View RSS Feed

Iwatt Stats!

Jock versus Statguy I: The Drew Brees Argument

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
The following is a new feature that we'll try to bring to FP this offseason, in which we discuss, debate, and argue about football topics from two different viewpoints.

The two guys duking it out are,

in the left hand corner, carrying his calculator and looking at his spreadsheets:


in the right hand corner, watching game tape and studying tendencies,


This argument has been brewing for a long time, and finally these two had to duke it out.

Is Drew Brees truly an elite talent, or just the product of a great system?

Submit "Jock versus Statguy I: The Drew Brees Argument" to Digg Submit "Jock versus Statguy I: The Drew Brees Argument" to Submit "Jock versus Statguy I: The Drew Brees Argument" to StumbleUpon Submit "Jock versus Statguy I: The Drew Brees Argument" to Google

Tags: brees, debate Add / Edit Tags


  1. iwatt's Avatar

    This has been boiling up for a while now, and I think it's about time we hash this out. How can you say that the man responsible for the 2 most accurate seasons ever (2009 and 2011), and owner of the single season yardage record, is not an Elite QB, but actually somebody replaceable. I generally have the greatest respect for your insight, but this position of yours is untenable from were I stand! Drew Brees is one of the greatest QBs I've ever seen, how can you deny this truth that I hold self evident!





    It has boiled up for quite a while, let's put all the cards on the table. Brees needs the system he's in, and more importantly he needs Payton to be as successful as he's been. That's not an indictment, as I've stated before Brees is crazy smart, and silly accurate, but he's physically limited. He's small and he doesn't have a very good arm past about 20 yards. However any really good qb can complete passes at a high rate, to open receivers under 20 yards, but ill give him credit for being able to read and identify a defensive look to know where to throw. His abilities limit the play call. He's been very good, not great. He's a statistical compiler. Don't let that cloud your view.

    Likewise I respect your views, and I can even respect your view here. I make no bones about it, I know my views will be regarded in the minority of the minority in this matter. Clearly I don't care if others agree. My view is largely influenced by watching him play and the decisions he's made, stats be damned. The highlight reel can distort the story. Mines unabated...
  2. iwatt's Avatar
    I can't argue with you in regards to the fact that Brees plays in a favorable system, and has a genius as coach. But that holds true for most of the greats. Montana had Walsh. Graham had Paul Brown. Brady has Belichick who changed his philosophy from 07 onwards, realizing that his best player needed a system better suited to his abilities. Favre had Holgrem. Marino had Shula. Bradhsaw had Noll. Brees isn't the first QB whose great success is tied to a close relationship with a great coach. I don't think you can penalize him because of that!

    You seem to think anybody could make Payton's system work. I don't think that's true. Nobody is more accurate than Brees, and nobody has done it with a less renown a roster than him. Up until this year, Brees has not had a single skill player selected to the Pro-bowl. Not one. Not even in their superbowl year of 09. He makes that offense hum. Pierre Thomas is a journeyman. Chris Ivory is an unknown. His WRs are a bunch of unknowns picked in later rounds except for Meachem, who was a late first rounder, not exactly the place to find athletic freaks. This is the first year they've surrounded them with elite talent in Graham, Ingram and Sproles. And they singlehandedly destroyed the Rams record of most yards, Marino's most passing yards, and the most yards from scrimage for a player (Sproles).


    I'll capitulate that brees hasn't had top tier skill guys, but that's unimportant in paytons scheme. Prior to this year, the scheme has been all about equal distribution of the ball. That lessens the need for a stud skill guy. I'm not even going to open the can of worms you tossed my way by bringing up Montana, Marino, graham, and bradshaw. Except to say this. Bradshaw doesn't belong on that list, and the others weren't as schematically dependent as brees. We can debate all time greatness another time, right now were debating brees.

    This Saturday was an absouloutely perfect example of what I've seen previous that leads me to my opinion of brees. I'll give you a stat breakdown first, what most see are regard as way too important. Then ill give you an in depth breakdown of his performance that delves into the root of my opinion. The stats are what make most say I'm insane to have my view. Further reflection on the plays individually in the game with context give a glimmer into my opinion.

