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Want to feel better about Tom Brady? Look at Drew Brees' recent struggles in New Orleans

Alex Reimer
December 18, 2018 - 11:53 am
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If you want to feel better about Tom Brady, look no further than Drew Brees’ recent struggles in New Orleans. The 39-year-old pass-thrower, who was enjoying an MVP caliber season through the first 12 weeks, is faltering. Over his last three weeks, Brees has averaged just 177 passing yards per game with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He had perhaps his worst performance Monday night against the Panthers, not even finding the end zone once. Brees’ only toss in that direction was intercepted for a rare pick-two.

The Saints outlasted the Panthers 12-9 Monday in a gruesome primetime game that harkened viewers back to the 1960s. New Orleans’ defense swarmed Cam Newton and didn’t allow Christian McCaffrey much room to run, either. The Saints have allowed the fewest points in the league over the last five weeks. 

They’ve needed the defensive boost, because Brees isn’t providing much from the quarterback position. He’ll make his clutch throws, such as when he found Keith Kirkwood on a critical 3rd-and-14 in the fourth quarter, but he’s far from the prolific passer we’re used to seeing. In fact, Brady’s three-touchdown game in Miami dwarfs all of Brees’ performances from the last three weeks.

Overall this season, the Saints have relied heavily on a potent running game led by dynamic back Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Brees has been held under 250 passing yards on eight occasions in 2018, with the Saints winning all but one of those contests.

Brady’s season-long stats fall short of Brees’. The Saints’ QB leads the league in passer-rating (116), whereas Brady sits at 12th among qualified quarterbacks (97.6). But over the last month, Brady has been the superior player, despite all of the caterwauling about his approaching cliff. 

The most disturbing trend in Brady’s game is his newfound penchant for making mistakes in the red zone. Two weeks ago in Miami, he took a sack late in the first half without any timeouts remaining, leaving three points on the field. On Sunday in Pittsburgh, he threw his first red zone interception in two seasons. It was a horrible toss that didn’t possess any chance of getting completed to its intended target, Rob Gronkowski.

In addition, Brady bails out of plays with more regularity now, too. That probably explains why he was fading away on his final heave towards the end zone Sunday.

But Brees gives up on plays as well. Numerous times Monday, he dumped off the ball to Kamara at the line of scrimmage, and he was promptly swarmed by Carolina defenders. 

Much like Brady, Brees also plays significantly worse on the road. Monday in Carolina was Brees’ second bad road primetime performance in this stretch, with the first one coming against Dallas on Nov. 19, when the Cowboys won 13-10.

After tearing up the league through the first half of the schedule, the high-flying Saints, Rams and Chiefs have all come back to earth. Kansas City has been held under 30 points in two straight games now, and young Jared Goff has thrown seven picks over his last three contests.

The Patriots and Brady are not roaring to the finish line. But most other teams and quarterbacks aren’t either, especially Brady’s counterpart in New Orleans. 

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