With regards to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, there are three stat lines worth noting as we await the kickoff to Sunday’s opening game of the regular season against the Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
1. In 15 NFL seasons, he has completed 5,365 of 8,085 passes (66.4 percent) for 60,903 yards, with 428 TDs and 285 INTs for a 95.8 passer rating.
2. Brees is 8-2 all-time against the Raiders (105.2 passer rating), including seven consecutive victories, two while with the Saints in 2008 and ’12. In those seven straight wins, he has thrown 16 TDs and zero INTs.
3. After signing a new contract extension Wednesday, Brees’ all-important salary cap number drops from a league high of $30M to $17.25M for this season. The cap breakdown -- $1 million (base salary), $13.4M (prorated signing bonus), $250,000 (workout bonus) and $2.4M (restructured bonus).
Next season, according to terms of the new deal, his cap number jumps to a still manageable $19M with a base salary of $13M and pro-rated signing bonus of $6M.
So what’s it all mean?
Absolutely nothing when it comes to Sunday’s game.
The vastly improved Raiders and second-year coach Jack Del Rio could care less about Brees’ Hall of Fame resume’, what happened in Brees’ 10 previous encounters with the Silver and Black or No. 9’s vast new riches.
Da Raiders have come to the Big Easy to beat Breesy and kick some Black and Gold butt.
And they will, unless the Saints display the kind of quality football that we didn’t see for any significant length of time during a 0-4 preseason.
▪ The revamped offensive line, which now features oldie but goodie right guard Jahri Evans, must build a wall around Brees and keeps Raiders’ DE Khalil Mack and friends at bay. Running backs Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller, Tim Hightower and FB John Kuhn also have to move the chains.
▪ Receivers Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, rookie Michael Thomas (if healthy) and TE Coby Fleener must get separation.
▪ Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has to manufacture a consistent pass rush against Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr with Cameron Jordan, Paul Kruger, Kasim Edebali et al.
▪ Allen’s defense must slow down a posse of Raiders’ running backs led by Latavius Murray and that could pose problems without injured veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe on the field.
▪ On the back end, young cornerbacks Delvin Breaux, P.J. Williams, Ken Crawley and De’Vante Harris and safeties Jairus Byrd, Kenny Vaccaro and rookie Vonn Bell have to do their jobs against a pair of game-breaking receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
Oh yeah, can anybody name the Saints new kicker? If you guessed undrafted rookie Will Lutz of Georgia State, go to the head of the class.
Let’s hope Lutz has better luck than Carolina Panthers’ kicker Graham Gano, who pulled a potential game-winning 50-yard field goal wide left in the final secondsThursday night against defending Super Bowl champion Denver at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.
Gano’s untimely miss enabled the Broncos to escape with a 21-20 victory on opening night.
By the way, a win against the Raiders would vault the Saints into a first-place tie in the NFC South with the winner of the Tampa Bay-Atlanta divisional clash.
And continue Brees’ own “Commitment to Excellence’’ against the Raiders.