So I was up late bored and procrastinating from the kajillions of things I need to do. I decided I wanted to write something that kinda summed up my thoughts that people would like to read and find enjoyable. Well, I did try to sum up my thoughts. If you find this enjoyable, you may have a sick mind that only I would enjoy.
I also plan to use some stats ahead, so if you're one of those who hate stats, here's your warning. I don't plan to be all "STATS PROVE EVERYTHING!" on you
, I mostly just want to point out some stats about how awesome players are.
Some more warnings, if you think Drew Brees is in decline, you won't like what I have to say. There, I've covered everything that I think can get me flamed.Run Run Sproles
Forgetting that horrible play call on 3rd and 3 (Seriously, what the hell kinda play call was that?), Sproles had another day that made me happy in places I shouldn't be. Sproles had what was probably his best overall performance yesterday against the Buccaneers. Sproles ran for a nice 42 yards on 4 carries for a sweet 10.5 YPC. That is the 4th 10.0+ YPC performance by Sproles, however, this was also the 2nd most carries he had of those 10.0+ YPC games.
Sproles also had 57 receiving yards on 5 catches for a total of 10 offensive touches for 99 yards and a touchdown. However, he has a total of 1,499 total yards for the Saints this year. The Saints have a total of 4,719 total yards on the year making Sproles contributions 31.8% to the total Saints yards. That's unreal and insane. It makes sense for an elite QB to account for 75% of it's total offensive yards (Drew has 3004 passing yards out of a total of 4006 offensive yards), but for one running back to account for so much of the Saints yardage is unreal. He should be an All-Pro player, and getting him at ~$4 mil feels like Mickey Loomis got a discount.
No Respect: The Pierre Thomas Story
After spending 30 minutes searching the internet, I am unable to find any stats to calculate how many yards running backs have after first contact. The stat geeks working on that are likely too intimidated by how much Pierre Thomas they'd have to watch. In my mind, Pierre Thomas is an underrated back. He is the most complete back on the Saints roster, who can run the ball well, have a good burst down the field, can catch the ball and make plays after the catch, and most importantly break tackles and not go down at first contact.
I don't think I've ever seen one guy take down Pierre Thomas alone this season. I think last year's issue with Payton's doghouse either scared him or emboldened him to do better. And wow was he up to the challenge. With Pierre, stats don't tell the whole story. Sure, 8 carries for 66 yards for a 8.3 yards is phenomenal especially with 4 catches for 25 yards. But there were so many plays in which Thomas had to make something happen to keep the play alive, and he did it. I'm so glad Payton didn't cut ties with him in the off season.
Breaking Down the Ronde Barber INT
Sadly, I am unable to embed a video for you guys to watch as I go through this play. So here's the link, I'll try to make screen shots to help keep you up.
From this first shot, you can see 8 Bucs lined up on the line of Scrimmage. Ronde Barber is the 9th below the screen. On the top of the screen is a receiver lined up in man coverage with Aqib Talib. It's something to watch for with so many Bucs lined up in the middle. Notice Sproles lined up next to Drew's left and Thomas to Drew's right. If you remember the play, watch Sproles.
As the play is going on, what looked like a blitz, was only a 3 man rush. 2 Bucs are playing zone in the middle of the field. The receiver at the top in coverage is still being covered by the corner with the Bucs holding good coverage at this point. Again, watch Sproles at the bottom. (Side note: Saints kept Pierre in as a blocker. Likely the Bucs were able to confuse Brees into thinking this was a blitz when this was a coverage play. My belief that the Bucs confused Brees will come into play on this next screen).
Now, look at this play from Drew's eyes. We can all see Lance Moore open behind the linebackers, but Brees has to throw the perfect pass in order to avoid getting tipped by the linebackers, getting tipped/intercepted by the corner closing in on Moore, and then finally putting it to where Moore can catch it before the safety behind him (which you'll see in the next screen) can come up and knock the ball out.
Since it's 3rd and 2, Brees has to make a completion for positive yardage here. Everybody is covered and the only one open is Sproles who currently has 4 yards of space between him and Ronde Barber. He makes a (usually correct) decision to dump the pass off to Sproles.
You may not be able to see it, but the ball is in mid-air here. It's heading towards Sproles and Ronde Barber is zooming in to get the ball. Notice the safety by Lance Moore now that the play has developed.
Finally, Barber is now neck and neck with Sproles who hasn't moved at all since the ball was thrown. Barber didn't have his eyes on Sproles, he had his eyes on Brees. It was a perfect storm created by the Bucs to let this play come to fruition. Brees thought blitz, the Bucs went into coverage which gave Brees one less person to throw to (Pierre Thomas). The Bucs had perfect coverage on the receivers and the only open receiver was Sproles. Of course, the corner covering Sproles was the veteran Barber who was watching Brees instead of Sproles. If Brees did a pump fake towards the middle first, it may have broke Barber's gaze on Brees, but he didn't.
Brees mistake was just a bad read on the defense. Dumping off to Sproles wasn't a poor decision, nor was it a poor throw as all of that happened over the course of three seconds. The defense had the perfect play called against the play the Saints were planning to run. Sproles didn't move though and knew Barber was coming at full speed. The interception isn't his fault though, but this was more of a good designed play by the defense combined with veteran eyes, mind, and hands.
Brees Yards: 3004
Marino's record: 5084
Yards to go: 2080
Games left: 7
Passing yards per game needed to tie passing record: 297.14
Brees current yards per game average: 333.78
Weekly "Why Brees is Awesome" Rant
Currently, Brees has 21 touchdowns on the year. That's good for 2nd in the league behind only Aaron Rodgers. Brees also has 3,004 yards which is good for best in the league and makes it Brees 8th straight 3,000+ yard season. Now for the really good, Brees has the 2nd best QB rating in the league with 100.6, 2nd only to Aaron Rodgers. Brees ranks first in the nation in first downs with 154 first downs by pass, which is 20 passes over Tom Brady.
Finally, what I find phenomenal, Brees is currently more accurate than his amazing 2009 season. Brees is currently 269/379 good for 71% completion percentage, 2nd only to....Aaron Rodgers with a 72.5% rate. What's the most amazing thing (it keeps getting amazing) is that Brees has the most attempts per game with 42 attempts per game. The QB statlines for those who have more than 37 attempts per game are below:
(Apologies for the table's skewness)
Awesome Dog Pic of the Week:
How about that Curse?
Saints are 2-0 in the throwback uniforms. However, the Saints are also 0-2 when the throwback Saints show up. So I call it a draw.