Nov 8, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
#5. Drew Brees’ Stats Inflated by Pass-Heavy Offense
Since coming to the Saints in 2006, no quarterback has passed for more yards than Drew Brees. On the surface, this seems like it should be a statistic that supports the argument Drew Brees is elite.
Unfortunately, it belies the ugly underbelly, during the past decade, the reality is no quarterback has thrown more than Drew Brees. He leads the league in passing attempts during this span.
There’s an unspoken sentiment around the NFL that a large part of Drew Brees’ records have less to do with his prowess as a quarterback, and more to do with the pass-heavy offense of ex-quarterback Sean Payton.
Sep 20, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and head coach Sean Payton talk in the second half of their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won, 23-19.Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps no season sums this up attitude up better than 2008, the year before the Saints won the Super Bowl.
The Saints were incredibly mediocre that year, posting a disappointing 8-8 record even though they were just a year removed from the NFC Championship game. In 2008 Drew Brees threw for 5,069 yards, falling one completion short of Dan Marino’s record for most passing yards in a single season.
However, Drew Brees also threw for 17 interceptions and the Saints missed the playoffs.
Here’s another way to look at it. According to Pro Football Reference, through the 2014 season, Drew Brees ranks in the top ten passing attempts per season in NFL history for 5 of the top 10 spots.
That means, of the ten times a quarterback has thrown the football more in a season than any other quarterback, Drew Brees was responsible for half of them.
Ultimately, it’s a combination of all these factors that has led to the perceived decline of Drew Brees.
The legacy of Bounty Gate, combined with the Saints recent woes, and high turnover numbers have all greatly impacted the legacy of Drew Brees.
But don’t lose hope, as stated in the first reason, the NFL has a famously short memory.
Just look at Cam Newton, the number one overall player according to this years NFL rankings. Last year, Newton ranked number 73. That’s quite a leap in one season.
If Drew Brees and the Saints put together the year they’re capable of, and return to the playoffs, expect Drew Brees to once again be a part of an “elite” conversation…..