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Monday, November 2, 2015

Catch your breath: Here's how good Drew Brees actually was yesterday

Posted By on Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 12:40 PM

While you catch your breath and recover from a hangover you have regardless of whether you drank yesterday, let's talk about two particular Saints players.

You know what they say: There's good news and there's bad news.

Look: Any talk about moving on from a healthy Drew Brees — trading him (in the middle of the season for a third round pick, says the worldwide leader in sports websites I wish I never had to visit!), cutting him, etc — was stupid before yesterday's historic shootout, and remains stupid after it.

Drew Brees' performance has not significantly declined. His physical skills are so far about the same as they have always been. The only concern, right now, about his effectiveness is related to injuries, particularly to the shoulder he hurt early this year, but if that shoulder didn't look okay to you yesterday, it'll never look okay to you.

Stuff could still happen. This is football and the storyline changes weekly. As of November 2, 2015, though, the most likely future is one in which the Saints feature Drew Brees at quarterback for another three or four seasons.

So let's move on. Let's look at the incredible thing he did yesterday. First, a big play that almost happened:



Brandin Cooks barely missed a catch he should have made, one that likely would have become a 75 yard touchdown. Tack those numbers on to Brees' final stat line (40 of 50, 511 yards, seven touchdowns) and you have an unprecedented 586 yard, eight touchdown day. That would have been an NFL single game passing yardage record, beating the current mark by 59. It would also, of course, have been an NFL record day for individual passing touchdowns.

The game may also have unfolded differently. Who knows? The point remains: The Saints' skill players left big plays on the field even during their best performance of 2015 so far.

Here is a list of ways to slice Brees's performance:
Read that last one again. Eight NFL quarterbacks have thrown seven touchdowns in a game. In seven of those games, their team won easily. Only Brees had to throw a seventh touchdown to avoid losing.

Meanwhile, on Browner Island...

Brandon Browner's 2015 performance to date has generated almost as many awe-inspiring facts as Brees's performance yesterday. The oft-penalized cornerback has redefined the very concept of being oft-penalized. For him, the yellow flag is an instrument of art. He should throw them at a canvas and sell the result.

The Saints are the league's number 30 team in terms of penalties accepted, with 67 total. Fourteen of those accepted penalties were committed by Browner (a fifteenth was declined). Subtract Browner's total from the team's, and the team would be among the dozen or so teams with the fewest penalties.

Browner is the only NFL player who has committed double digit penalties. He is the only NFL player to have accumulated triple digit penalty yards. There's also this:
Over twenty percent of the Saints' total penalties are Browner. Of the 363 yards the Saints' defense has given up via penalty, 143 of them were given up by Browner. 

Saints fans expected to see Browner commit a bunch of penalties this year. Few of us expected this many. It's something like waiting for a firework to explode, only to have it go off like a ton of TNT. Browner is a stunning liability on the field, less a fix for the team's second cornerback woes and more a culmination of them, a perfect storm of Jason David big plays and Corey White lowlights and — well, Brandon Browner penalties.

It's thanks to players like Browner that Drew Brees is now the only NFL quarterback who has thrown a game-tying seventh touchdown. 

Hail Breesus.

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