When debating which active quarterback is the greatest, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers often come to mind. But a future Hall of Famer who is having the best year of his career at the age of 39 usually is ignored: Drew Brees.
Brees has been making it look easy this year. He toyed with the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11, throwing four touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 73 percent of his passes. It’s only Thanksgiving week, but he already has led the Saints to their NFL-record sixth 40-point game this season. He also is on pace to absolutely shatter his own record for highest completion percentage in a season, all while throwing just one interception to date.
Sure, Brees will never equal Brady’s five Super Bowl rings, but it’s important to note that his Saints teams historically haven’t been great.
Take 2012 for instance, when the Saints allowed the most yards in NFL history. Or 2015, when the Saints finished last in defense in terms of points allowed, despite finishing second in total yards. In fact, from 2012 thru 2016, New Orleans finished first or second in total yards four times, but their defense ranked 27th or worse in terms of total yards allowed in those respective seasons.
Brees has led a top-four offense in total yards 12 times in his career. But in Brees’ 13 years with the Saints, New Orleans has been in the bottom third of the league in defense eight times.
Bad defenses mean that Brees usually is trailing in games, and in turn he’s throwing the ball a ton. When it comes to single-season pass attempts, Brees has eight of the 17 highest single-season totals in NFL history. He has led the league in pass attempts four times. The Saints failed to make the playoffs in those four seasons.
How does this help his case in the debate for best quarterback? For one, teams know he’s going to be throwing the ball frequently, but he’s still the most statistically accurate quarterback in NFL history at 67 percent. More impressively, if he keeps up his pace this year, he will have had a completion percentage of 70 percent or more for the fifth time in his career. No other quarterback has accomplished the feat twice.
Brees doesn’t have the playoff success Brady does. He’s also thrown more interceptions than Brady and Rodgers. But, the numbers don’t lie. Brees has succeeded at historic levels despite being surrounded by terrible defenses and being forced to shoulder the load for his team.
It’s time to throw Brees in the discussion for best quarterback with Brady and Rodgers.
Thumbnail photo via Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports Images
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