Kartje: Drew Brees tones down the air show, and the New Orleans Saints take off
By Ryan Kartje
On paper, this has not been an especially brilliant season from one of the NFL’s most brilliant quarterbacks.
Few quarterbacks in league history have set a higher statistical standard than Drew Brees.
In the eight seasons since the Saints won the Super Bowl, Brees has led the NFL in passing yards five times. He owns five of the nine 5,000-yard seasons in NFL history, while no other quarterback has more than one. He claims five of the top 12 seasons in pass attempts, and not since 2007 has he finished with fewer than 32 passing touchdowns in a season. Only Aaron Rodgers, Dan Marino, and Peyton Manning have as many 40-touchdown campaigns.
For years, Brees consistently churned out eye-popping numbers like clockwork. He was, in essence, the perfect quarterback for the fantasy football era. Every week was a fireworks show of passing stats.
But this season, the future Hall-of-Famer’s numbers have merely been … solid. He’s on pace for his fewest passing touchdowns since arriving in New Orleans back in 2006 (24). His yards per game rate (278) is his lowest since 2008, and he has just three 300-yard games, a year after he racked up 11 such games.
This is not the Drew Brees to which we’ve become accustomed.
And for that very reason, the Saints are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
From 2012 to 2016, as Brees racked up over 25,000 yards through the air, the Saints finished under .500 in every season but one. While Brees’ numbers blew up, the team fell apart in almost every other facet of the game. The defense cratered, finishing in the bottom five in points allowed in four of five seasons. The run game was non-existent; only once in that stretch did the Saints have a 1,000-yard rusher. If not for Brees, the Saints would’ve been in dwelling in […]