Former New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees all of a sudden became hyper-efficient from 2017-2020. Could that period be the blueprint for Russell Wilson's rebound in 2023 and beyond? Perhaps the biggest reason why Russell Wilson has a great chance to bounce back is because Sean Payton has worked with an older QB before in Drew Brees.
And, if you look at the offensive production during Brees' final years, it's clear that Payton knew how to work with a QB that was on his last legs. From 2017-2020, Drew Brees turned into the most efficient quarterback in the NFL over that period, and his stats from those four seasons are absolutely mind-boggling.
From 2005-2016, Drew Brees threw at least 11 interceptions in each of those seasons. During that time, he was also an insanely prolific passer, hitting the 5,000-yard mark four times and didn't have a less throwing for less than 24 touchdowns.
If you take Drew Brees' stats over those seasons over a 17-game season it comes out to 666 passing attempts per season. Then, something changed beginning in 2017. From 2017-2020, Drew Brees became even more efficient than he was in his prior seasons. However, his passing attempts greatly declined. He averaged 564 passing attempts per 17-game season from 2017-2020.
Even though he threw the ball a lot less, he led the league in passer rating in three straight years, from 2017-2019. He also led the league in passer rating in 2018 and averaged a 110.3 rating from 2017-2020.
The biggest difference here to me besides everything I mentioned so far is the great decline in interceptions. In those four seasons, he threw for just 23 interceptions, which came out to seven a season over a 17-hame season.
Obviously, when the 2017 season hit, something changed. To me, what happened to the Saints is the same thing that is currently happening with the Denver Broncos.
From 2016 to 2017, their defense went from 31st to 10th in points allowed. In the next three seasons, the defense also ranked 14th, 13th, and 5th in points allowed, which was a huge difference for the team than in prior seasons, where the Saints consistently had one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Another very important point to mention is that the Saints run game also greatly improved when the 2017 season began. From 2012-2016, the Saints ranked 25th, 25th, 13th, 24th, and 16th in rushing yards per game.
Then, in 2017, they ranked 5th in rushing yards. They ranked 7th in 2018, 16th in 2019, and 6th in 2020. So, there's another huge change. What can we conclude with all of this information? The Saints became a more complete team during the 2017-2020 seasons. Their defense all of a sudden became very good, their run game came alive, and Drew Brees did not have to do as much on offense.
That, in turn, helped Brees enjoy the most efficient seasons of his career while in his late 30s. Can I argue that the 2023 Denver Broncos are similar to the Saints' teams from 2017-2020? I sure can. The head coach is the same. The defense is likely going to remain at the top of the league, and the Broncos have also made huge strides to establish a strong running game over the offseason.
Maybe the blueprints for the 2023 Denver Broncos and the Russell Wilson redemption tour can be found from 2017-2020 in New Orleans.