Drew Brees Makes History as Saints Smoke Alex Smith, Redskins on MNF

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2018

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 08:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after throwing a 62 yard pass to take the all time yardage record against the Washington Redskins at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 8, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints moved to 4-1 with a 43-19 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night at home in Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Drew Brees made history in the victory, passing Peyton Manning as the NFL's all-time leading passer. He entered the game 200 yards behind Manning (71,940) and finished with 363 yards and three touchdowns through the air.

Brees climbed into first place with his 62-yard touchdown pass to Tre'Quan Smith with two minutes, 46 seconds left in the second quarter.


With this 62-yard touchdown pass... @drewbrees is the NFL's all-time leading passer! 🙌 #GoSaints https://t.co/K6vTQVwfOe


Breaking All-Time Passing Record Cements Drew Brees as Most Underrated QB Ever

Peruse any list of the top 10 quarterbacks in NFL history and Brees is likely hovering well outside the top five at the position—if he's even included at all.

At 39 years old, Brees entered Monday night first in completion percentage (75.8) and seventh in yards per game (323.8) this season.

To put that into perspective, only one quarterback aged 30 or older has gone an entire season averaging at least 300 yards while completing 70 percent or more of his passes, per Pro Football Reference. Brees did it in 2011 and is on pace—along with Kirk Cousins—to do it again in 2018.

There's no question Brees benefits from playing in an era that has inflated passing numbers across the board. Critics will also point to the Saints' lack of team success recently. New Orleans has two playoff appearances since 2011.

But Brees is clearly head and shoulders above nearly every quarterback in the NFL today—Tom Brady and possibly Aaron Rodgers excluded—and has shown little sign of a decline. He's also the biggest reason the Saints have not won fewer than seven games in a season since his arrival in 2006. Like Manning, Brees has been saddled with some terrible defenses through the years.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

- Most career 300-yard passing games (111) - Most 300-yard passing games in a season (13 in 2011) - Most consecutive 300-yard passing games (9, 2 separate streaks) - Highest Comp Pct in a season (72.0%) in 2017 - Most Pass TD in a game (7 in 2015 vs Giants - tied record)

Mike Renner @PFF_Mike

The Saints have had one defense since they won the Super Bowl grade higher than 20th in coverage. Brees a one man show

Putting Brees ahead of Brady, Peyton Manning or Joe Montana is a stretch, but NFL fans might be failing to appreciate how great he has been for 18 seasons.


Redskins Must Improve Pass Protection Before It's Too Late

Entering Monday night, opposing teams had a lot of success throwing Alex Smith off his game by getting pressure.

NFL Matchup on ESPN @NFLMatchup

Top QBs in the league this year when BLITZED! Drew Brees and Alex Smith both on there (in different areas) as we prepare for #WASvsNO on #MNF. #GoPackGo #SeizeTheDEY #GoSaints #GoBucs #Seahawks #LARams #Skol #HTTR #GoNiners #GoBills #FinsUp https://t.co/qabbI1E50j

The Saints defense clearly read that part of the game plan because it sacked Smith three times and hit him in the pocket on plenty of other occasions. Smith finished 23-of-39 for 275 yards and an interception.

Washington's offensive line is a great example why sack totals don't always tell the full story. The unit entered the game tied for the fewest sacks allowed in the NFL (six) but ranked 14th in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.

Neither number factors in the number of times Smith checked down to a running back or receiver for a short throw in the face of pressure.

Warren Sharp @SharpFootball

Alex Smith is the Leroy Hoard of QBs. "Coach, if you need one yard, I'll get you three yards. If you need five yards, I'll get you three yards." - Leroy Hoard

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Alex Smith checked down. DRINK! ** Please don't. You'll die.

A number of fans couldn't help but contrast Smith's rough night with Kirk Cousins' 301-yard game in a 23-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Nick Kostos @TheKostos

Kirk Cousins throwing dime after dime in Minnesota. Alex Smith throwing lawn darts.

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

This is the second time in three weeks that Kirk Cousins has played at a markedly higher level than Alex Smith. It's not even close

Smith turned 34 in May and is in the midst of his 13th season in the NFL. He's not going to suddenly be a different quarterback.

That's why Washington needs to find a way to give him more time in the pocket. Otherwise, Monday's defeat is a taste of what the team can expect in the weeks ahead.


Ingram's Return a Brutal Blow to Alvin Kamara Fantasy Owners

Pity the poor fantasy football owners who were relying on Alvin Kamara to help get them over the top in Week 5. Kamara had 24 rushing yards and caught three passes for 15 yards.

Mark Ingram II returned to the team after serving his four-game suspension, and his presence was immediately felt from a fantasy perspective. He had 53 rushing yards and was New Orleans' preferred back on the goal line, scoring two touchdowns.

Even Taysom Hill had a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Josh Eberley 🇨🇦 @JoshEberley

Alvin Kamara's fantasy finish and [touches] in a standard league each week : 1) 1, [17] 2) 13, [19] 3) 5, [31] 4) 1, [24] *Ingram back 5) 49, [9]

James Koh @JamesDKoh

Alvin Kamara managers after watching this #Saints game tonight https://t.co/klxlR09r35

Bleacher Report's Matt Camp was quick to ease the panic:

Matt Camp @TheMattCamp

A message to Kamara owners: This has been over since the start of the third quarter and he was dealing with a sore knee with Ingram coming back fresh. #Saints are being smart with a guy who probably got too much work over the first five weeks. Please remember last season. https://t.co/J636pv56oe

Monday was likely an outlier in terms of how few touches Kamara received, but Ingram's presence will undoubtedly cut into his fantasy value somewhat.

At the very least, fans shouldn't count on Kamara to maintain his torrid pace through New Orleans' first four games, when he had 611 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns. The Saints will assuredly look to get Ingram plenty of carries, especially in short-yardage situations.

Kamara's time as the No. 2 fantasy running back behind Todd Gurley might be over for the time being.


What's Next?

The Saints have a week off before they return to the field Oct. 21 on the road against the Baltimore Ravens. Washington, which fell to 2-2, stays in the NFC South for a home matchup with the Carolina Panthers.