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Brees again has wind at his back

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Brees again has wind at his back By Kathleen Nelson ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 11/10/2007 Drew Brees tosses a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during a game at Monster Park Oct. 28, 2007. (Getty Images) When a team loses its ...

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Old 11-10-2007, 09:17 PM   #1
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Brees again has wind at his back

Brees again has wind at his back
By Kathleen Nelson

Drew Brees tosses a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during a game at Monster Park Oct. 28, 2007.
(Getty Images)

When a team loses its first four games and wins its next four, the obvious question is "What changed?"

"I've only answered this one about 30 times, so I'll give you the standard answer," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said on a conference call with area media. "Early on, we were just making things a lot more complicated then they need to be. Any time you have expectations, you try to go out and maybe be a little too perfect instead of just going out and relaxing and playing football like we know how. After those first four losses, I think we all just kind of regrouped and got back to doing what we do best, having fun and slinging it around a little bit."

The turnaround query is the latest in a series of questions that Brees has answered repeatedly in his career. In each case, his actions on the field should have spoken for themselves.

The first: Would he make it in college? Brees arrived at Purdue with two other freshmen quarterbacks who were vying to become heir to senior Billy Dicken, who led Purdue to its first bowl victory in 17 years. Rams offensive coordinator Greg Olson was the Boilermakers' QB coach at the time and said Brees easily separated himself from the others "because of his accuracy. He was very intelligent, but he also had good football instincts."

Brees was Big Ten player of the year in 1998 and 2000, a Heisman finalist in 1999 and 2000 and led Purdue to the Rose Bowl in 2000, its first appearance since 1967.

The second: Was he big enough to play in the NFL? Olson said both Brees and Michael Vick measured 6-0 at the 2001 NFL scouting combine, but only Brees had to deal with the height issue. Vick was the first pick overall. Brees went to the Chargers in the second round.

"It bothered Drew. It disappointed everybody at Purdue," Olson said. "I thought it was a no-brainer that Drew would be a first-rounder."

Brees endured the struggles of a rebuilding franchise but made the Pro Bowl in 2004, when the Chargers finished 12-4. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2005, when he suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Which leads to the third question: Could he recover from a career-threatening shoulder injury? The Chargers thought not and released him. The Saints picked him up and Brees made an immediate impact on and off the field. He led the Saints to a 10-6 record and the NFC championship game. He was selected to the AP's All-Pro team and shared the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award with former teammate LaDanian Tomlinson for their charitable efforts. Brees centered on New Orleans' revival after Hurricane Katrina.

"We know we have an even bigger responsibility than maybe just your average, ordinary NFL team anywhere else," Brees said. "When the Saints are winning, you lift so many spirits, you give so many people hope."

But spirits sagged when the Saints lost their first four games this season. Brees seemed to lose his touch. His quarterback rating hovered in the 50s, and he threw just one touchdown and nine interceptions.

"When you're behind 28 points, any quarterback's job description becomes a lot more difficult," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "When we fell behind to Indianapolis in the second half and to Tampa Bay at halftime, it's hard to function being that one-dimensional. As the games have gotten closer and we've been able to clean up some of the things that were hurting us — you've seen the improvement in his play."

In the last four games, Brees has thrown 11 TD passes and one interception and was named NFC player of the week after a 31-10 victory over the 49ers on Oct. 28. In the Saints' 41-24 victory Sunday over the Jaguars, Brees completed 35 of 49 for 445 yards and three TDs. His turnaround coincides with the team's, but don't apply a twist on the old adage and think that as Brees goes, so go the Saints.

"There are so many factors that go into being successful as a quarterback," he said. "Especially offensively, the 10 guys around you have to be doing their job. I think especially with this offense there is a lot put in my hands, so even in the run game and obviously in the passing I have to be very efficient and clear on what I'm seeing and make sure I'm putting us in good positions as far as the type of plays we want to be running against certain defenses. Yes, I do have a lot of responsibility, but it's obviously a lot of other guys involved in that, as well."

knelson@post-dispatch.com | 314-340-8233
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Old 11-11-2007, 08:55 AM   #2
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Re: Brees again has wind at his back

The mention of he and Vick reminded me of something. Brees has surpeised me on a few plays this year with his running ability. There's been a couple of times that he managed to scramble for a first down. He's not Vick (thank God), but his mobility sometimes gets overlooked in his scouting report.
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