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Drew Brees: What to Expect When You're Expecting Decline

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Now that we know his stats don't prove he's declining, what does history tell us we can expect from Drew Brees for the rest of the 2014 season?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

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:

Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A
2006 111 170 65% 1234 5 2 90.3 7.09 7.13
2007 137 213 65% 1175 3 9 67.4 5.56 4.04
2008 133 194 68% 1673 9 6 98.0 8.72 8.25
2009 110 159 69% 1400 13 2 112.8 8.77 9.83
2010 142 199 72% 1410 9 5 95.9 7.15 6.91
2011 152 219 70% 1769 12 5 102.6 8.04 8.14
2012 139 236 59% 1720 14 6 91.0 7.26 7.32
2013 140 201 71% 1722 12 4 108.8 8.69 9.06
2014 150 218 70% 1574 9 6 94.2 7.29 7.02
Average 135 201 67% 1520 9.6 5.0 95.7 7.62 7.52

And here are Drew's stats through the final 11 games of the season while with the Saints:

Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate Y/A AY/A
2006 245 384 65% 3184 21 9 99.5 8.29 8.48
2007 303 439 70% 3248 25 9 103.1 7.56 7.90
2008 280 441 65% 3396 25 11 99.1 7.95 8.21
2009 253 355 72% 2988 21 9 104.3 8.73 8.93
2010 306 459 67% 3210 24 17 90.4 7.16 6.63
2011 316 438 72% 3707 34 9 113.9 8.55 9.28
2012 283 434 66% 3457 29 13 103.2 8.05 8.25
2013 306 449 68% 3440 27 8 105.2 7.81 8.41
Average 287 425 68% 3329 25.8 10.6 102.3 8.01 8.26

Here are some of those key stats isolated to show just how they change each season:

Adjusted Yards Per Attempt

DrewBreesAYA

Completion Percentage

DrewBreesCompletionPercentage

Interception Percentage

DrewBreesINTpercentage

Quarterback Rating

DrewBreesQBRating

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.