We are now 9 weeks into the football season and we can begin to see who’s looking like the favorites as far as awards go for the end of the year. The biggest question of ’em all is who’s going to come out on top as the Most Valuable Player. Well, as of right now if you ask anybody who watches football, they’d say either Mahomes or Gurley—which clearly isn’t wrong. Personally, I believe so far this year’s MVP is Gurley.
But if there’s one person who should be appreciated in this race more its Drew Brees.
Let’s take a look at how these two compare to each other.
Record: 7-1; comp.: 213 (7th); comp. pct.: 76.3% (1st); yards: 2,336 (12th); avg.: 8.4 (6th); yds./gm.: 292 (11th); INT: 1 (T-1st); QBR: 120.6 (2nd)
Record: 8-1; comp.: 210 (9th); comp. pct.: 66.2% (14th); yards: 2,901 (1st); 9.2 (3rd); yds./gm.: 322 (2nd); INT: 7 (T-8th); QBR: 116 (5th)
These numbers don’t look that far apart in most categories, but when you look at the personnel on the field, it makes a big difference. With Mahomes, he has been set up in a pretty good position for this offense.
I’m just going to rattle off some names in the offense… Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, and (I may be stretching) Sammy Watkins. Now, you’re looking at this and seeing some pretty relevant household names (forgive me for saying Sammy Watkins, just wait). Now, going back to just last year, let’s see how this team impacted the offense without Mahomes. Hill finished his sophomore season with 75 catches for 1183 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. He also added 59 yards on 17 carries. Hill is looked at as the number 1 receiver on the depth chart, so that means he’s got to be the guy to go to when you’re in need of a big play, right? Well not exactly. I’m not taking anything away from Hill because he can sure take the top off of any defense, but the guy is 5’10” so when it comes down to those 50/50 balls, he’s not really the guy you want to be throwing to. At least compared to someone along the lines of Michael Thomas, Odell, or AJ Green. Hill is the fastest player in the league, and there’s only a handful of guys like him, which is why he’s so special.
Remember when I said Hill isn’t the guy you wanna be throwing 50/50 balls to? To be honest with you, it doesn’t matter if he can’t go up for them because they STILL have Travis Kelce. Kelce is an absolute monster whenever he steps on the field and is probably the second best tight end in the league (Gronk still the GOAT). Not only does he have such a big body, but the man lines up like he’s a receiver and sometimes there’s just nothing you can do about it. There are only a couple of things that may benefit you more with having Kelce on your team compared to Gronk—that being said, his athleticism and lack of injury are why he has been such a factor in this league. Kelce has played almost every game in each of his seasons since coming into the league in 2013. The reason I say almost is that his rookie year he only played once. From then on, has only missed one game, last year. I’m not quite to sure what the reasoning was but if it was only one game I could see it being just for rest. Last year, Kelce finished with 83 catches for 1,083 yards and 8 touchdowns, which was the most he’s had in any season. Through 9 games this year he already has 6 touchdowns.
Kareem Hunt is currently one of the top backs in the league, and there’s no question about that. You may think, “Well, he’s not going to have as much as an impact on Mahomes’ throwing sheet compared with Kelce or Hill,” but that doesn’t mean he’s not still opening up the offense by just being out there. Hunt picked up right where he left off last year, finishing the season with 272 rushes for 1,327 yards (led the league) and 8 touchdowns while still averaging a pretty 4.9 YPC. He added 455 yards and 53 receptions for 3 touchdowns in the receiving game. This year, Hunt already has 6 receiving touchdowns and 321 yards on only 21 receptions. So yes, it looks like Mahomes has helped increase the numbers on the offense. But let’s not shy away from the fact that most of Hunt’s receiving stats come from little screens and dump-offs when Mahomes is in trouble. I’m not taking anything away from Mahomes in this because I absolutely love him, he’s honestly one of a kind to me from what I’ve seen from him this year. I mean, the guy’s throwing the ball with his left hand and slinging sidearm balls, just something you don’t see that often.
Long story short I think you get my point, Andy Reid is notorious for his quarterbacks, just look at what Alex Smith did last year in the same position.
Moving onto Brees. He has been amazing this year, at age 39 and still showing no signs of slowing down. I actually think since the fact that Brees doesn’t have the weaponry Mahomes, or even any other QB, does with a solid receiving core, it gives him the heads up to be careful with the ball, and may I just say he has been solid at just that. Scroll up to see for yourself.
Now, its time to rattle off some names in the Saints offense… Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Tre’Quan Smith, Ben Watson, and Cam Meredith, Austin Carr (Ginn on IR, don’t forget that). I left out Ingram just because Kamara looks like the clear number 1 and they would be stupid to take any carries away from him. Just look at those names compared to the Chiefs. Right off the bat, you can tell the chiefs offensive core outranks the saints, giving Brees less to work with. Brees is just seeing the field differently this year, he knows where he wants to go with the ball almost instantly and can read a defense like a nursery book, just a savvy veteran.
Michael Thomas has been a terror for defenses since he came into the NFL and may just be the second-best pass catcher in the league after Hopkins. He’s topped off two 1,000-yard seasons already and is already on pace for a career-best in almost all categories. This man has an 88% catch rate—I repeat, an 88% catch rate—and with Drew Brees throwing him the ball, I don’t see that number moving down too much for the remainder of the season. So far this season, Thomas has recorded 880 yards on 70 catches and 5 touchdowns. Fun fact: he’s been thrown to 79 times…. the ball sticks to this guy like a fucking leach. It’s actually wild.
Now, Kamara has been nothing but electric all season with 12 touchdowns from scrimmage and 490 yards on 111 carries. Just another quick fun fact: Kamara had 720 yards on only 120 carries last year—absolutely baffling. All in all though, really, only two of those names actually grasp your attention from this Saints offense.
I’m finally going to say why I included Sammy Watkins in the names I talked about earlier and that is because he is technically the 4th option in the offense. So why is this important? Well, as the fourth option on the team, you may not think he’s going to be much of a factor, but he’s accounted for 3 touchdowns and is averaging 50 yards a game which is still pretty beneficial from your 4th option. Brees, on the other hand, lost his second option to the IR just a couple of weeks ago. His fourth option in the passing game is Austin Carr, a second-year wideout who has just 5 catches for 62 yards. Just something to think about.
Another thing is that Brees just put the NFL on notice after handing the Rams their first loss, in fashion. He knew from the start of that game that he wasn’t going to be able to focus on the run game and had to stay with that high-scoring Rams offense by throwing the ball. Brees may not be chucking the ball like Mahomes, but he’s still been putting his team in the best position to win week in and week out.
Put it this way. You could make a list of quarterbacks that would thrive in the Kansas City’s offense, but I don’t think the same goes for the Saints. Especially if you switched just these two. I bet Brees could match most of those numbers he’s trailing Mahomes in, such as total passing yards or yards per game. You put Mahomes in the Saints offense and he’s going to have worse numbers than he does right now. Like I said, still a top-tier QB, but not how he’s performing now. Brees is a Hall of Famer, no doubt about that. But there’s one thing he’s yet to accomplish, becoming the league’s Most Valuable Player. The man is on a mission.