The Super Bowl is usually about the two teams taking the field, with the brightest spotlight on the two quarterbacks that will be under center. However, when you’re opposite Peyton Manning, there tends to be the idea that the other quarterback is just out there, and doesn’t really matter. You see, we all know #18 is a great quarterback, and if you put your ear out there long enough, you’ll hear some say he’s the greatest that’s ever lived, but the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints? You know, Drew Brees, he’s a pretty good one as well, but he’s not getting close to the coverage he deserves this week. As Ed did yesterday in discussing Bob Sanders, leave it to us to address #9, and his value to the Saints, as well as the potential for him to make the Colts defense experience a world of trouble, come Sunday night.
In a way, this reminds me of Super Bowl XXXVI, when the Patriots took on The Greatest Show on Turf, the St. Louis Rams. Folks were in love with the Rams, and if there was ever a time when you thought someone was crowned before the big game, it may as well been them. Of course, the Pats had different plans, and ended up winning the Super Bowl, thus beginning the transformation of Tom Brady into a megastar.
Last year, Brees was 16 yards short of Dan Marino’s passing record, which was crazy in itself, but the craziest part is, as Phil reminded me, he did this while none of his receivers had 1,000 yards receiving. Usually, when a QB does something that epic, it comes with one of his receivers having making their mark as well. When Tom Brady threw for 50 touchdowns in 2007, Randall Moss had 23 of them. When Peyton Manning threw for 49 touchdowns in 2004, Marvin Harrison had 15 of them, Reggie Wayne had 13, and Brandon Stokley had 10. When Brees threw for 5,069 yards, his leading receiver, Lance Moore, had 928 yards! This year, he was top-ten in passing yards, while leading the league in touchdown passes, and having a TD-INT ratio of 3-to-1, which is higher than Manning’s 2-to-1.
He takes care of the ball, and Sean Payton puts him in position to be successful on pretty much every play, and he doesn’t take too many big hits. All due respect to the Indianapolis defense, but this isn’t Joe Flacco and an offensively-challenged Baltimore Ravens team, or a Mark Sanchez-led New York Jets offense. The Saints offense is a problem, simply because they have so many ways to attack you, and at the head of the monster is Brees. He’s only had one truly awful game, and that was back in Week Seven, against the Dolphins, and even in that one, he was able to find a way to lead his team to victory. In the playoffs, he’s thrown six touchdowns and zero picks, and has done it (in my opinion) against better competition, and a tougher road to the big game than the Colts have experienced.
Listening to Saints fans this week on the radio, TV, and in person, they’ll contend it’s no different than when they played the Cardinals and the Vikings, in order to get here. When they beat the Cards, the talk was about Warner and his impending retirement. When they sent the Vikings home, the talk was about Lorenzo, and his future plans to play another season, or retire. It was never about the signal-caller for the Saints, one who is a legitimate top-five quarterback, and an elite quarterback in the NFL. If the Saints find a way to prevail in the Super Bowl, my only hope is the spotlight isn’t on what the Colts and Manning didn’t do, but more on what the Saints and Drew Brees have accomplished. For anyone who has paid attention to him this year, it shouldn’t serve as a surprise, if it does indeed happen.