Although it has been hard to watch some of the losses this season for the Saints, one thing that I am completely impressed with is the passing game of QB Drew Brees. Much of the talk has been on whether Brees will break former Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino’s season-setting record of 5,084 yards set back in 1984. I wanted to look a little deeper to see how good this guy really is.
1984 was an impressive year for Marino, his first as a full-time starter. He averaged 317.75 yards per game that year, threw for 48 touchdowns, only 17 interceptions, and finished the season with a 108.9 passer rating. Miami also went to the Super Bowl that year, losing to San Francisco by a score of 38 to 16. I doubt that the Saints will enjoy that level of success this year. However, Brees does look like he will surpass 5,084 yards and make a mark as one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game.
Brees leads the league in passing yards with 2,985. He is followed by Arizona QB Kurt Warner who has 2,760 and looks like his biggest competition this season. Brees also averages 25 more yards per game than Warner. Warner beats Brees in completion percentage, touchdowns, interceptions, and has a higher passing rating. However, Brees has more big plays. He leads the league in passes of 20 or more yards with 40 (Warner only has 28) and of 40 or more yards with 12 (Warner has 6). Brees is fourth in the league with an overall passer rating of 96.1.
Brees has 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, which put him fourth and sixth in the league respectively. That puts him ahead of Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Eli Manning, and Donovan McNabb.
Clearly, Brees is showing that he is among the top quarterbacks this year. But there’s more.
This is Drew Brees’ eighth season in the league. Each of the past two seasons, he has thrown for over 4,400 yards. Brees struggled the first three years, playing in only one game his rookie year and going upside down on his touchdown to interception ratio in 2003. However, 2004 was the year that he started to live up to his potential.
In 2004, he threw for 3,159 yards, making 27 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. He finished the year with a 104.8 passer rating, almost doubling his 67.5 rating just the year before. San Diego lost in the wild card playoff game to Seattle but Brees had saved his job after his team had “drafted” Philip Rivers to replace him.
His completion percentage has been very consistent since 2004 with a low of 64.3 and a high of 67.5. His current completion percentage is 66.6.
Last year, Brees set the league record for most passes completed in a season with 440. He may also be on the verge of breaking the record for most 300+ yard games in a season. The record is 10 and Brees already has 7 with 7 games left to go.
But, how did some of the best quarterbacks in the league do at the same point in their careers?
Well, last year was Tom Brady’s eighth season. It would be pretty hard to argue that Brees will be better but he’s in the ballpark. Brady averaged 300.4 yards per game with 8.3 yards per throw (Brees is 8.2), but had 50 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. He finished the year with a passer rating of 117.2.
Peyton Manning’s eighth season was in 2005. He threw for 3,747 yards, 28 touchdowns,10 interceptions, completed 67.3 percent of his passes, and finished with a 104.1 passer rating.
1998 was Brett Favre’s eighth season. He threw for 4,212 yards, 31 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, and had a rating of 87.8.
Brees is right there with them. So what happens when we look at some of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game?
In his eighth season (1986), Joe Montana threw for 2,236 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions, ending the season with 80.7 rating. Montana was injured that year, only playing in 8 games.
Terry Bradshaw in his eighth season (1977) threw for 2,523 yards, 17 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, and had a 71.4 rating over 14 games.
In Dan Marino’s eighth season (1990), he threw for 3,563 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and finished with 82.6 passer rating.
Brees still looks like he belongs.
The Saints have the quarterback of a lifetime in this guy. Brees is an exceptional quarterback and from what I hear, a pretty good guy too. I know that it is starting to look like the chances for the playoffs are slipping away. But, this year is history in the making. You are watching one of the best quarterbacks ever. Don’t forget that while you’re mad because the Saints didn’t run Deuce enough or didn’t have a pass rush, your grandkids are going to ask what it was like to see Drew Brees play. Make sure that you remember.