Saints 26, Eagles 24: Drew Brees Says 'Enough Of This B.S.'
By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Easy Breesy Beautiful Cover Girl
Let's get right to what we learned from Sunday's matinee, which had less freakish drama but more great football.
1. Now that Drew Brees has canceled one crap perception, he can attack another – that he’s a half-step behind Brady and Manning.
If there was anything dumber than the “Brees can’t win on the road in the playoffs” debate, I don’t know what it was. Over those three he-can’t-wins, the guy put up 400+ yards a game and turned it over three times in 172 throws -- 57 ATTEMPTS A GAME!!!!!!
Complete, absolute, unadulterated bullshit.
So now, thanks to the Saints’ 26-24 win in the second end of a classic double feature, he doesn’t have to hear it anymore.
With three more wins, he can take another rightful place – in the discussion with Manning and Brady for best of this era.
Brees’ numbers are more or less dead ringers for Brady’s – their passer ratings are .4 apart – and his year average numbers are right on with Manning’s with Manning three years ahead.
Sunday, Brees’ line wasn’t great. He threw two picks, one the receiver’s fault, one his fault. He missed a couple throws. But on the road, in the cold, with a mostly neutered Jimmy Graham (3 catches), he was still brilliant.
This is a guy who’s more one-man team than almost any of the great ones; no triplets for Brees, no great defenses for Brees. And in the playoffs, he’s got a passer rating over 100 – something Brady (87.4) and Manning (88.4) can’t touch.
He’s also got a lot more potential left in that body – other than the shoulder injury that led the Chargers to give up on him, he’s been pretty clean, and at 34 could play 6-7 more years in today’s NFL.
When it’s all said and done, who’s to say he won’t be the one with three rings, all the passing records and the mythical (farcical) title of the best ever?
2. As far as home playoff losses go, this one stings a lot less than most.
When you change everything, go from 4-12 to 10-6, and develop a terrific, consistent offense behind a 24-year-old quarterback, 25-year-old running back and 27-year-old receiver, there’s a lot to be happy about.
The Chip Kelly Show sounds like a freak act, but it shares a lot more with the kind of quiet, smart, chain-moving the Belichick-Brady Patriots have employed the last half-decade. And that, Patriots fans know, is a ticket to 10 wins a year almost regardless of what the defense brings.
Almost the entire Eagle core will be back next year – Riley Cooper is the most notable free agent – and while the defense wasn’t exactly good, the likely addition of all defense with the top draft choices is going to help a lot.
If you had to buy stock in a team with the hopes of cashing out in say, three years time, you could do a lot worse than the Eagles. And a lot of that is because of the Foles-Kelly connection; when a coaching staff and the QB are on the same page, they rise above their individual levels, and I think that’s what you saw this year. The good news is, that’s not going anywhere – if anything, the confidence that’s being built, yard by yard, is only going to grow.
Even the notorious Eagle fan won’t spend too much time dwelling on this one. There’s too much good news ahead.
3. Narratives are dumb. Sometimes, both teams just play great.
This was just an extremely good football game.
While the Colts-Chiefs game was sure exciting, it wasn’t exactly a clinic on how the game is supposed to be played – but this one was chess match, streetfight, last-second field goal, shake hands, job well done.
No fumbles, no real “brain fart” mistakes, no one pointing fingers after blown coverages. In a league where “do your job” is the main mantra, these teams did theirs well.
New Orleans used its offense as its best defense, running it 36 times, winning the first-down battle 26-17. Philly ran its offense the way it likes to, but New Orleans made more plays on third-down D. And when the Saints went a man down in the secondary, the Eagles pounced like good teams do.
Did Nick Foles “not know how to finish the job”? Hardly. He was perfect (again) with no turnovers. Did Brees “finally get the Saints over the road hump?” It was the worst of his last three road efforts in the playoffs by any measure.
It’s all blather. Real fans know a great game when they see one, and when it’s over they tip their cap.
In the end, the difference was a missed field goal, 48 yards by Philly’s Alex Henery. One kick, and the fates are different. In the playoffs, that’s about all you can ask.
NOTES WHILE FOOTBALLING
Saints DE Cameron Jordan is one of those guys that you don't really get yet. He had 1.5 sacks Saturday, and his growth this year under Rob Ryan is the clear reason this team can all of a sudden, you know, play actual defense. Holding the Eagles to 4.5 yards a play was pretty impressive. ...
So, Saints-Seahawks, huh? While Seattle fans might have been (privately) happy to avoid any possibility of the 49ers coming to town, prior success vs. a team doesn't mean much in the playoffs. Ask the Indy D, who thought they had nothing to worry about with the Chiefs. ...
Not a good day for Andy Reid superfans in Penn. You know, they still love the old guy, they watch him get his poor heart broken ... and then get their own hearts broken. Somewhere, a guy with a picture of him and Reid together framed above his mantlepiece is quietly weeping ...
The Saints' big problem on the road has been turnovers (-6 in the regular season, +6 at home), and another -2 next week wouldn't be a great idea. Then again, Arizona just went to Seattle and went -2 with a win, so it's not out of the realm of possibility. ...
I know he went 4-for-4 Saturday, but Shayne Graham's status as "on his ninth team," along with historic playoff misses, is enough to make you get the puke bucket ready if your a Saints fan. Not right near you, maybe, but tucked away behind the sofa just in case.
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