    For the game brees was 33/43 for 466yds and 3tds. Almost an 11ypa avg. Gargantuan numbers. Looking at that brees is an animal and mikes silly to have his view. What is he thinking?

    Let's dig deeper, and chart the game. I've seen every game brees has played in nola, and I've always thought the same thing. Highlight reels, and volume stats don't tell an accurate story.

    Of brees' 32 completions 21 were for 6 yards or less. Scripted plays and dump offs. That is all scheme and no skill. Any pro qb can execute those plays. 14 passes went for over 10yds. 7 completions to wide open receivers (uncontested balls) and 7 incompletes. Of those 6 went for over 25yds. Every single one of them was under thrown. He threw 3 balls that should have been picked. All over 10 yards. There were two passes thrown in the first half for over 10 yards.

    An analysis of those stats. Nola dinked and dunked the entire first half. In the second half when they chose to throw long brees was 50% over 10 yards, with 3 balls that should have been picked and every throw over 25yds being under thrown. They could throw long bc Detroit started crowding the box, bc the underneath stuff combined with the success nola had in the running game forced it. Add to that all 7 over 10 yd completions were uncontested to a wide open receiver. Mix that with the lions got next to no pressure. Brees needed 2-3 crow hops on every ball he threw over 25 yards. His arm is awful, with the crow hops he still under threw his guy every single time. The story told by this breakdown is brees has a great interior line, plenty of time, great footwork, a vastly superior scheme that calls for dink and dunk early, and takes shots late to a very low success percentage. Add to that the lions not so great defense. Is brees as great as you say, bearing that in mind? Brees needs this scheme. He can't accurately throw 15+ yards down the field. He's got no zip to fit it in tight spots, which is why every pass he completed to a wide out over 10yds was to a wide open guy. Brees is scheme adverse. He wouldn't be successful in over 50% of the schemes in the league. He has zero deep ball. Payton knows it, so he calls the short stuff. Id be super scared of payton if he ever had a guy that could throw the 7 or the skinny post, or the 9. Brees is not that guy.
  3. iwatt's Avatar
    Finally I see the disconnect between us.

    You are correct, Brees is not physically gifted enough to succeed on the pro level. He needs 2 probowlers in the inside of his line to keep passing lanes clean. He has to be hyper-accurate to compensate for low ball velocity. He needs a scheme that spreads out the field so he can hit the open receiver. To hit those long balls, he needs to take those crow steps, and place the ball perfectly.

    I agree wholeheartedly with all these points. And it's those same points that you hold against him that make him great in my eyes. He isn't 6'4", able to throw over Defensive Linesmen, like Manning and Brady. He doesn't have a rocket for an arm like Cutler or Newton. He isn't particularly quick on his feet like Vick or Rodgers. He can't take a pounding like Ben or Tebow. In a sport where you have to be a physical freak to make it to the big Show, he isn't particularly freaky.

    Except for two things: Leadership and accuracy.

    There is no way to quantify leadership, except by looking at what his teams do. Pierre Thomas refuses to be tackled. Marques Colston stays in the game with a broken shoulder. His wide receivers fearlessly cut through the middle of the field, even way back when safeties and mike LBs could still take their heads off. That is a leader that inspires players to play at their highest level.

    And his accuracy is off the charts. Here is were we disagree, because you think it's the high amount of short stuff he throws that makes him accurate. I say that he is very accurate in of himself. This video showcases this accuracy better than I could.

    Sure he throws short stuff, and he only hits open receivers after a certain distance. Well, I argue that is part of his greatness. He is capable of finding the open guy every single drop back. Maybe he has a high speed processor as a brain. But that mix of muscle memory/accuracy and quick target recognition are the mark of greatness. Would Sean Payton's play calling improve other QBs stats. Yes. Would they achieve the same level of performance as Brees. No, I don't believe so. Nobody, not even Tom Brady, is as good at finding the open receiver more quickly. Brees' slump early this year came when he started forcing the ball to Graham, particularly in that Panthers loss. When he forces defenses to stay honest, he is unstoppable.

    Finally, I find that a guy who succeeds at the highest level without all the physical gifts other guys have to be remarkable. That makes them even greater in my book. I'm not saying Brees is a stiff, he probably is off the charts in kinesthetic awareness. But he isn't a physical phenom.


