Chris Simms Defends Ranking Drew Brees Outside Top 15 QBs, Behind QBs Like Cam Newton and Kirk Cousins

Jordan Cohn
June 24, 2020 - 2:53 pm
Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints

Matthew Emmons/USA Today

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Any time any sports personality ranks anything, there are going to be critics. It's a part of the business, an inevitability of the trade, a downside -- or perk, depending on how you handle criticism -- to an otherwise pretty cool job of just talking about sports.

Chris Simms seems like a guy who views the biting commentary on his work as a perk to the job. He likes interacting with the fans who are outraged by his analysis and even acknowledges the possibility that readers may very well think his work "sucks."

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But while there are debateable entrants on the list all across the board -- after all, it's not an objective list by any means, and no one is particularly right or wrong -- Saints fans took exception to Simms' decision to place Brees outside the top 15 quarterbacks in the league. As point of reference, Brees led the NFL with a 74.3% completion percentage in 2019 and was ahead of Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and MVP Lamar Jackson with a 116.3 passer rating. He helped Michael Thomas become the NFL's single-season receptions record holder and once again led the Saints to a playoff berth.

But that wasn't enough for Brees to break into the top 15 and move ahead of guys like Kirk Cousins and even Cam Newton, who hasn't won an NFL game since 2018 and may never be a starter again. Simms defended his rankings in an interview with a local news station.

"I get it, I understand that," Simms said in response to the idea that Brees' ranking was a little low. "Does that mean he can't be successful still, and bring the Saints to a Super Bowl, and do everything that a Saints fan wants? No, no, he certainly can do all those things."

Simms says, however, that you must take his age into account and some of the deficiencies in his game in recent showings.

"Physical skills are declining, for one, as we've seen," Simms said. "We know there (are) some issues sometimes pushing the ball down the field, making throws outside the numbers."

Simms doubts Brees ability to get the team out of sticky situations and rally them like he has done in years past. Additionally, Simms points to Sean Payton's proven scheme as a factor that may bolster Brees' performance relative to what he's actually doing over any other quarterback, especially when "you take away some of the shorter completions, some of the... magic of the Sean Payton offense."

But the kicker is what he says about the Saints' eagerness to retain Taysom Hill and groom him for the future.

"If Drew Brees was still a top-five or top-ten quarterback in football, the New Orleans Saints wouldn't be moving on to Taysom Hill for the 2021 season," Simms said. "And I understand that maybe if Drew Brees wanted to come back maybe he could make that happen...

Simms calls Brees' deep-ball ability and Payton's confidence in the size of Brees' arm into question as additional factors in determining the placement of the future Hall of Fame quarterback at No. 16.

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