Four Rivals Tell Sporting News Why Brees Is Key For a New Orleans Saints Repeat

Randy SavoieAnalyst IIDecember 11, 2010

On the run: Atlanta defensive end John Abraham says Brees' deceptive mobility makes life tough on opposing defenses.
On the run: Atlanta defensive end John Abraham says Brees' deceptive mobility makes life tough on opposing defenses.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Here is what happens when you are a small media market quarterback with more total passing yardage in a four-year span than any QB in the history of the National Football League.

Those empty-suit talking heads at ESPN don't even reference you when they talk about the game's two best quarterbacks.

Former Vikings great Cris Carter said this week that he's never seen a defending Super Bowl champion with a 9-3 record receive less accolades. Here's the thing, it's true.

The "experts" don't consider the Saints' All-Pro QB the gold standard in spite of the fact that he has won as many Super Bowls as Manning and defeated Brady convincingly on the way to winning the Super Bowl last year.

It's all about about Brady and Manning and blah, blah, blah.

Guess it comes with the territory of being the leader of a franchise with a 40-year history of futility prior to winning the whole thing less than one year ago.

However, the players and coaches who lose sleep every week when confronted with the prospect of facing Brees know the real story.

They say Brees is every bit as lethal, if not more so, than Peyton and Tom.

"He knows where his receivers are going to be, and he's a trained pro at getting the ball out quickly,"  Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham told Sporting News. "It's tough on defensive linemen, especially when a game is close. A mobile quarterback is always tough for a defensive lineman...You can't rush the passes like you want to because he could break the pocket and make a big play."

The Saints travel to Atlanta to face Abraham and the NFC South-leading Falcons on December 27th in a nationally televised Monday night broadcast with strong playoff implications.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Farrior told SN's Gerry Dulac: "What (Brees) has done for that city has been tremendous. They're all looking to him for leadership, they're all looking to see what he's doing. He's always doing the right thing. He's always doing the right thing at the right time."

Farrior and the Steelers were Halloween night victims of Brees in a game that appears to have been a turning point for the slow-starting Saints. New Orleans is on a four-game winning streak since defeating Pittsburgh, 20-10, at the Superdome.

As for Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Ronde Barber, he says intelligence and accurate place Brees among the league's elite QBs.

"His strength is his knowledge of what you're doing to him," Barber told Sporting News. "No matter what you show him, he always knows where to go with the ball. Also, his accuracy is exceptional. When he has to make throws, he can make every single one of them...even against pressure."

Minnesota Vikings interim head coach and former defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, whose teams suffered two losses to the Saints in nine months, tells SN's Mark Craig he loves the way Brees distributes the ball as a way of keeping everyone involved in the game.

Said Frazier of Brees: "The way he spreads the football around, we just couldn't focus on one or two guys. You have to cover the wide-outs and you obviously have to be aware of Reggie Bush. Drew does such a great job of not homing in on just one guy. That makes it more difficult for a defense to prepare."

Brees tells SN's Mike Triplett, "I really try not to pay attention to the statistics, other than obviously, I don't want to turn the ball over...That's something I care a lot about...Completion percentage is something I pay attention to, but throwing the ball away is also good because the alternative is you take a sack or you try to force the ball into a bad situation."

"So, when you look at, in '07 we set the NFL completion record," Brees told Sporting News. "In '08, we came 15 yards short of Dan Marino's all-time single season yardage record. Last year, we break the completion percentage record. There are only so many records. But in the end, I've certainly learned that the records are fun, but only if you're winning."