The achievements that previously drew gushes and generated awe become taken for granted, expected even, because they become as reliable as the sunset, as frequent as a breeze off the lake, as routine as an eye blink.
So when New Orleans Saints quarterback
Because he has done it before, time and again, actually.
Still, it’d be wise to savor performances like Monday night’s against Miami, a 38-17 Saints victory in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in which Brees offered a performance that might qualify as best-of-his-career for other quarterbacks, but maybe not in the top five or 10 performances of his.
Brees’ Saints remained undefeated (4-0) this season as the quarterback completed 30 of 39 passes (76.9 percent) for 413 yards and four touchdowns, without an interception, to finish with a rating of 144.5.
Fifteen times since joining the Saints in 2006, he has completed a percentage of passes as higher or higher in a game. Eight times, he has thrown for more yards.
Seventeen times, he has had as many or more touchdowns and five times, his quarterback rating has been higher.
At no time has the franchise, or its fans, seen such a sustained level of excellence, one that’s so common that the wonder comes when he doesn’t scale the statistical mountain every game.
“He’s a guy that – and I say this time and time again – he comes to work and really prepares day in and day out,” said receiver
“It’s really not a surprise any more for us to see the kind of games that he had (Monday) night, where he’s just so precise. So it’s kind of become the norm. You lose sight of the fact that what he does on a day-to-day basis is really extraordinary.”
But it all starts with Brees.
“He plays out of this world,” said Graham, whose own contributions this season (27 catches for 458 yards and six touchdowns, second and first in the league in the latter two categories) are fairly stratospheric.
Graham caught two touchdown passes from Brees on Monday night, the first being a high pass in the left front corner of the end zone that the leaping Graham caught while surrounded by three Dolphins defenders.
“I told him after that play, ‘Thanks for believing in me,’ ” Graham said. “He’s just a special quarterback. He throws it in areas only where I can get it. It was probably a better throw than a catch.”
The throws and catches figure to keep coming this season. Brees currently is second in the league with 1,434 passing yards and fourth with 166 attempts. And he shows no signs of slowing.
“There are a lot of moving parts to it in that, No. 1, it’s certainly fair to say that he’s going to prepare and he’s going to put himself – mentally, physically – in a position to excel,” Coach Sean Payton said Tuesday.
“And then when you have guys up front giving him the protection, guys getting to where they need to be in the passing game with regard to route distribution, he’s proven time and time again that the ball can come to not just the primary, it can come to a number of receivers.
“There are plays that we have put in the plan that might be designed for a certain player. Graham’s first touchdown that he catches was a red zone, kind of fringe play designed for him. But (Sproles’) reception for a touchdown, he’s third in the progression and Drew did a good job of seeing how that play was being defensed and threw it wide and outside to Darren. From a spacing standpoint he’s real good at seeing how the defense is deployed and very consistent at doing that.
“We don’t’ take it for granted. It’s something he works on. Location-wise, it’s something that gets back to everyone painting the right picture for a play that’s called and being where they need to be with regard to the location of the route. The players understand that, based on what we see, this ball could come to any one of the eligible receivers.”
That’s because they have the right man holding the brush. Many times, the work comes out a masterpiece, even if the repetitiveness of it seems to suggest something less.