It’s only been two games, but it’s fair to question whether 41-year-old Saints quarterback Drew Brees is starting to show his age.
Brees hasn’t been bad this season. In fact, he’s completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 472 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, with the bulk of that production coming without Michael Thomas. He’s also taken just one sack.
But PFF analyst Bruce Gradkowski sees a drop-off in Brees’ ability.
“Yeah, we [do],” Gradkowski said on The DA Show. “Last night [against the Raiders], he only had one pass 20-plus yards downfield. Being down most of that game, I’m just surprised they [didn’t] push the ball downfield [more]. You have to question how is he feeling physically?”
Brees finished 26-of-38 for 312 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the 34-24 loss. Gradkowski, though, had concerns about Brees even after the Saints’ Week 1 win over Tampa Bay.
“I came away from that game thinking, ‘Man, Tom Brady can really still sling it around the yard. Maybe Brees is closer to the end than we all think,’” Gradkowski said. “I love Drew Brees. I love what he’s done for the NFL, for the Saints. He’s the ultimate professional, just works his tail off every day. He’s been with Sean Payton for so long he knows this offense like the back of his hand, but he continues to prepare as if he’s a rookie. That’s what I love about Brees and his mindset, how he approaches the game.
“But physically . . . your right shoulder, when it’s not feeling the greatest, it’s tough,” Gradkowski continued. “I think he can still get it done. I think it’s just a little communication between him and the receivers. I think they will figure it out. Sean Payton is one of the best offensive minds in the game. So Brees, we’ll watch him get better as the season goes on.”
Brady, 43, rebounded well from his clunky opener, leading the Buccaneers to a 31-17 win over the Panthers. Gradkowski said Brady’s arm looks better than Brees’.
“I just see it on film,” he said. “I know Bruce Arians, everyone talks about his system, pushing it downfield. But I could just tell the way the ball is coming out of their hand. Brady right now looks strong.”
In Week 2, Brady had a PFF grade of 98.1 on throws 20-plus yards downfield.
“Brady is looking good,” Gradkowski said. “Brady’s issue in Tampa right now is just miscommunications, continuing to get on the same page with his wide receivers. That takes some time. He’s in a brand-new offense. It takes some time to process it in live action. But I think they’ll pick up some steam. They’re going to be the team in that division, but I wouldn’t count out the Saints. I just think with Drew Brees and Sean Payton, they’ll figure it out.”