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John DeShazier: Drew Brees is having one of the best seasons of his storied career

Brees is on track for fifth 5,000-yard season

It makes sense to say Drew Brees is having one of the best seasons of his storied career, that he's playing as well as he ever has at any stage of his career, that his production continues to amaze as he enters the New Orleans Saints' season finale Sunday, against the Falcons in the Georgia Dome.

It makes perfect sense, actually, given that he's on schedule to again lead the league in passing yards (with 4,852, he's 148 short of extending to five his NFL record of 5,000-yard seasons), has a chance to lead in passing touchdowns (his 35 is one behind Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay) and is second in completion percentage (70.9, a few ticks behind Sam Bradford's 71.3 and a shade below his NFL record of 71.2 in 2011).

So, here it is: Brees, at 37 years old and one step closer to submitting measurements for his Hall of Fame blazer, is having one of the best seasons of his storied career.

That's not to suggest that Father Time won't eventually track him down and register one final sack.

But Brees continues to sidestep him in the pocket and throw darts to crossing receivers, continues to take his hits square in the chest but only after spiraling a perfectly placed, back-shoulder throw, continues to absorb the occasional blind-side, rib-shaker from him fraction of a second after Brees has managed to launch another of the 463 touchdown passes he has thrown – 383 in his 11 seasons as a Saint.

So if Brees doesn't win the race against Time, surely, he will be remembered as one who managed to dictate terms for an extended period, who at times slowed the clock until it ticked on his pace, who clogged his hourglass so the sands simply didn't seem to flow as quickly as they do for most.

"That's my goal every year, is to get better in some way, to evaluate my performance from the year before during the offseason, and try to make improvements wherever I can," Brees said. "That might be just a little tweak in my routine, that might be trying something new in regards to my preparation, it might be doing something different in regards to my recovery.

"There's a lot of things that I feel like I've tried to implement every offseason to prepare myself to play my best during the season. That's always my goal, to improve and to get better."

Said Coach Sean Payton: "I don't think we've become numb. I don't think what he does is ever overlooked, certainly from his peers. I think when you're here on a daily basis and see what he goes through in preparation and then how he practices, I think it makes complete sense."

Leading the league in yards, completing 442 of 623 passes, being intercepted just 14 times in those attempts? Complete sense?

Absolutely, when it comes to Brees.

Last year, he missed his first game as a Saint with an injury, and still led the league with 4,870 passing yards, completing 428 of 627 passes, with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In 2014, he tied for the league lead with 4,952 yards, completing 456 of 659 passes, with 33 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. In '13, he was second in the league with 5,162 yards, while completing 446 of 650 passes, with 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Back it up to '12; league-leading totals of 5,177 yards and 43 touchdowns (with 19 interceptions) while completing 422 of 670 passes. And it was more of the same in '11, with a then-NFL record 5,476 yards and 46 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions, by completing 468 of 657 throws.

"His training, his work ethic and all the things we've talked about for a whole time, it's never taken for granted," Payton said. "Certainly we've changed in the years gone by, what we've tried to do and maybe how many balls he'll throw early in the week. He's as much in tune to that as anyone and I think he does a great job adjusting and adapting to the schedules and getting himself both mentally and physically ready to play each week."

What it adds up to is this: A quarterback who wants to win.

"I focus on the process to get to the result, and the result I want is winning and making the playoffs and having a chance at winning a championship," Brees said. "So, while I feel like there were a lot of good things this year, I feel like we can do even better next year. Certainly, I can do even better next year to get us to where we need to go.

"I'm just willing to do whatever I need to do to help us win. I have a high level of expectation and standard for myself, and that doesn't mean stats. Now, does a high completion percentage and do touchdown passes versus low (percentage) and turnovers, do all those things result in winning? In most cases, yes. There's a correlation there. But at the end of the day, we've got to find ways to win."

The Saints (7-8) didn't do enough of that to qualify for the playoffs this season. But they have the chance to finish the season with three consecutive wins and to post their first non-losing season since going 11-5 in 2013.

"I think it would say a lot about our guys," Brees said. "I think it would say a lot about this locker room and the direction that we're headed as a team.

"I feel like we've begun to figure a lot of things out, we've begun to kind of find what we're really good at on both sides of the ball. And you want to continue to build upon that each week. When that preparation and when that work results in victories, that builds confidence."

The preparation and work have resulted in many positives for Brees, numbers that consistently are standard-bearing. But they are numbers that he has no time to reflect on at present, save one.

"Just focusing on winning and trying to put us in a position to win championships," he said. ""Priority No. 1 is winning."

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