The Sad Plight of Drew Brees

This past Monday Night Football pitted the New Orleans Saints against the Baltimore Ravens. What we saw was more of the same. The Saints horrendously hole-y defense couldn’t keep the other team from outscoring their potent offense. It was also yet another night that Drew Brees went off, as he tossed the pigskin for 420 yards and three touchdowns at an amazing 77-percent rate.

It was just another night for Drew Brees. Poor, poor Drew Brees. What amazes me most about Brees is how unheralded of a quarterback he seems to be. I know, I know, Brees is the savior of New Orleans, lifting them up to new heights in a time when they sorely needed it. And Brees is one of the most beloved and stand-up players in all of the NFL. He is also, however, very rarely brought up when the discussion arises about who is the Greatest QB of All Time?

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Brees suffers from what I like to call the Michael Jordan Syndrome. Jordan was the King of the NBA for 13 seasons from the mid-80s to the late 90s. During that time, some of the greatest players to suit up were on the court lighting up box scores for decades. Names like Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and (as much as it pains me to say it) Patrick Ewing were playing second fiddle to His Airness. If you took Jordan out of the picture, these guys, amongst a bevy of others, all would have had more MVP Awards, probably a few more scoring titles and certainly more championships than the combined zero they accumulated during Jordan’s reign. That doesn’t make them any less part of the all-time NBA greats, but it clearly has removed them from any consideration for the G.O.A.T.

The same could be said for Brees. Throughout his entire career, he has seemed to be on the outside looking in amongst the league’s great quarterbacks. Brees’ career started off slowly with San Diego, but you wouldn’t even know he existed because the eyes of the NFL universe were watching Brett Favre break records and this young Peyton Manning kid come into his own. Then a certain Tom Brady stepped in for an injured Drew Bledsoe and the conversation of the best quarterback in football became a yearly battle between Brady and Manning. Then, Favre left Green Bay and this Aaron Rodgers kid blew up on the scene and Brees seemingly took yet another step back.

But why? Evaluate the numbers alone. There have been only 8, EIGHT, 5000-yard passing seasons in NFL history. Fifty percent of those belong to Brees, including the last three years in a row. He currently has 3,491 yards passing on the 2014 season. That’s an average of 317 yards per game and with five games left on the schedule, that puts him at 5,076 yards passing on the season. That’s four seasons in a row and over 20,000 yards passing in four years. That’s an entire career for a lot of quarterbacks! I know what you’re going to say: it’s a different NFL as it is now a passing league. That’s fine and all, but Brees has never fallen off and has clearly defined this passing age of football.

Brees is currently Top Five all-time in passes completed and attempted as well as passing yards and touchdowns. He has the seventh highest QB rating of all time as well. When you discuss statistical passing leaders, his name is in the same breath as Manning, Brady, Favre and Dan Marino, yet when the best QB conversation is mentioned, those four are usually brought up and Brees is not.

Again, I have to ask why? The knock against Marino was that he never won a championship, but he also did things through the air at a time when other quarterbacks stood by in awe. Well, Brees has one of those. By any chance, do you remember who he beat? True, you can make the argument that Brees doesn’t have any MVP Awards, but he does have a Super Bowl MVP Award. He also has a Comeback Player of the Year Award and TWO AP Offensive Player of the Year Awards. The 2009 season in which Brees led the Saints to the Super Bowl, he couldn’t even muster the MVP. Know why? Manning was wrapping up his fourth.

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Brees, like Marino, has a lot of excuses that could be made due to circumstances out of their control. Since Brees has come to New Orleans, like Marino, he has never had a reliable running game. Like Marino, he never had Hall of Fame receivers. They have both had very good receivers that they have made great. Seriously, you think Marques Colston is a number one receiver on any other team in the NFL? Robert Meachem? Devery Henderson? Lance Moore? Hell, Lance Moore can’t even get on the field in Pittsburgh behind two rookies and Meachem failed so badly when he left New Orleans, San Diego sent him back! Brady, on the other hand, was a clutch, game-managing QB until he broke records throwing to Randy Moss, who is one of the greatest receivers ever. Montana had the luxury of throwing to Jerry Rice who made Rich “The Cannon” Gannon (Go Blue Hens!) an NFL MVP. Manning? He has thrown the ball to two sure-fire Hall of Famers and probably two or three more along the way (Dallas Clark, Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas all present possibilities). Elway was 0-for-3 in Super Bowls until the best running back of the late-90s and possibly the greatest tight end of all time came along. That doesn’t take anything away from the greatness of those quarterbacks, but it certainly helps.

