FanPost

Passing Johnny Unitas by the Numbers

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In response to the article by Pat Yasinkas at espn.com which states the streak established by Drew Brees will come to define him, I absolutely concur. At the end of the day, one must examine the streak for more than just the 48-game mark. Until the streak ends, the record will belong to Brees. Saints fans have the privilege of watching Drew Brees play every week and understand just how special he is to the franchise and to the position. While certain talking heads wish to downplay the record, it should be recognized that Brees was absolutely dominating during this streak. Brees left records in the dust en route to a new frontier. Where the streak will end is up to the Saints offense and Drew Brees.

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The 48-game streak began on Sunday, October 18, 2009 at the Louisiana Superdome (now the Mercedes-Benz Superdome) in a home game against the New York Giants. Brees fired a one yard pass to tight end Jeremy Shockey in what would be the first of four touchdown passes in that game. Nearly three calendar years later, on Sunday, September 30, 2012 at Lambeau Field, Drew Brees tied Johnny Unitas with a 20 yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston. It seemed perfectly scripted by the NFL to get the Saints to play the San Diego Chargers at home on the night of Sunday, October 7, 2012. When Drew Brees completed the 40 yard touchdown pass to Devery Henderson, he stood alone in the record books.

During the regular season streak, Drew Brees set a standard at the position that will be tough to match. The Saints had a 34-14 record in the games in which Brees started. Brees was 1,331-1,936 (a whopping 68.8% completion rating) with 15,173 yards passing. His touchdown-interception numbers were 118-52. On average, Brees passed for 316.1 Y/G and he recorded 7.8 Y/A. On the ground, Brees also scored four rushing touchdowns. His numbers look even more impressive when his playoff performances are included. Those were also games in which he completed a touchdown pass, bringing the total streak to 54 games (also a record). In 54 total games, Brees was 1,515-2,205 (68.7% completion) with 17,237 yards passing, 135-54 TD-INT, 319.2 Y/G, and 7.8 Y/A.

Those numbers alone during a 54 total game stretch are impressive alone. Brees also owns a less celebrated streak of 41 consecutive regular season games with at least 20 completions. If playoff games were included, that streak would have been snapped by the Minnesota Vikings in 2010 during the NFC Championship Game. Brees became the single season passing yards leader in the 2011 season when he passed Dan Marino on Monday, December 26, 2011, breaking the record in the fifteenth game of the season. Brees also owns numerous other NFL records (62) and has been steadily creeping up the all-time list.

Despite what certain talking heads may claim, Drew Brees is an elite NFL quarterback that deserves to be in the Professional Football Hall of Fame and Museum once he is eligible. He may not be the media darling, but at the end of the day, what Brees accomplished in his career will be too difficult to ignore. Those who deny it simply will miss a chance to recognize greatness.

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However, we should not ignore the supporting cast.

Touchdown receptions by the numbers during the regular season streak:

Marques Colston: 25

Lance Moore: 20

Robert Meachem: 19

Jimmy Graham: 19

Darren Sproles: 9

Devery Henderson: 5

Jeremy Shockey: 4

Reggie Bush: 4

Pierre Thomas: 3

David Thomas: 3

Jed Collins: 3

Darnell Dinkins: 1

Heath Evans: 1

John Gilmore: 1

Joseph Morgan: 1

As expected, Marques Colston recorded the most receiving touchdowns (25) during the 48-game streak. With 52 regular season receiving touchdowns in his career, almost half of his touchdown receptions were made during this streak. Lance Moore holds second place on the list (20), while Robert Meachem and Jimmy Graham tie for third (19). Behind them in fifth place is Darren Sproles (9), Devery Henderson in sixth place (5), ex-Saints Jeremy Shockey and Reggie Bush tie for seventh (4), and Pierre Thomas, David Collins, and David Thomas tie for ninth (3). Darnell Dinkins, Heath Evans, John Gilmore, and Joseph Morgan each recorded a single receiving touchdown during the streak. However, the numbers shuffle a bit when the playoff numbers are added.

Regular season plus playoffs by the numbers (total receiving touchdowns):

Marques Colston: 27

Jimmy Graham: 22

Lance Moore: 20

Robert Meachem: 20

Darren Sproles: 10

Devery Henderson: 9

Jeremy Shockey: 6

Reggie Bush: 5

Pierre Thomas: 5

David Thomas: 3

Jed Collins: 3

Heath Evans: 2

Darnell Dinkins: 1

John Gilmore: 1

Joseph Morgan: 1

Once again, Marques Colston leads as the most valuable target with 27 touchdown receptions. Jimmy Graham vaults into second place with 22 receiving touchdowns. Lance Moore and ex-Saint Robert Meachem tie for third with 20 each. Darren Sproles remains in fifth place with 10 touchdowns. Devery Henderson's value was high during the playoffs and his total receiving touchdowns during the streak becomes nine. Jeremy Shockey moves alone into seventh place with 6 touchdowns while Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas each tie at eighth place with five receiving touchdowns. David Thomas and Jed Collins do not shift, each remaining tied in ninth place with three receiving touchdowns. Heath Evans moves alone into eleventh with two receiving touchdowns.

The point of this exercise was to demonstrate the streak would have been impossible without the stable of receivers the Saints had on offense. It would have also been impossible without the strong running game the Saints had from 2009-2011, which has taken somewhat of a slide backwards.

Source: www.pro-football-reference.com

This FanPost was written by a reader and member of Canal Street Chronicles. It does not necessarily reflect the views of CSC and its staff or editors.

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