In 2011, Drew Brees had his finest season as professional quarterback. He set the all-time single-season record for passing yardage with 5,476 yards. He also threw for 46 touchdowns and had a 110.6 QB rating.
In case you aren't a football historian, let me tell you, those numbers are historic. With 46 touchdown passes, Brees had one of the top-five seasons of all-time. The 110.6 rating is as almost as good as any quarterback has ever recorded all-time.
Let's not forget that Brees led his team to a 13-3 record and another NFC South championship.
But I believe that we still haven't seen the best of Drew Brees yet. In fact, I believe 2012 will be an even finer year for him and the Saints.
On Wednesday, Drew Brees won the NFL FedEx Air Player of the Year Award.
Saturday Night, the NFL is hosting an awards show for all the official NFL awards.
Aaron Rodgers is the hands-down favorite for the MVP award. But with Brees' amazing statistics, it would be hard to imagine he is completely left out. That is why I believe Brees will earn the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award on Saturday night.
There could be a lot worse ways to start off the year 2012.
I don't know exactly what that number will be, but I know this: Drew Brees deserves to get paid as well any player in NFL history. No man has done more for a franchise or a city.
New Orleans has hope in large part because of this Saints football team. And the main reason for that is St. Drew himself.
Just as St. Paul in the Bible talks about how those doing the work of ministry deserve to have their needs taken care of, St. Drew deserves to be rewarded for the work he's done in turning around the city of New Orleans.
I'll guess that when the Saints and Brees complete their contract negotiations, Brees will end up with a deal in the neighborhood of six years and $120 million. That's just my guess.
I believe the Saints will come up with creative ways to keep Brees' cap number low so that the Saints can continue to build around Brees for years to come.
In fact, I'm certain that is the primary reason the two haven't come to an agreement yet. For the Saints to come up with a good cap number for Brees, it may take some sacrifice from Brees on some levels.
It will get done. It's just going to take a little more time.
As I investigate the entire 2012 schedule, there isn't an opponent Drew Brees can't torch. Yes, the Niners are on that schedule, but the very fact that the Saints faced them in 2012 already means they'll know what to expect from that defense.
And any of the other 15 opponents are apt to give up 1,000 passing yards if they aren't careful.
But it's because the Saints defense likely won't be up to par quite yet in the opening game, and the Saints may need to either come from behind or outlast their opponent in a shootout.
I'm sure the Saints will win their 2012 opener, even if it's in an AFL remake that ends 52-49.
Despite the incredible passing totals and record-setting season through the air in 2011, the New Orleans Saints showcased an incredibly balanced attack. The four-headed monster of running backs in 2011 combined for more than 2,000 yards on the ground.
I'm not saying the Saints won't continue to be a balanced offense, I just think more production will come from the passing game—especially in terms of getting the ball into the end zone.
Brees will hit more receivers in stride deep down the field for easy touchdowns. And he will also be responsible for throwing the ball more often within the 5-yard line on rollouts, fades and play-action passes.
Brees will likely match or exceed Aaron Rodgers' 51 touchdown passes of 2011. Why? Simply put, Drew Brees is on a mission in 2012.
In 2012, Drew Brees was efficient with the football. He threw just 14 picks in 657 total passing attempts. That's one pick for almost 47 throws.
Let's say Brees attempts just 600 throws in 2012. In that event, Brees will throw for 12.75 interceptions on the season—assuming the same ratio, of course.
But let's assume a few things: First, Brees continues to make great decisions with the football. Second, his receivers don't have passes drop out of their hands and into defensive backs' hands half as often in 2012. Third, let's assume that luck ends up on the side of Brees and the Saints in 2012.
With a little luck, Brees' throws will bounce off defenders' hands and fall to the ground or end up in his receivers' hands, as was the case in 2009.
With a fully intact offensive line (assuming of course that Carl Nicks re-signs) possessing a full offseason to work together, it is reasonable to think they will improve both in their run-blocking and pass-protection.
When Pete Carmichael Jr. was calling the plays, the Saints showed better balance in terms of short throws, intermediate throws, deep throws and play-action passes. By showcasing the running game, play-action becomes a viable protection scheme for all the different breeds of pass plays.
Look for the Saints to mix and match regardless of the opponent, with short, intermediate and deep throws into the plan, partially to keep secondaries off-balance but also in part to protect Drew Brees.
With these schematic elements and Drew Brees' rapid release, the Saints figure to get back to being among the league's best in sacks allowed.
For the sake of argument, there's little reason Brees should be sacked as often as any QB in the league. He is the best in the entire game at moving within the pocket. That skill always helps the Saints in this category. But with a more solid protection scheme, the Saints can become dominant in this area.
Every team loves to host a playoff game. It's even nicer when that game takes place in the Divisional Round. Host teams were 3-1 in the Divisional Round in this year's playoffs. In other words, it's a big deal.
Every Saints enthusiast knows Drew Brees has a fire within him to win. It's a fire that will cause him to keep playing well past his prime. It's a fire that may even cause him to struggle at the end of his career because he no longer possesses the same skill level he once had.
But that fire is also the likely cause for a renewed Brees—a Brees who will do literally anything and everything to make sure his team wins every game next season.
A motivated Brees means watch out, NFL. The Saints will be even better than they were in 2011.
I mentioned in previous slides Brees will throw for 5,500-plus yards, 52-plus touchdowns, 10 or fewer interceptions and lead his team to a first-round bye in the NFC Playoffs.
If that doesn't earn Brees the NFL MVP, nothing ever will. The best part is that Brees will put up statistics such as these in a year where other top quarterbacks regress just a tad bit. That will make the MVP his for the taking.
Last week, I highlighted the reasons the Saints will host the Super Bowl in 2013. Only brief mention, of course, was given to the brilliance of Drew Brees in the 2012 campaign. It's obvious that the NFL MVP from 2012 will be among the most influential causes.
Brees will light up the postseason much as he did in the 2009 championship run, when he threw for eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. With Sean Payton and Drew Brees calling the shot in NOLA, the Saints are yet to lose a postseason game in the Dome.
The playoffs of 2013 will likely lead to a similar result. Look for the Saints to take care of business at home against the Lions in the Divisional Round and the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Then the Saints will defeat the Houston Texans, 37-23, for their second NFL championship in four years and the first ever won by the organization hosting the game.
Drew Brees will earn Super Bowl MVP honors once again, and the whole city of New Orleans will not stop partying until Easter Sunday.
What I forgot to tell you at the beginning is this will all happen when I buy the Madden 2013 football video game. But who knows, maybe life will imitate art next season.