|Brees back on pace for a big season with pass-happy Saints|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 07 November 2007 15:06|
``I'm in season,'' Brees said with a grin, when asked about the launch of ``Vintage Brees Chardonnay'' this week at one of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurants in New Orleans.
Brees was referring to the fact that he kept his own drinking to a minimum at the wine tasting, given his responsibilities on the football field these days.
Yet he could have been talking about his form on the field, coming off a game in which he completed 35 passes to nine players for 455 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-24 triumph over Jacksonville.
That was the kind of performance Brees turned in repeatedly in 2006, when he led the NFL in passing with 4,418 yards.
So confident was head coach Sean Payton in Brees' ability to deliver an assortment of throws around the field, he called 49 passing plays and 25 running plays against the Jaguars.
``We try to look at each game and plan the best way we feel like is going to give us a chance to score points and move the ball,'' Payton said. ``Each week, the plan can vary some based on the opponent.''
Brees' targets last Sunday were receivers Marques Colston, David Patten, Devery Henderson and Lance Moore; tight ends Eric Johnson and Billy Miller; and running backs Reggie Bush, Aaron Stecker and Mike Karney.
``We want to spread the ball all around. Obviously, we want to get Reggie involved in the run game and also in the pass game - mix in those other running backs, spread the ball to our receivers,'' Brees said. ``A lot of those short pass plays are an extension of the run game. There's probably 10 plays that coach can call in his mind that are just like a run play. Guaranteed completion is what we always talk about. Get it in one of our guys' hands and let him get some run after the catch.''
Even during the Saints' opening four losses, Brees was completing about 60 percent of his throws, surpassing 200 yards in every game except the opener at Indianapolis, when he had 192 yards passing. He's thrown for 2,175 yards this season, putting him on pace for more then 4,300 yards again.
Early this season, Brees was plagued by interceptions, something he blamed on the Saints falling behind by multiple scores in three of their losses. That forced him to make risky throws in an attempt to get his team back in games.
Brees threw nine interceptions and only one touchdown pass during the first four games. He's had one pass intercepted and thrown 11 touchdown passes during the current four-game winning streak, which has the Saints (4-4) in position to tie for the NFC South lead with a victory over winless St. Louis on Sunday.
``I feel like it's all coming together,'' Brees said. ``In order for the passing game to work, it's not one guy. It's not Drew Brees. It's the offensive line, it's the receivers getting open, it's the guys making the right reads according to coverage. It's me obviously knowing where the ball's going. ... Everybody is doing their job and that's what it takes.''
While Brees is getting the ball to numerous teammates, Colston (44 catches, 507 yards, 5 TDs) and Patten (24 catches, 422 yards, 1 TD) have been the clear leaders.
Colston was expected to perform well after a rookie season that saw the former Hofstra receiver go from seventh-round obscurity in the NFL draft to the leader of the Saints' receiving corps.
``He's a stud. He's a guy we're trying to find ways to get the ball to all the time,'' Brees said. ``We've got a lot of weapons, though. You look at what David Patten has done, (Terrance) Copper stepping up when he needs to, Devery Henderson the same way, Lance Moore. I can't say enough about those guys. Obviously, Colston is really coming along.''
It's been a renaissance of sorts for Patten, an 11-year veteran who had only one catch for 25 yards last season in five games for Washington. He was cut during the offseason.
Patten had four catches for 81 yards and a score against Jacksonville, turning one short pass in the right flat into a slashing, 36-yard gain.
``Drew throws completion after completion. Guys are in the right spots, making catches and turning upfield and making plays,'' Patten said. ``We are in no way shocked or surprised about it. This is what we expect.''