Huard, a 34-year-old career backup who played well last year when Trent Green was injured.
"I had a great opportunity to go out there and kind of make my case that it's time for me to be a starter, and didn't do it," said Croyle. "But we'll go back to the drawing board and we'll get better."
In three preseason games, the Chiefs (0-3) have scored only 29 points. The defense has scored eight.
"You saw a good offense here tonight -- that other team's," said coach Herm Edwards. "We struggled offensively for the third week in a row. We can't seem to get out of our own way. We've got two weeks to figure out what kind of team we're going to be. That's enough time."
Pierre Thomas, a rookie free agent out of Illinois who came into the game deep on the depth chart, scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns for the Saints on runs of six and 19 yards against the Chiefs' reserves and could have made a good case for himself to win a job.
"He made a real good impression on us, not just in tonight's game but throughout the course of this camp," coach Sean Payton said. "He played well and he played hard."
Making a bold case to possibly unseat Devery Henderson for the No. 2 wide receiver spot was Patten. Despite his drop in the first quarter of a perfectly thrown long pass, the 11-year veteran wound up catching six passes for 75 yards and one touchdown. His 33-yarder gave the Saints a first-and-goal on the 5 on their first possession.
Bush got loose around end for a 24-yard gain to help set up Mare's 31-yard field goal and a 6-0 lead with 6:37 left in the half. Mare was 3-for-3 with a 44-yarder in the second half for a 16-0 lead.
Brees led the Saints on a six-play, 45-yard drive late in the half capped by Patten's 4-yard touchdown catch when he got wide open in the back of the end zone.
Larry Johnson, the Chiefs' Pro Bowl running back who ended a 25-day contract holdout this week, did not play. He's expected to see his first action next week in the last preseason game at St. Louis
"Obviously, we're ready to get Larry back. He's a great runner," said Croyle. "He really kind of sets up our offense."
Marcus O'Keith scored the Chiefs' touchdown on a 2-yard run with 1:53 left.
"Brodie struggled some, but he didn't get any help either," Edwards said. "He can't catch the ball. He can't block. That's not all on the quarterback."