It’s been seven years since Drew Brees joined the New Orleans Saints and cemented himself a future Hall of Fame QB. It’s been six years since QB Daunte Culpepper played his last game in Miami. For the Miami Dolphins, a team now apparently on the rise, the connection between Drew Brees is more than a simple mistake.
Then Head Coach Nick Saban was ready to make Drew Brees his start QB but the doctors told him Brees had only a 25% chance of recovery and that Culpepper should return to his playing ability. Well, we all know the doctors were wrong. On both of them. Culpepper appeared in only a couple of games and was released the following season by Cam Cameron. Brees became the poster child for the city of New Orleans and has broken almost all of Dan Marino’s records.
While many would like to harp on the Nick Saban mistake the real travesty of Brees not being a Dolphin falls on the shoulders originally of Dave Wannstedt. Needing a QB most felt that Miami would select the Purdue Boilermaker if he were still on the board when Miami selected. He was. They didn’t. Instead, the Dolphins coach/GM selected Jamar Fletcher. A CB who was out of Miami almost as fast as Culpepper. Brees fell to the 2nd round where San Diego made him the first pick in round 2.
The rest you can say is an ugly history. One that belongs squarely on the shoulders of Miami.
What would Brees had done if he had joined the Miami Dolphins?
In 2001 the Dolphins were primarily a running team with a care to make no mistakes QB in Jay Fiedler. In his first three seasons in the NFL Drew Brees struggled. So much so the Chargers drafted Phillip Rivers to take over the team. Brees was a free agent the following season. How well he would have played in Miami is really an unknown. Miami lacked the pass protection along the line of scrimmage and relied on Chris Chambers and Oronede Gadsden as their primary wide-outs. 2002 said good-bye to Gadsden and hello to Ricky Williams and James McKnight and two years later the Dolphins began their on again off again relationship with the spaced out Williams.
How Brees would have been in that situation is unknown. It was hardly an ideal situation to say the least. What we do know is that he would have been more reliable than Jay Fiedler even in a caretaker position. If that notion is true than it’s possible that Dave Wannstedt may have retained his job and Nick Saban would not have come to Miami. Or Brees would have failed miserably and both he and Wannstedt would have been gone. In this latter possibility Brees may have gotten a redemption from the incoming Saban.
Which flashes us to 2005. Had Brees been drafted by Miami, Nick Saban would have had Brees on his roster for one season. A season before Daunte Culpepper. Under Nick Saban’s style of offense run then by OC Scott Linehan, it’s entirely possible that Brees would have flourished in that setting. If he would have then Linehan would still have been gone for an HC job the following year and Saban likely would have still gone back to College. It’s not likely that Drew Brees would have changed that future.
But it very well may have changed Cam Cameron’s.
Cameron’s biggest blunder was his approach to the draft in 2007. Opting for Ted Ginn, Jr. over Brady Quinn. While Quinn didn’t work out at any stop so far Ginn hasn’t either. His second pick, John Beck would have been someone else. Imagine Drew Brees with a speed burner like Ginn? If Brees was in fact the QB under Cam Cameron there is a good chance that many fans would have been asking for a speed WR to compliment Brees. The Cameron debacle stemmed not just from his poor draft picks but from his lack of understanding his players. He lost the team before he ever really gained their trust and it’s because of that Cam Cameron still may have lost his job.
The reality with Drew Brees is this. He has benefited from very solid coaching in New Orleans. Sean Payton. He has had a solid offensive game package and a trio of WR’s that played to Brees’ talent. In Miami there is no guarantee that Brees would have found the same success early after his drafting or by addition VIA free agency seven years ago.
There is no guarantee that he wouldn’t have been either. The reality is this. Miami had two chances to land a future Hall of Fame QB and failed in both of their attempts. Since Brees came into the league the Dolphins have been a downward spiral and the Saints have become the creme’ de la creme’ of the NFL
The only guarantee out of all this is simple. All these years later and it’s still a bitter pill to swallow. He may not have been able to change the Dolphins on his own but he would have likely saved Miami fans a ton of tears.
The good news? This is the first year the Dolphins will face the Saints without a question at QB since Brees came into the league.