Drew Brees is getting older, but he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. When ESPN calculated the “most valuable” Quarterback to their team in the NFL (paywall - Insider required), it should come as little surprise that Brees came out on top.
The Saints have essentially given us the same season three years in a row: Drew Brees throws for the most yards in the NFL, the offense scores a ton of points, but the defense allows even more in a 7-9 finish... New Orleans' non-QB offensive EPA was the fourth highest in the league. The issue is squarely on defense, where the Saints ranked 31st in EPA (minus-104.5) and became the fourth team in NFL history to allow at least 450 points in consecutive seasons. If Brees had even a mediocre defense, then the Saints would likely return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
“Most valuable” was calculated using a statistic created solely for this purpose, called “EPA,” or Expected Points Added. To quote it simply: “Every play has an expected point total based on factors such as down, distance to go, field position, home-field advantage and time remaining. The higher the EPA, the more successful that play was at helping the team score the game's next points.”
Brees come above Aaron Rodgers of the Packers, who many believe to be the best QB in the league. He’s also above Tom Brady of the Patriots, who failed to even crack the Top 10. In the NFC South, with Brees #1, Matt Ryan of the Falcons is the next-highest ranked QB, coming in 4th overall. Jameis Winston and Cam Newton fail to make the Top 10.
In other accolades (or dis-accolades), Ryan was named “Most Accurate” with Brees coming in directly behind him 2nd. Cam Newton was named “Least Accurate” in the NFL, and both Cam and Winston made the Top 10 (4th and 5th respectively) in “Most Aggressive,” with Brees surprisingly absent from the Top 10.