NFC South: Johnny Unitas

Drew Brees is player of the week

October, 10, 2012
This should come as no surprise, but the NFL has announced that Drew Brees is the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Brees made history Sunday night when he threw a touchdown pass in his 48th consecutive game to break the 52-year-old record set by Johnny Unitas. Brees also led the Saints to their first win of the season, a 31-24 victory against San Diego, the team he began his career with.

Brees finished the game with 370 passing yards and four touchdowns while completing 29 of 45 passes (64.4 percent).

This is the 16th player of the week award of Brees’ 12-year career.

NFC South evening update

October, 9, 2012
Let's take a look at the top Tuesday afternoon headlines from around the NFC South:


Former NFL coach Tony Dungy said Atlanta coach Mike Smith should get running back Michael Turner more involved in the offense. I respect Dungy as much as any coach I’ve ever covered and I do think the Falcons need to keep some semblance of a running game. But I think it would be a mistake to force too much Turner’s way. He’s looked slower than usual this season and the Falcons finally have a dependable passing game. Stick with what’s working. There was a time when the Atlanta offense revolved around Turner, but that time was when Mike Mularkey -- and not Dirk Koetter -- was the offensive coordinator. Turner still has an important role, but this is an offense that's built mostly around the passing game.


Ron Rivera has been criticized for not having quarterback Cam Newton attempt to leap over the Seattle defense from the 1-yard line on Sunday. Rivera and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski explained the decision to attempt a pass. They said Seattle was putting up a 10-man front and they liked their chances with three receivers lined up. They also pointed to the fact that center Ryan Kalil was playing with an injured ankle and might have been pushed around by Seattle’s defensive tackles.


In his weekly film study, Mike Triplett notes that the Saints finally generated a consistent pass rush out of their front four. That’s the way a Steve Spagnuolo defense is supposed to work, with the back seven allowed to concentrate on pass coverage. I’m not sure the Saints have the personnel up front to be really dominant, but this is a sign that Spagnuolo’s defense can have some success. I think there’s also the chance Spagnuolo’s teachings could really help young defensive ends Cameron Jordan, Junior Galette and Martez Wilson blossom as the season goes on.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Tuesday afternoon that Drew Brees has sent the ball he used to break the record previously held by Johnny Unitas for touchdown passes thrown in consecutive games. The Hall of Fame said the ball was accompanied by a play sheet signed by interim head coach Aaron Kromer, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and Brees, who added "48'' to his autograph. The mementos were placed on exhibit inside the Hall of Fame's Pro Football Today Gallery on Tuesday. The Hall of Fame has been informed that Brees also intends to add the football he throws for a touchdown from the final game of the streak, when that occurs.


Coach Greg Schiano said backup running back LeGarrette Blount has looked better in practice in recent weeks. The Bucs aren’t ready to push Blount ahead of rookie Doug Martin for the starting job, but I think you’ll continue to see a gradual increase in Blount’s work load as the Bucs still seek to find their offensive identity.

The Bucs also sent out an announcement Tuesday afternoon, saying they have placed cornerback Anthony Gaitor on injured reserve (designated for return) and promoted linebacker Jacob Cutrera from the practice squad.

Superlatives on the Saints

October, 8, 2012
We weren’t able to do this in the first four weeks because they didn’t win. But now that they have, it’s time to take a look at some statistical superlatives on the New Orleans Saints’ 31-24 victory against the San Diego Chargers.

