Brees: Job is to direct Saints, not rack up air yards

Brees: Job is to direct Saints, not rack up air yards

Drew Brees chuckled Monday when asked about the growing narrative that he is showing signs of decline to start his 20th NFL season.

“Well, my job is to execute the offense. … My job’s not to have the most air yards or throw the ball down the field most or anything like that,” the New Orleans Saints quarterback said after his team flopped in several areas during a 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football.

“I think I’ve always evaluated myself on being a great decision-maker. And so, at the end of the day, I’ll throw the ball to the open guy, move the ball down the field, score points, help us win football games. So that’s my job,” Brees said. “My job’s to help us win. My job’s to help put everyone around me in the best position to succeed.”

However, the numbers show a noteworthy trend. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Brees’ average of 4.82 air yards on passes this season is the lowest of any quarterback through two games since Brett Favre in 2009.

As ESPN analysts Louis Riddick and Brian Griese pointed out after Monday’s loss, Brees has looked less comfortable in the pocket and hasn’t been as “surgical” as usual on short and intermediate throws. Brees, 41, has completed just 44 of 68 passes this season (64.7%) after topping 74% each of the past two seasons (the two most accurate seasons in NFL history).

Brees completed 26 of 38 attempts for 312 yards and one touchdown with one interception Monday. His first interception of the season was a costly one just before halftime, turning a potential scoring drive into a game-tying field goal for the Raiders.

“Are we totally in sync right now? No, we’re not. We’re not even close to where we are capable of. Not even close,” said Brees, who was missing his security blanket in receiver Michael Thomas, who missed his first game in four years because of an ankle injury. “We did some good things early on, but it just wasn’t enough for the few opportunities that we had.”

The Saints (1-1) will have to try to get back in sync on a short week before they host the Green Bay Packers (2-0) on Sunday Night Football.

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