Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Drew Brees Should Thank His Lucky Stars That New Orleans Saints Believed In Him

Ever since Drew Brees has taken off as one of the most prolific passers ever in the NFL, conventional wisdom was that the Miami Dolphins made the worst decision ever in not picking him up as a free agent when they had the chance.

Considering all the quarterbacks that they've been through in the time that Brees has started every game in the past six seasons for the Saints, the Dolphins would have seemed to have made a crucial miscalculation in thinking that his shoulder would not fully recover from the near-catastrophic injury he suffered in 2005.  While diving for a loose ball, Brees suffered a serious shoulder dislocation that completely tore the entire ring of cartilage (the labrum) that surrounded his shoulder joint.  He also had a rotator cuff tear.

Most thought at the time that Brees would never be the quarterback he once was.  However, successful surgery with the famous Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham and a fierce rehab program healed the throwing arm of Drew Brees.

What it didn't do was turn in him the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback that he now is.

That's in large part due to the unique pairing of the right coach with the right player.  When Brees was signed by the Saints, Sean Payton had just been hired as a first-time head coach.  Payton installed a West-coach offense that suited Brees' talents well, and success on the field was immediate.  In six seasons together, the pair have won a Super Bowl and Brees has averaged 4,500 passing yards each year.

Had he gone to Miami, he would not be the celebrated player that he is now.  Nick Saban was the coach of the Dolphins when Brees was a free agent, and his time in Miami was filled with turmoil and losing.  While it's possible that Brees might have succeeded with Cam Cameron in his one year of coaching, I also wonder if Brees would have stayed as healthy with the Dolphins as he has with the Saints.  After all, both Chad Pennington and Chad Henne suffered serious injuries while playing quarterback for Miami.  Playing on a field that is part-grass and part-dirt is always risky, in my opinion. So is playing for a crappy team.

So while most pundits will chastise the Dolphins for not believing in his magical healing powers, remember that Brees was also extremely fortunate that he was grabbed by the right team at the right time.  Someday, he'll be able to thank them when he is introduced in Canton.

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