The Mailbag is a tad light this week on the questions, but we'll make the best of what we have. As always, thanks for the inquiries and I hope the answers help to clarify. Now, on to it:
@TheGOAT0: Is Drew Breesa top five quarterback all-time?
JD: That's a difficult one to answer, because it's impossible to make an apples-to-apples comparison through the ages. For instance, with rules now that play to the strengths of being an offensive-minded passing team, 4,000-yard passing seasons pretty much are the norm, whereas in the past (and minus a 16-game regular season), 3,000 would have been considered a fantastic year. Kudos to Brees (and Coach SeanPayton) for taking advantage of the existing rules; if Brees plays for as long as he hopes to play – I think he was talking mid-40s at one point – he likely will own every significant passing record. Alone, that might make him a top five all-timer. But for now, and in no particular order, former players like Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, John Elway, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, and at least one contemporary (Tom Brady) all have a compelling case for being ranked ahead (and maybe, too, Dan Marino, who had a Hall of Fame career but didn't win a Super Bowl). It's a fun debate, and just being in it legitimately speaks volumes to the kind of career Brees has had so far.
@_joshisking: What's going on with Sheldon Rankinsand Delvin Breaux?
JD: Rankins broke his fibula Aug. 15. He was placed on injured reserve Sept. 5, which denoted that he couldn't practice for six weeks and couldn't play for at least eight. His earliest game return would be Nov. 6, on the road against San Francisco. He was seen this week doing some light work on the sideline. When Breaux broke his fibula in the season opener against Oakland, on Sept. 11, the forecast was that he would miss at least six weeks; Sunday will be his fifth week since the injury and surgery.
@jocktalkWINC: What is the key to the Saints bouncing back into the NFC South Division race after a rough first four games?
JD: Pretty simple – complimentary football. It's hard to win with one hand tied behind your back, which is the equivalent of the offense playing well but the defense lapsing, or the defense playing well and the offense struggling, or both of them playing well and the special teams slipping. The Saints still haven't played a complete game, even in victory against San Diego (defense struggled for a half, offense was uneven probably for most of two quarters). That's a goal for every team. The good thing for the Saints is this: They're 2.5 games behind Atlanta (two in the loss column) in the NFC South, and there's still plenty of time. I know, the era of bold and spontaneous deduction frowns upon the virtue of patience and yet, any definitive statement that is made about a team five weeks into a 17-week season is borderline lunacy. If the Saints can get into a groove of consistency from the three units, there's plenty of time to make a move.
@datjohnnyboy: Should the Saints look into signing free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie?
JD: When you're 1-3, there's nothing wrong with kicking the tires on every possibility (weekly, the team has workouts for free agent players for the purpose – among other things – of updating the database and see who might be worthy of a future call in case of injury or declining performance). If he can still play, of course. But if he's not an improvement, if he can't unseat Sterling Mooreor Ken Crawleyor B.W. Webb, there isn't much reason to pursue that option, not with Delvin Breauxdue back soon and with safety Vonn Bellproving to be an emerging asset in the secondary.