    Well since we've established the points we agree on, let's address some of the ones I haven't spoken of and the points we diverge on.

    I'll agree you're 100% spot on about brees' leadership. He's a shining beacon of that. He's a vocal member in the local community, and a vital leader of the team. Perhaps that leadership was big reason why this offense was so incredible this year. He paid for practice facilities, and certain team members travel and lodging to get the team together in the offseason to have full practices. His teammates fully acknowledge, he's the captain of the on field ship. We both agree he's a strong leader. That's a personality trait that can foster strong on field cohesiveness, but so do most other top tier qbs.

    Let's dig into where we diverge. His "little train who could" story is cute, but its a variable that affects what any talent evaluator eliminates, emotion. While I appreciate the intrinsic effect it has, as it relates to the "every man" and how it can inspire others, this is a debate about his abilities. The way that fact affected your last post is exhibit a.
    Let's move along and get to the X's and O's of the matter. You say he's crazy accurate. Viewing stats and watching a video of him throwing against air supports that. Game review sullyies that view. The scheme was a predicate factor in the 75%+ comp % he posted Saturday. No way to argue otherwise. He went 21 of 21 under 6 yards. All schemed plays or dumpoffs to wide open guys. All scheme and protection time. Almost every top 10 qb could do this. He went 50% over 10 yards. When half the throws are gimmies, and half of the half over 10 are completed that's a 75% comp % when the distribution is over 50% under 6 yards. That's not very assertive in proving he's crazy accurate. It's just saying an NFL qb did what was expected under 6, and underperformed +10yds and was buoyed by the fact the distribution was so heavy under 6yards. That's screams scheme, and route tree distribution. Payton is a genius. Look at how brees stats spiked after joining him in nola.

    Brees does have a very fast route progression, perhaps the fastest. I've never dug that far into it. Never had to. Elite qbs make the hard throws into Windows and between players. Brees avoids this because he knows he doesn't have the chops to make that throw. Sure its smart, but it speaks to how his lack of physical ability limits the play call. Payton knows this, and calls the short stuff until he gets the other team napping, like he did the lions. Payton would love to call more deep stuff I'm sure, but can't. It's why the saints are a "second half" team. They need the scheme to open up the defense and create wide open guys for brees to hit. Like the throw where meachem had to stop from a full sprint to catch. Underthrown by 15 yards. The scheme gets them wide open. Brees just cherry picks once they are.. brees needs this scheme more than it needs him.
  4. iwatt's Avatar
    I hear what you say, but let's look at how other QB's performed under Sean Payton, accuracy wise.

    Drew Bledsoe had at best a 60.1% completion rate in Dallas under Payton as the playcaller. An uptake on his career average, but not nearly as impressive as Brees' number.

    Vinny Testaverde had a 60.0%, also a good season for him, but not even near his best season in the Jets where he had 66.7%.

    Even back in the Giants season, Kerry Collins never made it to 60% completion when Payton was making the calls.

    Your biggest knock on Brees is that he is a system QB. In that case, he is the perfect fit for that system because no one else has even come near performing at his level. His lowest completion percentage was 64%, and that coming out of shoulder surgey and his first year under that scheme. In the last three years he has hit over 68% of his passes.

    And even looking at his time in San Diego, even under Shotty he was hitting 65% of his passes those last 2 seasons. And Rivers replaced him hitting 61.7%.

    I stand by my "crazy accurate" position.


    This reply is digging into ancient history, in the not for long league. The league has changed immensely since 1999 when you started the history lesson with Collins. Rule changes that favor the receivers and qbs have been instituted, along with the current philosophy of throwing the ball more and spreading the field, leading to a higher number of attempts. To paraphrase your last reply, payton helped a 41yr old wash out (testaverde), a not very good ever qb in Collins, and a severely injury riddled cast off in bledsoe achieve some of the highest completion percentages of their careers under his tutelage? Add to that in 97 he was filling the same role for them as Dallas, and coached Ty detmer, bobby hoying, and Rodney peete to a 4009 yd passing year. Unheard of that long ago, esp considering the terrible qbs mentioned. Payton has a very long track record of making qbs numbers better with his system, it goes back 15 years in the NFL. Are you arguing my point or yours? Brees is much better because of payton. I agree. Moving on...

