Black & Gold Review

New Orleans & Sports & Americana

Andy Benoit and THE TRUTH about Drew Brees’ Arm Strength

Andy Benoit and THE TRUTH about Drew Brees’ Arm Strength

Andy Benoit of Sports Illustrated is obsessed with Drew Brees’ #armstrength. We were reminded of his obsession when, in a recent article ranking the top quarterbacks for the rest of the 2017 season, Benoit couldn’t get through three fluffy sentences about Brees (who ranked fourth on his list) without throwing an #armstrength shot in there.

That line rang so familiar it sent us down a rabbit hole, searching for the origin of Brees’ mysterious declining #armstrength; this hole is precisely 2,000 days deep. For five long years, Andy Benoit has cried from the remote wildernesses of large sports publications. We must heed his warning.

April 30, 2012

Behold! April 30, 2012 shall be forever known as PEAK #armstrength. Two thousand days ago, the great Drew Brees had a “strong arm.” Let us all say a prayer in gratitude of this day and all days.

It’s not a mere “fun fact” that the only two N.F.L. starting quarterbacks who are not over 6 feet are Michael Vick and Drew Brees. Vick compensates with otherworldly athleticism; Brees compensates with a strong arm and uncanny accuracy.

September 2012

Alas, on day 129 — mere months later — the great #armstrength decline was FORETOLD. Doom and noodle-armed throws were the only foreseeable future.

The 12th-year veteran has good, but certainly not amazing, natural tools. His arm strength is respectable but not astounding; he’s mobile but not in a frightening way; he’s strong in the pocket but, at six-feet-even, not always able to easily see over the line.

August 27, 2014

Unable to fully diagnose the chronic #armstrength loss at this early stage, the great #armstrength truther nevertheless identifies a crack in the armor: “But if Brees is unable to reset, his arm strength plummets – something we saw more than usual last season.”

July 6, 2015

And on the 1163th day, #armstrength decline was identified and reported by the intrepid reporter. On this day, Drew Brees tried to push himself out of bed, and was shocked to find that he did not have the strength.

August 14, 2015

Praise the great and mighty #armstrength gods! The onslaught of the great decline that was foretold has resulted in the crawl of a weak, baby-armed man.

(Let us here note that, despite Benoit’s prediction that the Saints wouldn’t throw deep much in 2015, Brees was one of the best deep passers in football that year.)

September 26, 2015

IT IS AS HAS BEEN FORETOLD! The great shoulder injury of 2015 brings the #armstrength truth to light! All hail the great seer, Andy Benoit!

October 15, 2015

On day 1,264, the great #armstrength truth is revealed, for real this time! Injured, broken, the almighty Drew Brees barely completes a 25 yard pass. Oh! The horrors of humanity.

August 22, 2016

Father time remains undefeated as the great #armstrength decline brings disaster to those around Drew Brees. Let it be known: All passes will be short, slow, and wounded, for it is day 1,576, and #armstrength is a thing of the past.

In the past, the Saints have always invested in premier guards because, having a 6-foot quarterback and an aerial attack focused on the middle of the field, it’s imperative that the interior pocket stay firm. With Brees’s arm strength in decline, it’s more imperative than ever.

June 21, 2017

It is now day 1,879 of the great decline! As the scripture demands: LO, WHILE BREES IS STILL A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE QUARTERBACK, IT IS TIME TO PONDER THE NATURE OF EXISTENCE, AND CONSIDER WHEN TO DRAFT A REPLACEMENT. AMEN.

August 3, 2017

On day 1,922 of the great #Armstrength decline, DECLINE IS ACCEPTED. IT IS IDENTIFIED. IT IS EVIDENT ON…MESSY PLATFORMS?

October 18, 2017

REJOICE! On day 1,998 of the great decline, Drew Brees was recognized as the fourth best quarterback in the league. MAY THE GREAT #ARMSTRENGTH GODS REMAIN KIND FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN.

​4. Drew Brees, Saints: Business as usual. He still gets through his progressions as efficiently as anyone, which is why New Orleans’s offensive line shuffles have not been a huge problem, and why Brees’s declining arm strength usually isn’t.

The best part of Benoit’s #armstrength analysis is, of course, just how gradual the apparent decline has been. Benoit honed in on the #armstrength cliche during the 2014 offseason, while reviewing the 2013 season. He amplified his concerns when he reviewed the 2014 season — that’s when Brees’ arm had “deteriorated.”

That’s why the best analysis is this one:

This past June, while reviewing the Saints’ 2016 season — a full three seasons after the one that inspired Benoit to start talking about decline and deterioration — Benoit determined that Brees is still “nowhere near” the point where the “decline becomes too much.” Five long years after describing Brees’ arm as just “respectable,” the great decline is… nowhere near a problem.

The truth is, Benoit’s just mistaken. Brees isn’t a big-armed gunslinger, but he never was. Benoit, without realizing it, actually describes what he’s been seeing on film all these years.

Brees has never been the sort of quarterback who can bomb a defense with a shot on a rope while falling sideways, or something. He’s not a Favre or Vick or Stafford. He wasn’t that guy in 2009, or in 2006, or when he played in San Diego, or when he played at Purdue. He creates velocity with perfect mechanics and core strength — “You don’t throw with your arm,” Brees said in 2014, “you throw with your core.” Get Brees off-balance, make him uncomfortable, screw with his mechanics and so diminish his ability to use his core strength, and he’ll throw some wobblers. He always has. It’s nothing new.

But still, one day, Benoit will be right. One day Drew Brees will retire, because his body has diminished (let’s say at age 43), and on that day Benoit will shut his eyes and let out a single long breath and nod to himself and say: “I was right.”

Author

Ryan Chauvin

A native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but with a surname that indicates his importance to the history of a tiny town in South Louisiana, Ryan Chauvin currently lives in Houston, TX, doing general (read: non-sports) internet things. Ryanwas on Jimmy(!)’s bandwagon before it was cool, and has never predicted that the Saints will lose a game.