Following up on the previous entry that had the 1991 New Orleans Saints defense ranked in the Top 30 units of the past 30 years, Football Outsiders put together the same list for their best offensive attacks. It’s not shocking that the 2011 Saints squad comes in at fifth-best from their DVOA metrics.
The column requires ESPN Insider access, and can be viewed here. Here’s what they had to say on the Drew Brees-led offense.
5. 2011 New Orleans Saints
Eight of the top 10 seasons in Football Outsiders' quarterback DYAR belong to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The two interlopers are Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers -- both in the same season, 2011. That year saw three offenses play at a historic level, but the Saints were more balanced than the Packers or Patriots, ranking third in passing and second in rushing. Four backs had at least 75 carries for New Orleans, but the standouts were Pierre Thomas (5.1 yards per carry) and Darren Sproles (6.9). Sproles also led all running backs in receiving DYAR and caught 86 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns. This was also a big season for Marques Colston (sixth in DYAR among wide receivers) and Jimmy Graham (second among tight ends).
The Saints went 13-3 that season, finishing 1st in the NFL in yards (7,474) and 2nd in points scored (547). Brees broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing record against the Falcons on a very memorable Monday Night Football. The Saints offense had only one game in 2011 in which they didn’t produce over 300 yards as a team, a Week 8 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Many believe that had the Saints beat the 49ers in the Divisional Playoff game, they could have won their second Lombardi Trophy.