Drew Brees is arguably the most accurate quarterback of all time. In fact, his career completion percentage of 67% ranks number one, ahead of Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Steve Young, Tom Brady, Joe Montana, and Brett Favre among countless others.
Brees has set the single season record for completion percentage three different times. In 2009, he set a new record with 70.6% of passes completed. In 2011, he set it again with 71.2% of passes completed. Sam Bradford broke Brees’ record for one brief year in 2016, but Brees promptly wrestled it back in 2017 by setting a new record of 72% of passes completed over a single season.
On Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, a team he hadn’t beaten since his first game as a Saint way back in 2006, Brees looked just a little bit off. Typically, when Brees misses a receiver, I blame the receiver. The route may have been run improperly or the receiver got snagged on a chip block.
On four different occasions, however, it appeared Brees uncharacteristically missed the mark. First, he overthrew a wide open Ben Watson in the end zone. It almost seemed like he forgot he was throwing to a six foot three inch 37 year old instead of a six foot seven inch 31 year old Jimmy Graham. The Saints had to settle for a field goal.
Next, Brees under threw a streaking Ted Ginn Jr. who would have certainly scored a touchdown, assuming he caught it. Ginn had to stop his route completely and come back up field before the pass was nearly intercepted by a Browns cornerback. The Saints didn’t score on that possession at all.
Later, Brees overthrew Ginn, who has clocked unofficial 40 yard dash times between 4.28 and 4.45 as he created separation in the endzone. Last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed to overthrow speedster DeSean Jackson, but his wheels were able to catch up. Brees’ ball was so far overthrown, the fastest player in a Saints uniform didn’t have a chance.
In the fourth quarter, when a touchdown would have padded the Saints’ thread-thin point cushion, Brees threw ahead of Austin Carr. Carr had created almost a yard separation between him and his defender, but Brees missed another important scoring opportunity.
In the end, the Saints pulled out a nail biting win, but they have two missed extra points and a missed field goal to thank for that miracle. I think Brees may have been trying to protect the ball and not risk an interception, but these missed opportunities almost spelled the difference in a closely fought game.
I fully expect Brees to bounce back next week against the Falcons. Pundits have always referred to a quarterback’s “fall off a cliff” game, and with the way Brees prepares and takes care of his body, I just don’t see this as being that game.
After all, he completed so many other tight window throws. His game tying touchdown pass to Michael Thomas was a thing of pure beauty. But those four passes sure had me scratching my head.