We’ll turn to ESPN Stats & Information and the Saints’ media relations department for some help.
  • You already know that quarterback Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas’ record by throwing a touchdown pass in the 48th consecutive game. But let’s put a little more context on the accomplishment. Unitas first took possession of the record 54 years ago and, prior to Brees, no one came within 10 games of his streak. But New England’s Tom Brady has an active streak that’s not too far off Brees’. Brady has thrown a touchdown pass in 37 straight games.
  • Brees has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 90 of his 100 career starts.
  • Brees now has 17 career games with four or more touchdowns. That’s second among active quarterbacks. Peyton Manning leads with 22.
  • Brees now has thrown for 300 yards or more 54 times since joining the Saints in 2006.
  • Brees also has another NFL-best streak that remains active. He has completed 20 or more passes in 41 straight games.
  • Receiver Marques Colston caught three touchdown passes. That tied his career high. Colston also had three touchdowns in a 2007 game against the 49ers. Colston now is the franchise’s all-time leader with 52 touchdown catches and is third on the list for touchdowns.
  • Colston and Devery Henderson each had at least eight receptions, 120 receiving yards and a touchdown. It’s the first time in franchise history that two receivers have put up such numbers in the same game.
  • Sunday was the 300th regular-season win in franchise history. The Saints are 300-390-5 in 46 NFL seasons.

Wrap-up: Saints 31, Chargers 24

October, 7, 2012

Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 31-24 victory against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:

What it means: It was a nice night for the Saints. Suspended coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis were given special permission to attend the game and witness history. They did. They got to witness Drew Brees break Johnny Unitas’ record by throwing a touchdown pass in his 48th straight game. The Saints also got their first win of the season. But the reality is it’s probably too little, too late. They’re 1-4 and, unless they go on some sort of dramatic run, their chances of making the playoffs are slim.

The “other streak’’ ends: Safety Roman Harper came up with a fourth-quarter interception. Might not sound like a big deal, but it was significant. Harper and fellow safety Malcolm Jenkins didn’t produce an interception all last season or in the first four games of this season.

Colston’s big game: The night belonged to Brees, for obvious reasons, but receiver Marques Colston had a memorable night. Colston had nine catches for 131 yards and three touchdowns. After starting the season slowly, Colston got healthy and has had two big games in a row.

Signs of hope: Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his defense took a lot of criticism in the first four weeks of the season. But there were signs Sunday night that Spagnuolo's defense is taking hold. It wasn't spectacular, but there were a few times when I saw sacks that were the result of coverage. When you're relying on your front four for your pass rush, you need some help from the guys in coverage.

Meachem’s revenge: In part because the Saints were in the process of making Brees the NFL’s highest-paid player, they didn’t have the salary-cap room to keep Robert Meachem, a former first-round draft pick. But Meachem provided the Saints with a reminder of what they’re missing. He caught two touchdown passes.

What’s next: The Saints have a bye week. They’ll return to action Oct. 21 at Tampa Bay.

Drew Brees' streak defines him

October, 7, 2012
Since his arrival in New Orleans in 2006, Drew Brees has been piling up huge numbers.

He’s set records and won a lot of games -- and a Super Bowl. But I don’t think those records or even the Super Bowl are what define Brees.

[+] EnlargeDrew Brees
Chuck Cook/US PresswireDrew Brees celebrates his record-breaking touchdown pass in the first quarter Sunday night.
I think the record he set Sunday night against the San Diego Chargers will be what defines Brees down the road. Brees threw a touchdown pass to Devery Henderson with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter.

That score gave Brees a touchdown pass in 48 consecutive games, dating back to 2009. He entered the game tied with Johnny Unitas, who established the previous record (47) from 1956 to 1960.

Breaking any record set by Unitas is monumental, but this one is particularly big.

If you’re throwing a touchdown pass in 48 straight games, you’re consistently excellent. That’s why I’m more impressed with this streak than anything else Brees has done. He broke a record that lasted for 52 years.

What he’s showing is sustained greatness. When he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame some day, people will look at Brees’ streak, which could end up going on much longer, as his trademark.

I compare Brees’ streak a little to Cal Ripken’s string of consecutive games played. Fans may not know his career batting average, but even the most casual fan knows that Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record.

Break a record held by a Unitas or a Gehrig and that’s going to be one of the things people will remember most about you.

The record also brought some joy to what, up until this point, has been a joyless season for the Saints. It came with suspended coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis in attendance. Although they're not supposed to have contact with the Saints during their suspensions, the NFL gave the trio permission to attend after Brees requested.

For at least a brief moment, all was well with the Saints again.