    Saying rivers # regressed on just the comp% not taking into account everything about that offense when he replaced brees is viewing it thru a limited prism. Comp% went down bc ypa went up. It went up because the defense had to respect the threat of the deep ball more, bc rivers has an actual NFL arm. As a result the run game increased by almost 500yds. Football is a game of many moving parts that are totally symbiotic.

    First year with payton brees yardage went up by almost 1000 yds. A byproduct of payton calling his offense with no prohibitions for the first time ever. The first time he ever got to be the end game decision maker. I commented about previous seasons only to further enhance the genius his system has become not being buttoned down and lorded over by callahan, or parcells. Pure unadulterated payton started in nola. As the years have progressed, so has the system, so has the skill of the playmakers, so has the stats of the qb. Brees was automatically 1000 yds better because of the scheme with no difference in comp%. I've never doubted brees' ability to complete passes. That's black and white. He completes them at a high clip. I can't debate that, what I'm debating is why.

    It's the scheme, plain and simple, with a plethora of short passes that pump that number. Watching the last 2 games should have shown that to everyone who watched the games. Long passes are mostly on blown coverages and guys wide open based on the schematically crafted route trees. The few that weren't were underthrown, for the most part. You said yourself, payton makes below average guys much better. I agree. We both agree brees is above average in his ability to get the ball out quick, being able to scan the field and find an open guy, and his leadership abilities. None of that addresses my contention of brees holding this scheme back. Brees regresses outdoors, especially below 40 degrees. That fact has stung the saints everytime they weren't in the dome for a playoff game. That speaks quite simply to his lack of arm strength. He can't make the tough throws in an adverse environment. There were so many passes behind the line Saturday it was nuts. That limits this scheme.

    Brees is a top 10 qb, he's not top 3. People place him there based on volume stats, and scheme superiority. Likewise many are pushed down the list based on the opposite.

    Let's get back to our point of contention. Tell me how brees does better in this scheme than rodgers, Brady, roethlisberger, or a healthy peyton manning. I'd venture to say rivers, e. Manning, vick, Cutler, or stafford would be much more productive. They all can thread the needle. All can throw a strong 7 or 9 route. All can be as efficient, its not like brees is the bastion of no picks.
  5. iwatt's Avatar
    Payton didn't make them much more accurate than they had already proven to be. He didn't have them jump more than 1% from their historic best.

    And Brees record on the road seems tarnished, but it would look a lot better if somebody actually tried tackling Lynch, or his players decided to hold on to footballs on a dry and sunny day in the Bay area. Or if Nick Kaeding could kick a clutch field goal.

    Regarding how other QBs would do in this system:

    I would say that Brady would excel, because he scans the field almost as quickly as Brees does, and he has a better arm. So would Peyton, if he deigned to allow somebody else to play calls for him.

    Rodgers and Roethlisberger would have to downplay their strengths playing in this scheme. Nobody throws better on the move than Rodgers, and nobody extends plays better than Ben. They have both looked good in the pocket, but they haven't shown Brees' quick scan ability. They excel at playing QB because defenses have to respect their ability to make plays outside the pocket. Vick, though less effective than both of them, benefits of the same defensive attention that opens up things downfield. These are all players who need the long ball and the running threat to keep defenses honest. It's not a knock on them, by the way, they have their own way of winning.

    Eli still sails his passes sometimes, and takes a long time to find the open guy. He is almost as rigid as Brady, and not as smart or quick with the release as Brees. He would fit OK in this system, but his lack of accuracy would hurt him, specially in the screen game, where he either sails or throws passes low, hurting his YAC average.

    I love Cutler's arm. But I'm not sure he can resist throwing into windows that are too tight, making him to high risk/reward for a system like Payton's. He also has some trouble with the short touch passes, though not as much as the others with all the practice his crap OL has given him.

    There is an art to the short touch pass. Just ask Tebow. The screen game is dependent on perfect release, and avoidance of DLmen batting down balls. Somehow the 5'11" Brees makes it work.

    You seem to knock him for not having enough deep ball strength. I think his short game accuracy is off the charts, because you require touch and precision to excel at it.


