Saints QB Brees says he’s focused on Redskins, not record
So what else is new?
“Just another day in the life of being a teammate of Drew Brees,” said Saints running back Mark Ingram.
“He breaks records every year — always something he’s breaking, always something he’s accomplishing, always some milestone he’s setting. That’s special just to know that no one in the game has done what you’ve done.”
This latest mark is a big one. Brees could become the NFL’s all-time yards passing leader when the Saints (3-1) host the Washington Redskins (2-1) on Monday night.
Brees is 201 yards short of eclipsing Peyton Manning’s record of 71,940 yards passing.
Earlier this season, Brees surpassed Brett Favre as the NFL’s all-time completion leader — now 6,344 and counting.
In 2017, Brees’ completion rate of 72 percent set an NFL record for a single season. He also owns the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass at 54, passing Johnny Unitas’ mark of 47 in 2012.
Brees says he’ll cherish his records one day, but is more concerned with beating Washington.
“Listen, I’m just focused on making great decisions in the game, moving the football, moving the chains, getting points, winning the game,” Brees said.
The Saints’ quarterback said he’s focused on incremental goals since his NFL career began 18 years ago, and uses the word “crazy” to describe what it’s like to see his name next to all-time greats in the NFL record book.
Brees said he “never would have dreamed” of passing for more than 70,000 yards when he was selected by San Diego at the top of the second round of the 2001 draft, “But just extremely grateful, thankful obviously for the opportunity to be here and just excited about the opportunity we have for this team, for this year, this season, this game.”
Brees rarely passes for fewer than 200 yards in a game, but it’s happened — twice last season, in fact. Both of those games were lopsided Saints victories dominated by New Orleans’ ground game.
Washington has the third-ranked pass defense in the NFL, allowing 187.3 yards per game.
“I know they want to go for another 200 yards and get him that all-time passing lead, but our job is to not have that happen,” Redskins cornerback Josh Norman said. “And we’re going to do everything in our power not to.”
If Brees does break the record, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he’d “probably clap,” adding, “It’s a great accomplishment, man. Any coach or player in this league has got to have the utmost respect for what he’s accomplished in his career.”
Some other story lines surrounding Redskins-Saints:
With Mark Ingram returning from a four-game suspension, this matchup features two of the more dynamic running duos in the NFL. Last season, Ingram and Alvin Kamara became the first running back tandem in NFL history to each surpass 1,500 yards from scrimmage in a single season.
The Redskins counter with the mix-and-match potential of Adrian Peterson and third-down back Chris Thompson. Peterson has three rushing touchdowns and Thompson has averaged 5.5 yards a carry and also has a team-high 20 receptions.
Adding intrigue is the fact that Peterson played for New Orleans for the first four weeks of 2017 before being traded to Arizona.
“He’s played a lot of games in his career and I don’t think he holds any grudges,” Gruden said. “Might be a little special for him, but I doubt it. He takes every game very seriously, prepares very well and plays physical against everybody.”
The league’s earliest bye week came at a beneficial time for the Redskins with left tackle Trent Williams needing a cleanup procedure on his surgically repaired knee, left guard Shaun Lauvao battling a calf injury and Norman dealing with a hamstring problem.
The Saints enter their bye week after Monday night’s game.
Third-string quarterback Taysom Hill seems to be finding more ways to help the Saints each week. Not wanting to squander his all-around athleticism, the Saints decided to let the speedy, 6-foot-2, 221-pound Hill try his hand on special teams covering kicks.
After that went well, the Saints made him a kickoff return man early this season. Meanwhile, he has increasingly replaced Brees in short-yardage or some red zone snaps as a read-option QB and also completed a pass on a successful fake punt last week.
“Him throwing it last game — he’s not a one-trick pony. He’s just a weapon for us, man,” Ingram said. “That’s another way for our offense to be more explosive and it’s just a testament to Sean and Pete coming up with ways to utilize a weapon.”
REMEMBER THE SUPERDOME
Washington’s 15-point blown lead in the final three minutes of last year’s game still sticks with players and Gruden. Thompson remembers watching from the locker room after breaking his right fibula and hearing the crowd react to the Saints’ comeback.
“You have to continue playing offensively and defensively and special teams and the minute you give (them) a cracked door, they will kick it down,” Gruden said. “We have to make sure we are on top of all of our fundamental plays, defensively and offensively, to make sure we get this thing done.”