Who Wears the Crown: Identifying the Saints' Best Player at the Midseason Mark

Will Osgood@@BRwillosgoodAnalyst IOctober 25, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 07:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after a rouching the passer penalty to the San Diego Chargers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Four weeks ago when I wrote this article, I concluded that Pierre Thomas was the New Orleans Saintstop dog at the time. Through three games, Thomas was the Saints best player—hands down in my mind.

After three more games have been played—and the team has won two of them to make them now 2-4 and second place in the NFC South with the possibility of getting into playoff contention—it’s time for another look at who wears the crown for the New Orleans Saints.

Just as before, a number of players will be discussed (four in this case) and then one player crowned with the title of best player on this New Orleans Saints roster through six games.

LB Curtis Lofton

Curtis Lofton could have easily gained a nomination in the first go-round on this list.

Instead I chose Cameron Jordan because of the amazing improvement he showed from his rookie campaign to his sophomore season.

Jordan is being left off the list this time to make room for Curtis Lofton.

The truth is that Jordan is still playing well, but Lofton has cemented himself as the best player on the Saints defense through six games.

Through six games, Lofton has been a part of 59 total tackles.

That doesn’t even count all the times he forced a ball-carrier back to another more able tackler. And it also doesn’t include his one sack on the season, which he gained two weeks ago in the Saints’ first win of the season against the San Diego Chargers.

Most of all, it doesn’t include the spectacular leadership Lofton has given the Saints in a transition time. Just as the whole team is, Lofton is learning a new defense, but has the added challenge of learning a new city, culture and new team.

Yet, he has quickly established himself as the team’s best defensive player and stalwart leader.

RB Pierre Thomas

About the same time I wrote of Pierre Thomas being the Saints’ best player, fellow B/R featured columnist Jason Bernos and I began The NOLA Rundown on Thursday nights (6 PM central time).

One of our weekly segments has become the “Man Crush” segment, where we spew about our favorite man of the week.

We’ve been doing it for three weeks now and Pierre Thomas has found his way into that spot on two separate occasions.

How could he not when he continues to be the little engine that could of the league?

Sure he is bigger in stature than Darren Sproles, but it’s Thomas who most resembles the mythical character we all loved as children.

As mentioned previously, Thomas earns this candidacy nod for everything but his numbers. It is the heart and determination he runs with each time he touches the ball. It’s the way he does everything the team needs.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that Thomas scored the Saints first rushing touchdown since Drew Brees made the one-yard plunge against Carolina in week 2.

Hint: Thomas won’t win the crown this time around, but he’s still a Man Crush favorite.

QB Drew Brees

Last time, Drew Brees was a candidate but never given serious consideration to the crown. At the time, he looked a little off. Sure you’d still have taken him over 95 percent of the quarterbacks in the league.

But something was missing.


It’s back to being Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers as the 1A and 1B quarterbacks in QB proficiency week in and week out.

Certainly, they are the two hottest quarterbacks in the league. Not only did Brees break the all-time consecutive games with a touchdown streak—and raise it one this past week—but the 33-year-old veteran played maybe the finest half of football Sunday I’ve ever witnessed from a professional quarterback.

Though he had a pass tipped and intercepted, Brees quickly rebounded to throw four touchdowns—three in the second quarter. Brees made quick decisions and was as accurate as he has been at any time this season.

It was a clinic on how to play quarterback, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Brees over the years.

WR Marques Colston

Of course the success of a wide receiver is at least in part captive to the abilities and success of the quarterback throwing him the ball.

In Marques Colston’s case, that is excellent news, and has been for years.

Not only does Brees throw the ball as hard and accurately as the quarterback, Paul Blake, from “Necessary Roughness” on his farm, but Brees uses amazing eye control and knowledge of the defense to control it and give each of his receivers an equally great chance at success.

Colston, though, brings tremendous toughness, route-running ability and hands to the game.

Each of those attributes makes him one of the most difficult covers in the league, when he is healthy—as he has been the past three weeks.

As Jason Bernos wrote here, Colston finally has a legitimate shot to earn what has been an elusive Pro Bowl nod in the NFC.

Colston has 35 catches and 517 yards on the season. That yardage puts him on pace to easily break a career high for a whole season. And his five touchdowns put him within range of breaking his own personal mark as well.

All of that is quite impressive for a player who did most of that damage the past three games.

And the Crown Goes to…QB Drew Brees

This is probably not much of a surprise.

After all, I just said that Brees is now playing the QB position as well as anyone else in the entire league.

He is back to his 2011 form, to say the least.

With 2,097 yards and 18 touchdowns, Brees leads the league in two of the most notable categories of all.

His 96.1 QB Rating isn’t shabby either.

It’s notable that his eruption back to the top of the QB efficiency ratings has coincided with the improved play of the entire Saints team. The still-stinging loss to Green Bay notwithstanding, the New Orleans Saints are playing as well as any team in the league since the fourth week of the season.

Drew Brees is a key reason for that sudden rise.

Now if Brees and Co. could only have those first three weeks back!


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