If you're here to talk about whether or not Drew Brees is declining, you've come to the wrong place. Our friend JR Ella did a damn fine job examining that yesterday. His conclusion? Drew's stats through the first five games of the 2014 season don't point to a decline. Instead, they simply point to a slow start in 2014; something not uncommon for Brees at various points in his nine year career with the Saints.
But JR's historical data only looks at the first five games of seasons past. It doesn't look at Drew's performance during the final 11 games of previous seasons, which might give us an idea of what we can expect from Brees for the remainder of the current season. That's where we pick up the discussion today. We're trying to find out whether Drew's poor play to start this season will continue through the year or whether he'll finish strong after struggling.
Let's look again at Drew's performance through the first five games of the season while with the Saints:
And here are Drew's stats through the final 11 games of the season while with the Saints:
Here are some of those key stats isolated to show just how they change each season:
Adjusted Yards Per Attempt
So there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that there don't seem to be any patterns or trends in the data. Some years Brees starts strong in any given statistical category, some years he doesn't. Some years he gets better in any given statistical category, some years he drops off. And right now, Brees is actually right in line with his nine-year average through five games. His stats so far this season are neither impressive nor terrible. It's a complete crapshoot as to what we might expect from him moving forward this season.
The good news is that there are clear examples of seasons in which Drew has played poorly the first five games - worse than 2014 even! - then turn it on in the final eleven games. The 2007 season is a good example of that; so is 2012, for the most part. The other good news, again, is that Drew's poor stats this year are not evidence of decline, just another one of his slow starts.
In short, we don't know if Brees will get better this year but it's definitely possible because it's happened before.