In Yet Another Record(s)-Setting Performance, Drew Brees Re-Introduced Himself as One of the Greats of Past and Present
To be honest, I’m fresh out of new ways to acknowledge, applaud, and admire Drew Brees’ continued greatness. When he “finally” threw the 540th touchdown pass of his career - after the officials made it clear that not even the most flawless game in NFL history will go by without them raining on the Saints’ parade, this time with a bullshit call that put history on hold until the second half - it honestly felt like the 540th time we’ve celebrated a living (and growing) legend. After reading off the following laundry list, it appears that isn’t anywhere near as hyperbolic as you’d think…
At this point, I feel stupid for not having a boilerplate statement prepared with blanks being left open for the specifics of mathematically inconceivable milestones and the increasingly defied age at which they were met. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am almost exhausted beyond words by the excellence of a quarterback who broke the record for career touchdown passes and the record for completion percentage in a game with a performance that felt pretty damn familiar. The truth is, if two contested catches had hit the ground over the course of Monday’s master class then it realistically would have had the eerily similar look of a lesson that you couldn’t pick out of lineup of those he has taught dumbfounded defenses over the last decade plus. For that reason, I was left looking like Teddy Bridgewater in the wake of a performance that was both awe-inspiring and somehow relatively run-of-the-most-finely-tuned-mill...
As for what his resurgence means for this season’s Saints team? Well, it can ditch the disguise, because it couldn’t possibly be more clear that Drew Brees’ thumb injury was just a flat-out blessing. Credit to Sean Payton's savvy, Teddy Bridgewater’s temperament, and the defense’s dominance for keeping everything in cruise control, because that early undefeated streak is at least partially responsible for Clark Kent hitting the phone booth when his duty is most urgently calling. The Saints’ ultimate equalizer is peaking, and what's largely been a pretty average offense looks primed and postseason-ready as a result. The freshness of a player who has looked 40-years-young is the closet thing to a failsafe or a fix-all, and that’s a hell of a thing for a team dealing with a bunch of injuries on the opposite side of the ball to suddenly fall back on. It helps that Drew Brees has a tool at his disposal, in Michael Thomas, that is unprecedentedly infallible in execution, but the important thing is that the arm utilizing him isn't dinged up or diminished like it appeared to be late last season.
I am interested to see what's in store this Sunday in Tennessee. The safest bet for a blowout is the Saints playing in the Dome in primetime when their All-World quarterback has his heart set and his eyes focused on putting another record in the rearview, and having the Super Bowl team in attendance for their 10-year anniversary might as well have guaranteed it a Monday Night massacre. It almost wasn’t even fair to expect the Colts, and a QB that looked much like…well…someone who was shocked to find out that he was taking the reigns of a presumed contender from a revered star who retired ten or so days before the season, to put up such an uphill fight.
For that reason, I want to see if a depleted pass rush can show better than it did against a solid offensive line that’s been entirely intact all season. The secondary won’t be granted the collective mile of margin for error like they were offered by Jacoby Brissett’s off-target throws, so whether or not they are able to give Ryan Tannehill fear-induced flashbacks to the days in which Adam Gase whispered sour nothings into his ear will speak volumes about their playoff readiness. Home-field advantage is but a pipe dream so seeing the offense keep their foot on the gas and/or an opponent's throat outdoors would also be a soothing sight for sore eyes.
That said, they couldn’t have put together a more comforting bounce-back game than they did against the Colts. The return of a remotely reliable AJ Klein allowed Demario Davis to put his full range of disruptiveness on full display and the secondary, which will be leaned on more heavily with the defensive line down three firsts worth of talent, was solid when it had to be. Most importantly, the unstoppable force we’ve seen routinely shatter records from under center kept gaining the type of momentum that even the most immovable of objects would worry about meeting head-on when it matters most.