Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
How good is Drew Brees? On a night where he broke Dan Marino's 27-year-old record for passing yards in a season, went 9-9 on third down passes in the first half, threw four touchdowns, and helped the Saints clinch the NFC South I wouldn't even put the performance in his five best games as a Saint. He threw two interceptions and the Falcons should have had at least two more.
Brees' play is at such a different level he makes the great seem ordinary. I'm not even sure how to describe what he's doing at quarterback. The cynics will say the NFL has changed the rules making it easy for quarterbacks to throw until their arms fall off but I'd like to propose something different. Maybe we are witnessing three of the greatest QBs in NFL history watching Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, and Drew Brees?
Only time will judge if the record Brees set Monday night will stand the test of history or be broken soon. My guess is Brees tags on about three hundred more yards next week against Carolina and in 15 years all the experts will be saying, ' How the #$^& can someone throw for 5,400 yards in a season?'
Walking out of the Superdome I thought about how Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Carl Nicks, and a couple other key pieces on offense will be free agents next spring and the Saints need to resign them all even if the defense and Tom Benson's bank account has to suffer. Why? Getting to watch this offense destroy teams every week is the best football experience of my life and I want to ride this horse until it's dead.
Teams have absolutely no answer for what Sean Payton and Drew Brees are doing right now. Atlanta didn't seem interested in blitzing and since they couldn't cover all the Saints weapons Brees simply picked them apart one medium sized pass at a time.
My theory on the Saints offense is really complicated and I'll give it to you now; their fourth best player is better than any defense's fourth best cover guy. If Drew Brees has time somebody will get open and the defense will look bad.
Since Atlanta is likely returning to the Superdome in two weeks I'm not sure what Mike Smith plans on doing to slow down the Saints. In Atlanta he tried blitzing and keeping Darren Sproles under wraps and last night he seemed intent on trying to not let the Saints motion tip Brees into what coverage they were in.
Playing the Saints it seems like either a death sentence of slow torture if you hang back or a quick lopping off of your head if you blitz and don't get to Brees. I personally would do whatever it took to make Brees uncomfortable in the pocket. He might throw for 350 yards but maybe he makes a mistake or two. Perhaps Atlanta is thinking they had a good plan and if they just hold onto a poor throw Brees made with the Saints up 21-10 everything suddenly shifts in their favor?
Make no mistake about the fact the Falcons are seething. The Saints have a World Title and the last three years have repeatedly smacked the Dirty Birds in the mouth when stakes were highest. They even complained about Sean Payton continuing to throw late in the game so Drew Brees could get the record. Dear Atlanta, always remember football rule number on; If you don't like what is happening to you on the football field you should have prepared accordingly.
The only thing about this season that surprised me more than the Saints offense being much better than the 2009 version is a 13-3 record might not get a first round bye. Well that and the Saints defense tragic turning comic inability to catch interceptions. They turned in their magnum opus performance last night dropping three potential interceptions in the final minutes. The 2011 Saints defensive motto should be, 'We drop the ball so receivers don't have to.'
If I'd have told you in August the Saints would be 12-3 heading into the season finale you'd have signed up no questions asked. If the Rams can beat the Saints they surly have one more miracle in them in 2011 against San Francisco? Maybe not but look at the bright side of getting an extra Saints playoff game if the Saints go to the Super Bowl.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.