    Peyton didn't initially spike brees' stats either, they grew as the scheme did. In the previous examples you used it was qbs who spent very little time under payton. In a scheme that wasn't 100% paytons brain child. All were influenced by outsiders. Brees benefited from the bachelors edition of his scheme, then as it evolved, the doctorate edition as is now employed. The scheme is sick and unparalleled.

    As far as how others would fare in this scheme, Brady and a healthy pm would eclipse everything brees has accomplished. That's fact. Neither are scheme adverse. They can make all the reads and throws and adjustments. Both are simply better qbs.

    Rodgers and roethlisberger would bring a different dimension to this scheme. You seemed to pigeon hole their qb ability with your last post. Rodgers seems to be the incumbent mvp. Both guys create bc their o line sucks. Brees doesn't have that issue. He can drop and plant, to throw an under 5 yd pass impeccably.

    Regular season wise, rodgers was an unmitigated beast. Slightly less accurate, but with a way higher ypa. Rodgers is better than brees, and better in this scheme.

    As far as Ben, you speak to his "need" to throw down field. Wrong guy to make that statement to. Ben plays in the scheme he's in. The poorly called scheme, I might add. He makes the throws he's told to, until its the hurry up offense. Ben doesn't NEED the deep ball. His oc calls it, and schemes that highlight it. Please refer to the pats or titans games this year if you have any qualms about Ben playing in a possession scheme. He had monster days both times. Not bens fault his oc is daft.

    Both Ben and rodgers can adeptly run paytons scheme, but they add the ability to throw the tough routes, and downfield that brees can't. Plus when a play is busted, they can free lance to make something out of nothing. Brees can't do that.

    Little manning can make all the throws too. His comp % sucks bc he's always taking deep stabs. Let him throw 20+ times under 5 yards for 5 years and he would quit sailing them, or throwing them short. All muscle memory. But he still throws that hail Mary, and any 7 or 9 route. Brees can't.

    You didn't mention rivers. He had a way down year from his norm. However his raw skills are above brees too. As a 1st yr starter he led a better offense. No reason to think he couldn't do the same in nola. Better coaches, significantly better qb oriented scheme. And it wouldn't be hamstrung in play calls. Every throw is open game, same for every qb I mentioned previous sans brees. Brees needs this system more than the system needs him. He's afforded top tier status, when every top tier guy would out perform him in this scheme, given his physical limitations.

    We could debate the other qbs I mentioned ad nauseam, and still have no consensus on them. But the fact there's a debate merits mentioning. Great debate iwatt, its been lots of fun, but I think were at an impasse. We need to agree to disagree on this last point and post our discussion for all of FP to weigh in on.
  6. Polishguy00's Avatar
    That was fantastic, guys. Just fantastic.
  7. iwatt's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Polishguy00
    That was fantastic, guys. Just fantastic.
    Thanks, we had a blast working on it. Thank god we went private message and took time for me to come back with studied responses.

    I thinke we made a better job than First Take. Of course, my nephew flinging poo at his puppy would do better than Bayless and CO.
  8. Ragar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by iwatt
    Thanks, we had a blast working on it. Thank god we went private message and took time for me to come back with studied responses.

    I thinke we made a better job than First Take. Of course, my nephew flinging poo at his puppy would do better than Bayless and CO.
    Nobody does crtazy over the top ignorant better then Brainless.

    Good stuff you two
  9. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
    Thanks guys. We both had a ton of fun with this debate. We've talked of members doing this type of debate regularly in the off season. I'm all for it. I'll do this type of debate weekly, just know you're getting my replies late at night.

    Iwatt, we need to post this in the forum. Most here don't regularly read the blogs. I don't, I know that. I only saw it bc I cycled thru the forum posts, and its still early for me, so I dug into the blogs before I went to other football sites..
  10. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by iwatt
    Thanks, we had a blast working on it. Thank god we went private message and took time for me to come back with studied responses.

    I thinke we made a better job than First Take. Of course, my nephew flinging poo at his puppy would do better than Bayless and CO.
    Pm was clutch in making this such a great debate. Iwatt threw me a couple curves I wasn't expecting. It's why it was such a great discussion. We both had time to reflect and post the most apt reply.

