Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @wwltvsports
MINNEAPOLIS ― Carl Nicks sat at his locker, fielding one more question about quarterback extraordinaire Drew Brees, who just so happened to be in the left guard’s line of sight, fixing his hair and tying his tie in front of a mirror in the locker room.
Nicks, looking up, grinned.
“Look at him,” Nicks said. “He’s perfect. He’s great in life.”
Indeed, there might be no better way to describe New Orleans’ MVP-caliber quarterback.
He continues to define the position and the Saints like few other players in the franchise’s history.
Of course, we’ve written this and you’ve read this before.
But Sunday’s 42-20 win over the Vikings felt different.
About that, hold on , Nicks said.
“Was it really?” he questioned. “He’s never done anything like this before? We’re used to it. When he doesn’t have good games, we’re like, ‘What?’ “
Brees has thrust his name into the MVP category.
He has to have.
With two games to go, he’s only 305 yards from breaking Dan Marino’s seemingly untouchable NFL record for passing yards in a season (5,084).
Brees has the Saints on pace to break the Rams’ 2000 NFL record for total offense in a season (7,075), needing only 682 to pass it.
He’s set to break his own NFL completion percentage record (70.62 percent), completing 71.5 percent of his passes this season.
Under his guidance, the Saints offense is 42 first downs from breaking the NFL record of 398 set by Kansas City in 2004.
He’s 34 completions shy of breaking the NFL record for completions in a season (450 by Peyton Manning in 2010).
He also has 41 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, six behind Johnny Unitas’ NFL record (47), and the 11 300-plus-yard games he has this season is a new NFL record.
Early Sunday morning, the local sports crew on a Minneapolis radio station expressed to their listeners that one of the main reasons to catch the game was Brees, to watch greatness happening.
They were right.
“It’s great to have a front row seat to watch that happen,” Saints defensive end Will Smith agreed. “He has played terrific as always but he’s playing even better now. That’s a good thing for all of us. I’d love to see him go out there and beat it. I don’t he’s just going to beat it. I think he’s going to shatter it.”
Against the Vikings, Brees was as precise as he normally is. He finished 32 of 40 for 412 yards and five touchdowns, ending with a 149.2 quarterback rating.
He’s the first NFL quarterback to complete at least 80 percent of his passes, throw for 400-plus yards and have five touchdown passes with no interceptions in a single game.
To a man, Brees is recognized in the locker room for making the players who they are today.
“It’s all him,” Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said of his improvement this season. “I give it to him 100 percent. I know how far I’ve come, but I only think I’d be three-quarters of who I can be without him.”
Said center Brian de la Puente, “He makes our job really easy, the time he puts in during the week and understanding defenses. He puts us in the right situations.”
Yet, all of this just seems so normal now.
As impossible as it seems, Brees has gone under the radar this year, with most attention being focused on Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New England’s Tom Brady.
Not that Brees cares, at least outwardly, about any of this.
“That’s something I think at the end of the season or whenever I’m done playing, that’s stuff you look back on and say, ‘That was pretty cool,’ ” Brees said. “For now it’s really just trying to stay focused on each week, each game because you never want the thought of that stuff to influence your preparation, decision-making or anything like that.”
Ultimately, the outlook that matters most comes from the head coach.
“We don’t really focus on preseason stuff in regard to awards,” Sean Payton said. “We just focus on how the players are playing and it has been very steady. Obviously, when you are talking about the quarterback position that is a huge plus in your ability to win games.”
The Saints are winning games and have been winning games.
They’ll continue to win games with Brees at the helm.
After all, Nicks had it right – Brees is good in life.