More on Drew Brees and the record

October, 5, 2012
We’ve talked a lot already about how Drew Brees will be attempting to break Johnny Unitas’ record of 47 straight games with at least one passing touchdown when the New Orleans Saints play on Sunday night.

Let’s talk a little more about it, with some help from ESPN Stats & Information.

Right now, Unitas and Brees are tied at 47 games, so let’s take a look at what they did in those games. Unitas’ team was 31-16 during that span. The Saints are 33-14. In those games, Unitas threw 102 touchdowns with 61 interceptions. Brees has thrown 114 touchdowns with 50 interceptions. Unitas threw touchdown passes to seven different players. Brees has thrown touchdown passes to 15 players.

Speaking of players Brees has thrown touchdown passes to during his streak, the leader is Marques Colston with 22. Lance Moore has 20. Jimmy Graham and Robert Meachem, who now plays for San Diego, are tied for third at 19. Darren Sproles is fourth with nine.

For those history buffs out there, Unitas’ streak began Dec. 9, 1956 and lasted through Dec. 4, 1960. The previous record was 22 games, set by Cecil Isbell (five bonus points if you’ve ever heard of him before now). Unitas held sole possession of the record for 19,663 days before Brees tied it Sunday at Green Bay.

The last time Brees had a game without a touchdown pass was Oct. 4, 2009 against the New York Jets. Coincidentally, Brees also went without a touchdown pass the week before that in a game against Buffalo.

Around the NFC South

October, 5, 2012
Let's take a run through the Friday morning headlines from around the NFC South:


Receiver Julio Jones said he’s fine after playing with a laceration on his hand against Carolina. Jones refused to blame his hand for playing a role in a dropped pass. But drops have been an issue for Jones so far this season. He leads the team with four.

When asked to rate the performance of the defense so far, cornerback Asante Samuel gave it a five out of a possible 10. I think he’s being a little too critical. This defense has been very good at times, but it hasn’t always been consistent. Maybe a little urging from a veteran like Samuel will help bring the consistency.


The pass rush had a huge game last week with seven sacks. Coach Ron Rivera said there’s no reason the pass rush can’t have a big impact every week. He’s right. Carolina has talent up front, particularly Charles Johnson. Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is coming to town Sunday and the Panthers can help themselves if they can bring consistent pressure.

Although Wilson is an unknown to most of the Panthers, rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly knows him well. While playing at Boston College, Kuechly faced Wilson, who was playing for North Carolina State, three times. The two also did their pre-combine training together at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.


It’s starting to appear likely receiver Lance Moore will miss Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. Moore missed his second straight day of practice Thursday. The Saints re-signed receiver Greg Camarillo to provide depth.

Adam Schefter reports that suspended coach Sean Payton will attend Sunday’s game, but general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt will not. Vitt previously has said he doesn’t want to be a distraction for the Saints. The NFL granted quarterback Drew Brees’ request to let all three men attend a game in which he will attempt to break Johnny Unitas’ record of throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games.


Dory LeBlanc writes that Tampa Bay’s bye week is coming at the perfect time. Usually, teams like to have their bye a bit later. But, with a new coaching staff, the Bucs are still adjusting and the bye gives them some time to make some adjustments.

Gary Shelton writes that coach Greg Schiano is a work in progress. That’s very true. We’ve only seen his team play four games. The Bucs are 1-3 and Schiano has angered some people around the league. But there also have been signs of hope from his team and the real measure of Schiano will be if his team gets better as the season goes on.
At the request of Drew Brees, the NFL has given suspended New Orleans coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach Joe Vitt and general manager Mickey Loomis permission to be at Sunday night’s game against San Diego.

But at least one of the three reportedly will decline. Vitt told Mike Triplett he does not plan to attend. Vitt is serving a six-game suspension. He ran the team throughout training camp and the preseason and is scheduled to again fill Payton’s role once his suspension is over.

"I do not under no circumstances want to be a distraction," Vitt told Triplett. "I'm not with the team right now, and I'll live by the letter of the suspension. The focus has got to be on the team, preparing hard and winning this game, first and foremost, then we hope to get the record.’’

