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New Orleans Saints: Five awards for 2016, including MVP

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Sep 11, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks to his players in the fourth quarter of their game against the Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Raiders won 35-34. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton talks to his players in the fourth quarter of their game against the Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Raiders won 35-34. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 24, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) before a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 24, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) before a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Season MVP: Who Else?

Drew Brees. Man.

At 37 years old, Drew Brees somehow put together one of the better years of his career.

Barring two absolute duds against Detroit and Tampa Bay, Drew Brees looked about as dangerous as he’s ever looked.

It helps to have the caliber of receiving core that the Saints have put together. And it helps that the Saints got production on the ground throughout the year.

But ultimately, no player is more responsible for what little success the Saints enjoyed than Drew Brees.

He finished the season with a 70% completion percentage, the third best of his amazing career. That’s behind only the 2009 and 2011 seasons, both of which most fans agree were the best offenses of the Payton-Brees era. He threw for 5,000 yards for the fifth time in his career. The fifth.

That’s just absurd.

Statistically, the Saints offensive line did a great job of protecting Brees and keeping a clean pocket. But statistics don’t tell the whole story. And that’s why Brees’ season is so damn impressive.

Brees’ ability to move in the pocket, to make quick reads and to get the ball out on time and in traffic allowed the offensive line to put together their strong statistics. But when you look at it, they really didn’t have the most incredible year. Senio Kelemete struggled at times in pass protection. Likewise with Andrus Peat, though in Peat’s defense he was playing out of position. Max Unger had a few rough games, as did Jahri Evans.

Next: Cheers for Saints firings might be short-sighted.

But Brees and Sean Payton did a fantastic job of keeping the defense off-balance enough to keep the pocket clean. That’s something that fans will miss, more than the accuracy or even the reads, when Brees is gone. He’s better than anyone in the league at maneuvering the pocket, besides maybe Tom Brady. And that’s what keeps this offense so dangerous.

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