Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The metamorphosis of Drew Brees .. into Aaron Brooks

You saw the familiar lame duck throw late last year, against Washington. Saints QB Drew Brees gently lofted the ball over the line of scrimmage - and it was picked off. It was a play Saints fans had got accustomed to over the past 5 years. After all, he was New Orleans Saints' all time leader in touchdown passes with 120. He also played for the Green Bay Packers behind Brett Favre for a time.

In 2001 he emerged as NFL's top quarterbacks with 98 touchdown tosses over that span and over 3,500 yards each season. Has 16 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, including five in 2004. His name was Aaron Brooks.
Brees is slowly, but surely, turning into him. The bad decisions, the completely lame interceptions. Brooks is the only Saints quarterback to rush for over 100 yards in a contest (108 vs. San Francisco, 2000-12-10). In 2004, Brooks set club marks for attempts (60) and completions (34) in a contest. The good days, not unlike last year for Brees and the Saints, came very early. After that it was a slow and agonized descent.
The transformation has been painful. To be sure, this 0-3 after the Titans forced 5 turnovers isn't completely Bree's fault. The offensive line's protection struggles have derailed the deep passing game. The running game was on empty, even before Deuce McAllister's knee injury. Brooks' decision making, exhibit A being the infamous backwards pass thrown to an offensive lineman in a 2004 loss in San Diego, was the last straw according to New Orleans fans. To exacerbate the problem, Brooks wore a cavalier attitude, a broad smile shone across his face after each of his mistakes. Drew Brees, considering the juxtaposition of his play against that which had been witnessed during the six years Aaron Brooks wore the black and gold, was heaven sent - for a while.
And head coach Sean Peyton — who could seemingly do no wrong with his play-calling in 2006 — can't call a first down much less a touchdown.
Brees connected with favorite target Marques Colston a few times but nobody else stood out. After finishing 10-6 in 2000 (including their first playoff win, against nemesis St. Louis Rams)in 2001, the Saints only went 7-9. It's a familiar refrain for the Saints. Was last year's 10-6 season a fluke? Is Brees a fluke? Should he be benched? The backup quarterback Jamie Martin has been known to throw the deep ball, and that's all the Saints need to get defenders to play them honest. Brees has been afraid to throw deep this year for some reason. Is his shoulder alright? Questions abound.
Last year, Brees had a productive year. He threw a league-leading 4,418 passing yards, finished third in the league with 26 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions and a 96.2 passer rating. This year he'll be lucky to get 20 TDs to go with his 13 projected INTS. Brooks played in only eight games during the Oakland Raiders' dismal 2-14 season last year. Oakland ended the season with nine straight losses, and Brooks was often seen running for his life. On February 22nd, 2007, the Oakland Raiders declined to reinstate Brooks for a second season. He is now out of football entirely. What's wrong with Drew Brees? He now leads the league with seven interceptions (SEVEN) to only one touchdown. Two of his errant passes have been TDs for the other team. What's wrong with Drew Brees, and is the metamorphosis complete? Because if he changes into Bobby Hebert I'm leaping off the bandwagon.

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