Brees will be attempting to break Johnny Unitas’ streak of 47 straight games with a touchdown pass against the Chargers. Vitt said he has tons of respect for Brees and also was an admirer of Unitas, but doesn’t feel it would do any good to show up at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

"There's nothing I can do there that's gonna help them win this game,’’ Vitt said. “And I don't want to be a distraction."

It remains unclear if Payton and Loomis will attend.

Is Brees' streak diminished by era?

October, 4, 2012
Whenever you compare players from different eras, it makes for a great debate.

With Drew Brees on the verge of breaking Johnny Unitas’ record (47) for consecutive games with a touchdown pass, ESPN Stats & Information’s Alok Pattani takes a look at the two streaks.

He writes that Brees’ streak might not be quite as impressive as what Unitas did. Unitas’ streak came from 1956 through 1960 at a time when anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of a team’s overall plays were passes. Brees’ streak comes in an era where teams throw on about 60 percent of their offensive plays.

Using some fancy math, Pattani calculates that a 47-game touchdown pass steak was 43 times more unlikely in the late 1950s than today. He also calculates that it would take a 63-game streak today to be as impressive as a 47-game streak in the late 1950s.

All valid points. There is no doubt that Brees plays in a league that passes much more often than the one Unitas plays in.

But I don’t think Brees’ potential accomplishment should be diminished. Unitas’ record has stood for 52 years. If another quarterback had played well enough, the record could have been broken long ago.

But it wasn’t. It’s lasted until Brees, so let’s give him his due credit.

Sean Payton can attend Sunday's game

October, 3, 2012
There is pretty major news on the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday night.

ESPN’s Ed Werder reports that the NFL has granted quarterback Drew Brees' request to have suspended coach Sean Payton, general manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt attend Sunday night’s game with the San Diego Chargers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

This is a significant game because Brees needs one touchdown pass to set a new record for consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass. He’s tied with Johnny Unitas at 47 straight games. The game is also special to Brees because he was drafted by the Chargers, but the team let him go after the 2005 season because there was uncertainty about the health of his shoulder.

Payton, who was hired in 2006 by the Saints, was willing to take a chance on Brees’ shoulder and they’ve turned into one of the league’s best quarterback/coach tandems.

The league suspended Payton for the full season, Loomis for eight games and Vitt for six games for their roles in the alleged bounty scandal. During the suspensions, Payton, Loomis and Vitt have not been allowed to have contact with the team, other than a brief visit by Payton at the Hall of Fame Game.

I’m sure the NFL isn’t going to let the trio on the sideline, but I don’t have any problem with the league making an exception and allowing Payton, Loomis and Vitt to at least be in the building.

They’ve played a major role in Brees' getting to this historic moment and they at least deserve to witness it.

Around the NFC South

October, 2, 2012
Time for a run through the Tuesday morning headlines from around the division:


Although his team is off to a 4-0 start and has thorough command in the NFC South, Atlanta coach Mike Smith said he’s not getting carried away and isn’t focused on division foes just yet. He said he’ll worry more about division opponents when the Falcons play them. But, the reality is, if things keep going like they are, the Falcons might not have to worry about much in the NFC South.

Zeke Trezevant has a breakdown of the seven sacks the Falcons allowed Sunday. Most of them were given up by right tackle Tyson Clabo, who struggled to block Charles Johnson. But the encouraging thing is most of the rest of the sacks weren’t resulted to a breakdown of the offensive line. Instead, there were several coverage sacks, where Matt Ryan held the ball too long, instead of throwing it away.


Jonathan Jones has a good breakdown of what happened in the final seconds of the Falcons-Panthers game, when Smith tried to call a timeout he didn’t have. An official signaled for the timeout and then informed Smith he didn’t have one. It didn’t matter. The Falcons only had 10 men on defense and the pause allowed them to get 11 on the field. Officials did not hit Smith with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

It sure sounds like the Panthers are ready to turn back to Sherrod Martin as their starting free safety after Haruki Nakamura didn’t work out. Martin was the starter last year and had some issues with tackling, but it seems like the Panthers have come to realize Martin is better than Nakamura in coverage.