    And of course it was better than first take!!! ESPN sucks! Their talking heads as so not credible and uneducated in their views its sick. It's why I haven't watched that network for anything but mnf, for years..
  11. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
    BTW iwatt, glad u made me ogre from revenge of the nerds!! U want to have a belching contest next? Perhaps a tricycle race where we chug beers in between laps? Maybe a stairs diving event into a blow up pool full of beer? Great movie, can't stop laughing!!!!

    Updated 01-19-2012 at 03:25 AM by mikesteelnation1
  12. jwmann2's Avatar
    I say both. He wasn't posting those kind of numbers in San Diego. Then again, he was a young QB back then. But look at the receivers he has made look like all-stars. Henderson, Moore, Meachem, Colston. Those guys would be the 3 and 4 receivers on other [URL=""]NFL[/URL] teams.
  13. mikesteelnation1's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jwmann2
    I say both. He wasn't posting those kind of numbers in San Diego. Then again, he was a young QB back then. But look at the receivers he has made look like all-stars. Henderson, Moore, Meachem, Colston. Those guys would be the 3 and 4 receivers on other NFL teams.
    Fair point. But that's in lieu of the scheme. Dig deeper. It's the scheme. Not the players. They're the beneficiaries of said scheme.. this scheme is dependent on equal distribution of the rock. You're post further proves my contention of brees needing this scheme. The skill guys would be held in higher regard w a qb that isn't so limited... With a deep threat it opens everything up. NFL teams know what I do... Brees can't go deep. It limits the play call....
  14. Colts01's Avatar
    Good stuff iwatt and Mike. + ponts for the Revenge of the nerds pic!
  15. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
    Finally had the chance to read through this. Fantastic stuff, guys. Love the format.

    The point I've made before is that no one understands his own limitations better than Brees, and no coach seems to be more in tune with his QB's strengths than Payton. It's a testament to both. Brees is great because of that, and I hate to diminish his greatness in any way. But most of the QBs Mike mentioned would have a smoother transition into Payton's system than Brees would into theirs, and there are definitely accomodations that need to be made based on his limitations. Does that make him less great? I'm not ready to say that, as everyone needs to have a full grasp of their own abilities to become truly great at anything they do. But if Brees had chosen Chicago as a FA destination instead of NO, I don't think there would have been a need for this discussion.
  16. MRjimvinbur's Avatar
    ‎ ... [url][/url] ... [url][/url] OBAMA iN 2012 [url][/url] OBAMA [url][/url] iN 2012 [url][/url] ... [url][/url] THE DO [url][/url] ABSOLUTELY [url][/url] NOTHiNG [url][/url] REPUBLiCANS [url][/url] ALL HAVE [url][/url] COMMiTTED [url][/url] POLiTiCAL SUiCiDE4 2012 [url][/url] THE UN-RE-ELECTABLE BiGTiME LAZYASS CRYBABY [url][/url] JOHN [url][/url] BOEHNER [url][/url] & THE UN-MOTiVATED [url][/url] UN-RE-ELECTABLE WELL KNOWN [url][/url] DASTARDLY WEAK MiNDED [url][/url] SORRYASS QUiTTER [url][/url] ERiC [url][/url] CANTOR [url][/url] & OLD DUMBASS [url][/url] iT'S TiME 2RETiRE [url][/url] MiTCH McCONNELL [url][/url] "iNHERiT THE WiND" [url][/url] YOU ARE DEFiNiTELY GOiNG 2BOW DOWN [url][/url] -BELiEVE- YOUR OBSTRUCTiONiSM [url][/url] & DO ABSOLUTELY [url][/url] NOTHiNG LAST DAYS [url][/url] ARE MOST ASSUREDLY NUMBERED [url][/url] iT iS PERMANENTLY ENGRAVED iN STONE [url][/url] DAMN RiTE! [url][/url] ...OBAMA A MAN [url][/url] F0R ALL [url][/url] THE PEOPLE [url][/url] iN 2012 [url][/url] ( [url][/url] THiS iS Willard "AD-MiTT" iT ROMNEY [url][/url] Secret OFFSHORE 8 Billion Dollar Stash From His Corrupt Family's Eight Billion Dollar Ponzi Scheme [url][/url] DAMN RiTE [url][/url] ) [url][/url] ... [url][/url] ... [url][/url] ... [url][/url] ... [url][/url] ... [url][/url] ...