Does Drew Brees still Know How to Spread the Ball Around?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Who is really getting the majority of his passes; and should they? Find out who gets targeted the most, who has the best reception rate, and who contributes the most in terms of touchdowns and interceptions.

There has been a bit of talk recently about Jimmy Graham, and the risk/reward factor of relying on him too much or possibly losing him to another team. But how do his stats compare to the other Saints receivers, and to the overall performance of Drew Brees? Below, each game is broken down with: the stats for the quarterback, his top five (or six, in case of a tie) targets, and a brief description of the interceptions he threw, if any.

Week 1: Falcons 17, Saints 23

Drew's Stats:
26/35 (74%), 357 yds, 2 sacks, 2 TD (Graham, Colston), 1 Int (Colston)
Top Targets (Receptions):
Graham 7 (4, 57%), Sproles 6 (6, 100%), Colston 6 (5, 83%),
Stills 5 (2, 40%), Thomas 4 (4, 100%), Moore 4 (2, 50%)
Interceptions:
1 - Late in the 3rd quarter, with the Saints leading 17-20, Brees passes deep left: intended for Marques Colston, intercepted by R. Alford at ATL 45. Alford downed by Colston for no gain.

Week 2: Saints 16, Buccaneers 14

Drew's Stats:
26/46 (57%), 322 yds, 4 sacks, 1 TD (Graham), 2 Int (Graham, Moore)
Top Targets (Receptions):
Graham 16 (10, 63%), Sproles 8 (6, 75%), Colston 7 (4, 57%),
Thomas 5 (4, 80%), Moore 4 (1, 25%)
Interceptions:
1 - In the 1st quarter, with the Saints leading 3-0, Brees passes short left: intended for Lance Moore, intercepted by D.Watson at NO 35. Watson downed by Moore for no gain.
2 - Early in the 4th quarter, with the Saints leading 13-7, Brees passes short left: intended for Jimmy Graham, intercepted by M. Foster at TB 15. Foster returns interception 85 yards, for a touchdown.

Week 3: Cardinals 7, Saints 31

Drew's Stats:
29/46 (63%), 342 yds, 4 sacks, 3 TD (Graham x2, Meachem), 1 Int (Moore)
Top Targets (Receptions):
Graham 15 (9, 60%), Colston 8 (5, 63%), Thomas 6 (6, 100%),
Sproles 6 (4, 67%), Moore 3 (1, 33%)
Interceptions:
1 - Early in the 3rd quarter, with the Saints leading 7-14, Brees passes deep left: intended for Lance Moore, intercepted by T. Mathieu in the end zone for a touchback.

Week 4: Dolphins 17, Saints 38

Drew's Stats:
30/39 (77%), 413 yds, 2 sacks, 4 TD (Graham x2, Sproles, Watson), 0 Int.
Top Targets (Receptions):
Sproles 8 (7, 88%), Colston 8 (7, 88%), Thomas 6 (5, 83%),
Stills 6 (4, 67%), Graham 4 (4, 100%)
Interceptions:
None

Week 5: Saints 26, Bears 18

Drew's Stats:
29/35 (83%), 288 yds, 1 sack, 2 TD (Thomas x2), 0 Int.
Top Targets (Receptions):
Graham 11 (10, 91%), Thomas 9 (9, 100%), Collins 5 (4, 80%),
Sproles 3 (3, 100%), Colston 2 (2, 100%)
Interceptions:
None

Week 6: Saints 27, Patriots 30

Drew's Stats:
17/36 (47%), 236 yds, 1 sack, 2 TD (Stills, Cadet), 1 Int (Graham)
Top Targets (Receptions):
Sproles 12 (6, 50%), Graham 6 (0, 0%), Watson 4 (3, 75%),
Toon 4 (1, 25%), Stills 3 (3, 100%), Colston 3 (1, 33%)
Interceptions:
1 - Early in the 4th quarter, with the Saints trailing 17-20, Brees passes short right: intended for Jimmy Graham, intercepted by K.Arrington at NO 25. Arrington returns 5 yds before downed by Thomas at NO 20.

So what can we take away from all of this?

Jimmy Graham has been the favorite target for Drew Brees in four of the six games they have played thus far, and has been targeted on 59 (25%) of Drew's 237 passes. Graham has caught 37 (63%) of those 59 targets, while Brees has completed 120 (67%) of his 178 passes to other players this season.

Jimmy Graham's 63% reception rate is just below his quarterback's 66% overall completion rate, though the athletic tight end tends to be involved in big plays -- for better or worse -- more often than the average Brees target. While 8% of Drew's passes have resulted in either a touchdown or an interception, 14% of his passes to Jimmy Graham have resulted in one of the two critical plays. While being targeted for 25% of Drew's passes, Graham has caught six (43%) of the Saints' fourteen touchdown passes this season, and was the target on two (40%) of the five interceptions given up by the team this year.

For comparison, running back Darren Sproles has been targeted on 43 (18%) of Drew's passes, catching 32 (74%) of them, including one touchdown pass. The Saints top wide receiver, Marques Colston, has been targeted on 34 (14%) of Drew's passes, catching 24 (71%) of them; he also delivered one touchdown reception, and was the intended target on one interception. Running back Pierre Thomas has been targeted for 31 (13%) passes, and has caught 29 (94%) of them, including two 25-yard touchdowns in Chicago.

As fans, any given discussion tends to be colored by the most recent performance. Looking at the performance of Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham over the course of the season thus far... how do these figures impact your perspective on the quarterback and his favorite target(s)?

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