Conventional passing statistics can sometimes be a little more complicated than conventional rushing statistics, and thus worth a little closer look. Still, DVOA is useful for offensive passing statistics, too.
Standard Passing Stats
Completion percentage: 61.1
Sacks Allowed: 15
Sack Yardage Lost: 106
Net Yards/Called Pass (Sacks Included): 7.07
That's a lot to digest, I understand. Here are the basic take-homes from those statistics. The Saints are guaranteed more than seven yards per time a pass play is called. Few teams can boast that kind of production.
One stat missing is sack percentage. That number is 4.2 percent. That means Drew Brees is only sacked on one of every 25 called passing plays. That is exceptional. Add to that the interception rate of 2.3 percent, and it's easy to see that the Saints only have negative results on 6.5 percent of all called passing plays.
In other words, on 93.5 percent of the Saints' called passing plays, they net a positive result (incompletions are much better than sacks or interceptions and thus a positive result).
The yardage statistics also insinuate that the average completion for the Saints nets a first down. That is rare. Drew Brees normally averages approximately 9.5 yards per completion for his career.
In other words, he's nearly 2.5 yards per completion better than normal. In other words, the passing game has been more explosive this season than normal.
Adjusted Percentage: 25.9
Non-Adjusted Percentage: 24.1
While the conventional passing statistics make the Saints' passing game look gawdy, the adjusted metrics bring it back to earth a bit. The adjusted percentage makes up for the fact that Brees has thrown fewer interceptions in the second quarter of the season than he did in the first. And his overall efficiency has been better the past four or five games.
In this case, statistics simply prove what the eye test told us.
Even the non-adjusted percentage tells us the Saints' passing offense is 24.1 percent better than the league average over the first eight games of the season (though some teams have played nine games).
Interestingly, the adjusted rate proves that Brees has played better as the competition level has increased. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that Brees truly missed offseason activities, but is now back to playing at the level he did in 2012.