Joe Unitas, the son of Johnny Unitas, wrote a letter to quarterback Drew Brees, wishing him luck as he tries to break his father’s record of touchdown passes in 47 consecutive games. The younger Unitas admired Brees’ skills on the field, but saluted him even more for what he’s done off it.

There have been rumblings that the NFL soon could re-issue punishments in the Saints’ bounty program. But, as of the end of the day Monday, no decision had been made. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma faced a season-long suspension and defensive end Will Smith faced a four-game suspension. Although both players have fought the penalties, the speculation is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will issue the same punishments he did the first time.


After watching quarterback Josh Freeman catch fire in the second half Sunday, coach Greg Schiano said he should have let his quarterback take more shots downfield in the first half. Schiano has talked about taking shots since the day he was hired. He has a quarterback with a strong arm and needs to let him take those shots on a consistent basis.

Jeremey Trueblood lost his starting job at right tackle to Demar Dotson. Trueblood wasn’t even active on Sunday because he can’t play other positions on the offensive line. The Bucs forced Trueblood to take a pay cut in the offseason. Unless there are dramatic changes, it’s safe to say Trueblood won’t be back with the Bucs next season.


Wrap-up: Packers 28, Saints 27

September, 30, 2012
Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints28-27 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field:

What it means: The Saints played their best game of the season, but still fell to 0-4. I won’t categorically say the season is over, but it’s close to that. It’s going to take an awfully big miracle for the Saints to bounce back and make the playoffs.

The win that wasn’t: The Saints actually had this game won -- momentarily. With just under three minutes left, Garrett Hartley converted a 43-yard field goal that would have given the Saints a 30-28 lead. But the field goal was erased by a holding call. That set up a 53-yard attempt that would have tied for the longest of Hartley’s career. He never got to attempt that kick because the Packers jumped offside. That moved the field goal attempt to 48 yards. Hartley’s kick was wide left. The Packers got the ball back and ran out the clock.

Can’t blame Brees: There’s a school of thought out there that quarterback Drew Brees hasn’t stepped up enough in a season in which the Saints are without suspended coach Sean Payton. I’m not sure how much more Brees possibly could have done against the Packers. He completed 35-of-54 passes for 446 yards and three touchdowns without being intercepted.

Tying the record: Brees threw a touchdown pass in his 47th consecutive game. That ties him with Johnny Unitas for the longest such streak in NFL history. Brees will get a chance to break that against the team that drafted him and later dumped him.

Colston shows up: Wide receiver Marques Colston had been very quiet in the first three games. He wasn’t quiet against the Packers. Colston had nine catches for 153 yards and a touchdown.

What’s next: The Saints will host San Diego at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome next Sunday night.

Final Word: NFC South

September, 28, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:

Throwbacks bring good luck: Team marketing departments love throwback uniforms because they create more merchandise to sell. Some coaches also love the throwback uniforms because they believe they bring good luck, and coaches are a superstitious group. Count Atlanta’s Mike Smith among them. The Falcons will wear their throwback uniforms Sunday against Carolina. The Falcons started wearing throwback uniforms (red helmets, black jerseys and white pants) in 2009 and are 5-1 in those outfits. They’re scheduled to wear them again in a game Nov. 29 against New Orleans at the Georgia Dome.

[+] EnlargeAtlanta Falcons
AP Photo/Gregory BullWith a win over Carolina on Sunday, Atlanta would tie their franchise record for the best start to a season.
Looking at history: The Falcons can tie the franchise record for best start in team history with a win against Carolina. The 1986 and 2004 teams each started 4-0, but each lost its fifth game. If the Falcons win against the Panthers, they’ll have a chance to set a team record when they play at Washington in Week 5.

Chasing the record: There’s a bright spot as the 0-3 New Orleans Saints travel to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers. If Drew Brees throws a touchdown pass, he’ll tie the NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. The record is 47 by Johnny Unitas from 1956 through 1960. If Brees ties the record Sunday, he’ll have a chance to break it the following week at home against San Diego. You might recall that the Chargers are the team that unceremoniously let Brees go after the 2005 season, and he still carries a chip on his shoulder about that.