Most of the places you look, whether it is an NFL Films piece, a horribly executed ESPN Top Five or anywhere on the glorious internet, when it comes down to greatest QBs of all time, the argument usually revolves around Manning, Brady, Favre, Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana and Unitas. Most Top Ten lists don’t even mention Brees, throwing the likes of Fran Tarkenton, Warren Moon, Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw into the mix. I’m not taking anything away from any of those guys (well maybe Bradshaw. Go ahead look at his numbers, talk about being in the right place at the right time and taking all of the glory). I’m not saying that they aren’t deserving. All I am saying is that it is time to give serious consideration to Drew Brees as the G.O.A.T of NFL QBs.

26 thoughts on “The Sad Plight of Drew Brees”

      1. “Like Marino, he never had Hall of Fame receivers.”

        I just wanted to say that Marino did indeed have 2 of the top 3 receivers in the league in Clayton and Duper, both of whom had out of this world speed and hands at the same time. The only thing thing that kept them out was the numbers each of the other out up. And some off- field issues! I would put those two up against Lofton, Pearson, Gault, etc. anytime.

      2. Thanks for chiming in! Please don’t get me wrong, I wrote that they very good receivers, and truly believe they were. And you are right in alluding to the fact that Duper and Clayton are superior to the receivers Brees has had to work with as well. Growing up in NY and watching the good ol’ fashioned Kenny O’Brien and Marino shootouts, I remember how great both were at spreading a field. I just don’t put them on the elite level of other dynamic duos (Harrison and Wayne or Bruce and Holt for example) because those guys were able to put up big numbers no matter who was on the field.
        I do appreciate you bringing up those two, and thanks again for reading!

  1. Reblogged this on Troy's Thoughts on Sports and commented:
    Check out this top notch post by “The Wayniac” at The Wayniac Nation about Drew Brees. A great read. Pretty eye opening stuff about Brees’ status in the NFL with a team that’s lacking the contents that concoct a winning roster and Brees is still ‘getting it done’ in spite of everything, and still being relatively unheralded in the process, taking a backseat to other quarterbacks.

  2. I think the most important thing Drew & the others did above & beyond was rebuilt a city that was devistated, I’m not at all taking away from the numbers or the talent that has come & gone. I’m a Saints fan from the heart but if we look deeper, if they were 0 & 16 or however many games they brought a great city hope, that’s the heart and the spirit of New Orleans , the people, the city and the legacy of Drew ,the team, it’s bigger than the Super Bowl , They all helped move the city to a National stage. I’m not a native of New Orleans but lived there when Ken Stabler was QB , the vibe when your in the dome is indescribable and I think it also made the city look at the Nation in a more positive way. It’s such an amazing story if you look a little deeper. The Saints have made such an impact and I’m so proud of the people, the fans & the city. My perspective from Troy TN, I still believe !!!! WDN

    1. Thanks for reading and your insights. It’s fun to hear the passion of a fan.

      Drew Brees is one of the greatest men to play in the NFL from a character stand-point. There is no denying that. To talk about who is as a person isn’t unfair to a lot of other players in the NFL, not just quarterbacks, which brings him to his own elite level of professionalism.

      The sad truth is, when it comes to sports, people are stat driven. That’s why only briefly mention what you have elaborated very well here. Brees has the stats. He has the heart. He has the compassion. And he still isn’t a Top 10 guy. Now, that is simply nuts!

      Thanks again for reading. Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend. Big game vs. the Steelers!

      1. Thanks Wayniac. We love Drew and our Saints, and I love your blog for pointing out what some have been quick to forget during this not great season.

      2. He may not be in the top 10 in the NFL but to the Who Dat Nation, HE IS #1. I/WE LOVE DREW BREES! Brees will be up there with Archie Manning doesn’t matter what others think, he will always be a GREAT Saints player.

      3. Thanks, and I agree. As a long-time Brees fan (I had him on fantasy starting back in the San Diego days) it’s time he gets more recognition than just in NOLA. Look at your example of Archie Manning. People nearly forgot about him until his sons came along! We can’t have Brees become an after thought 10 years down the road. He is simply one of the greatest.
        Thanks of chiming in! I love Who Dat Nation and their passion on their team!

    2. So true, Randy. The Saints in general, and Drew Brees in particular, gave us all in New Orleans hope and pride during those very dark post Katrina days when both were pretty scarce. He still tirelessly works to improve our community, and is an inspiration to us all. It is about time he gets the credit he deserves, and I hope this blog at least starts the conversation.

