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Drew Brees, Tom Brady: Whose decline is a bigger problem after Week 1 struggles?

What was supposed to be a battle between two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season ended up looking more like two veterans on the decline.

This season is supposed to be a year featuring one more shot at Super Bowl glory for both Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but the Week 1 evidence throws that narrative into question and invites uncertainty about whether each signal-caller still has enough juice left to win it all.

Based on what we saw Sunday, let’s evaluate which quarterback gave us more cause for concern.

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Brees’ arm has looked shot late in each of the past two years. That became especially concerning last season because he had an unexpected “rest” during the season when a thumb injury caused him to miss five starts, theoretically preserving his arm for late in the year. And yet, the decline still came. 

He graded below 63.0 in each of his three final games in 2019, and the year before his run-in featured three more games graded in the 60.0s.

For Sunday's game, his average depth of target was just 5.2 yards downfield, and that’s despite one deep completion 35 yards downfield. The deep ball isn't the only area where Brees’ declining arm strength manifests itself, though that may be the biggest problem. At this point, Taysom Hill’s role has progressed from that of a gimmick playmaker who offered something unique to one of a designed deep attempt.

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