Contact coming slowly: We all know that the defense has been a big problem for the Saints. One of the biggest problems is that the Saints haven’t been able to stop runners in the backfield. The Saints have allowed a league-high 477 yards before making first contact with the ball carrier, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Opposing runners are averaging 3.7 yards before a New Orleans defender even touches them.

Run defense much improved: Despite their 1-2 start, the Buccaneers have made some significant improvements. One of them has been the run defense. Tampa Bay is allowing a league-best 2.3 yards per rushing attempt, and that comes after a season in which the Bucs allowed a league worst 156.1 rushing yards per game. The Bucs also are leading the NFL by allowing just 0.95 yards before first contact. Last year, the Bucs allowed 3.04 yards before contact, which ranked No. 31.

First glance at Week 2

September, 11, 2012
Let’s start taking a quick by-the-numbers look ahead to the NFC South’s Week 2 games with some help from ESPN Stats & Information.

Buccaneers at Giants
  • The Bucs snapped their 10-game losing streak with a victory against Carolina in the opener. But the Bucs still are looking for their first back-to-back wins since Weeks 3 and 4 last year. The Bucs have lost seven straight games against non-division opponents.
  • New York quarterback Eli Manning is 2-4 in his last six September starts.
Saints at Panthers
  • New Orleans has started 0-2 only once in the last 15 seasons. That was 2007, when the Saints started 0-4 and didn’t make the playoffs.
  • New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has two active streaks going. He’s thrown for 300 yards in an NFL-record eight straight games. He also has thrown a touchdown pass in 44 straight games, only three short of Johnny Unitas’ record.
  • The Panthers have lost their last four meetings with the Saints.
  • Carolina quarterback Cam Newton had career lows in rushing attempts (five) and rushing yards (4) in Week 1. I think it’s safe to guess the Panthers might try to run Newton a little more after seeing what Robert Griffin III did to the Saints on Sunday.
Broncos at Falcons
  • I think the Falcons better be prepared to see a lot of the no-huddle offense out of Peyton Manning and the Broncos. In Week 1, the Broncos scored 25 points on four drives while going without a huddle. On the three drives they didn’t huddle, the Broncos produced zero points.
  • I also think you’ll probably see a lot of three-receiver sets from the Falcons. In Week 1, Matt Ryan was 18-of-22 (81.8 percent) for 208 yards and three touchdowns when the Falcons had three receivers on the field.
  • Atlanta’s Julio Jones has at least one receiving touchdown in each of his last five games. That’s the NFL’s longest active streak.

Drew Brees by the numbers

December, 19, 2011
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns in Sunday’s victory against Minnesota.

Those numbers come with all sorts of implications and significance, so let’s take a look.
  • First off, Brees now has 4,780 passing yards and needs only 305 in the final two games to break Dan Marino’s single-season record for passing yards (5,084 in 1984).
  • Brees’ performance Sunday was historic in itself. Brees became the first player ever to pass for 400 yards and five touchdowns while compiling a completion percentage of at least 80, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He’s also the sixth player in NFL history to post 400 passing yards, five touchdown passes and no interceptions in a game.
  • It also was Brees’ 11th game with at least 300 passing yards this season and that’s an NFL record.
  • It was Brees’ sixth career game with five passing touchdowns, which ties Marino and Peyton Manning for the all-time record.
  • Brees isn’t the only quarterback with a shot to eclipse Marino’s record. Three others at least have a mathematical chance. New England’s Tom Brady would need to average 246 yards over the final two games to pass Marino. Eli Manning needs to average 361.5 yards and Aaron Rodgers needs to average 361.5.
  • Brees now has at least one touchdown pass in 41 straight games. That’s the second-longest streak in history. Johnny Unitas set the record (47).
  • Brees now has 37 touchdown passes on the season. That’s a new franchise record. Brees had thrown for 34 touchdown passes in two other seasons.