      1. Thanks, Lisa, hopefully it does. As a resident of Atlanta (don’t worry, I am a Texans fan), I remember Steve Gleason’s punt block vividly and I remember when an entire city of Falcons faithful went from liking Drew Brees to loathing him! With all of the questionable activity of many of today’s role models, Brees should be on a pedestal. Then you throw in his stats and you’re left scratching your head when he isn’t considered one of the greatest of all time! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I once had a pleasure of meeting brees at an event held annaually at a restraunt in the French quarter. He is with out a doubt the most humble and down to earth person I have ever met. Regardless of what his nfl record may come to be, he is a class act and role model.

  4. Nice job Wayniac! I’m a fellow blogger and have found myself in heated debates about the Brees legacy. The thing that is holding him back now is his reputation for untimely interceptions. He’s starting to garner that Favre comparison of being a careless gunslinger.

    That said, I do make it a point to interject Brees into the GOAT conversation because he is still one of the most dangerous QBs in football. Even in his passing age, only a select few average as many yards and TDs per game as Brees, so he’s earned his place in the GOAT conversation!

    1. Thanks for the read and sharing your thoughts! Clearly, we see eye to eye on things! In regards to the Favre comparison, he does have a tendency to throw riskier throws, but Brees has also only led the league in picks once and that was with 19, which isn’t terrible. Favre led the league three times, every time was 22 or more. And you can even argue if it weren’t for a one Peyton Manning’s untimely pick in a certain Super Bowl, the Saints may have lost. #VOTEBREES 🙂

  5. There are a lot of articles about Brees that throw around stats and others that throw around player comparisons but few that put them all together (with a lot of other important facts) like you did here.
    Great read!!

  6. Excellent stuff. As a native New Orleanian and the biggest Saints fan ever, I can tell you that no one single player has meant more to a city or in my opinion a sports franchise than Drew Brees has meant to the Saints. People have mentioned the Katrina stuff, I lost everything but I never lost my Saints, and because of Drew coming to New Orleans I got to sit in that stadium (whatever they call it these days) in Miami on a February night and watch my team win the Super Bowl. Yeah, the Saints…..won…..the Super Bowl. The joy I felt that night, we could have gotten hit by 10 hurricanes, nothing else mattered.

    Just a quick mention of a stat before I go that someone mentioned in these comments…..Drew Brees has thrown some INTs, no doubt. He has also thrown a LOT of passes. Yes, he makes mistakes. However, he has the exact same percentage of intercepted passes in his career, 2.6% as does one Peyton Manning. I love Peyton as well (New Orleans man) but Drew has all the stats Peyton does and beat him head to head for the title. Interestingly enough, both Joe Montana and Steve Young also share the 2.6% interception rate. Some notables…..

    Aaron Rodgers (best in history) 1.7%
    Brady 2.0%
    Rich Gannon 2.5%
    BREES, Manning, Young, Montana 2.6%
    Marino 3.0%
    Kurt Warner 3.1%
    Favre 3.3%
    Moon 3.4%
    Kelly, Staubach 3.7%
    Tarkenton 4.1%
    Fouts 4.3%
    Unitas 4.9%
    Bradshaw 5.4% (yikes)

    1. Thanks for sharing your passion for the city! And these percentages are awesome, thank you for contributing more evidence that Brees deserves to be ranked higher! Bradshaw, man, you saw what I said about him in my post, and you just justified it 🙂 Thanks again and good luck against the Steelers!

  7. One of the best “stats” I give to sum up Drew’s career all the time that really opens people’s eyes to how amazing he is at the position:

    On the touchdown drive that put the Saints ahead for good in Super Bowl XLIV, Drew was 7 for 7 to SEVEN DIFFERENT receivers. Just to top it off and for good measure in case that wasn’t enough, Drew completed an EIGHTH pass to end the drive to an EIGHTH receiver (Lance Moore) for the 2-pt conversion.

    Find tape of that drive and marvel at the greatness that is Drew Brees quarterbacking in the NFL. It’s pure poetry in motion. Sliding in the pocket, checking down when the deep pass isn’t there, fitting balls into tight spots, making plays with his feet. It’s every single facet that makes him, and anyone who could do the same, a candidate for G.O.A.T. QB in the NFL. He can do it all, and there’s no better evidence than that drive.

    “In the biggest spot, of the biggest game there is, he was magnificent.”

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