When most people are posed with the question, “Who is the best player in the National Football League?”, they blurt out the obvious names like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Adrian Peterson. When asked, “Who is the best quarterback in the league?”, Peyton Manning, Brady, or Rodgers are the names most often cited. Almost no one mentions the name of the Drew Brees when the best players overall or by position are being considered. However, Brees may be the best player in the NFL right now. He has the arm, the statistics, and the overall impact on the game to be named one of the all-time greats in the National Football League.
Drew Brees owns one of the most accurate arms in the NFL. He has not completed less than 63.0% of his passes since the 2003 season which was his third season in the league, his second season as a starter, and his second season under new head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Brees has two seasons, the 2009 and 2011 season, where he completed over 70% of his passes, at 70.6% and 71.2% respectively. Only four passers in NFL history have ever completed 70% of their passes in a single season. The other quarterbacks were Hall of Fame players Joe Montana and Steve Young, and Ken Anderson, one of the best quarterbacks not to make the HOF (Anderson has been nominated twice, though he has not been inducted yet). Brees is one of the few quarterbacks playing today that can make every single pass that a pocket passer needs to make. He can throw deep slants and deep outs. He always hits receivers and running backs in stride on short passes, and he makes the intermediate throws look easy (Intermediate passes are the most difficult throws to make in football). He excels at the back shoulder throws and often throws his receivers open with his passes. The sign of a great quarterback is his ability to get the football to his receivers in tight windows, and Drew Brees makes his throws into small areas look easy. Brees has one of the best arms in football and it puts him among the elite at his position.
And, his numbers reveal his stature amongst his peers. Since 2006, Drew Brees has a higher passing yards per game average than all his contemporaries. His 298.9 average is nearly 30 yards better than both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Brees and Brady rank number 1 and 2 in most passing yards in a single season with 5,476 and 5,235 respectively. Only Brady and Brees have multiple years when they have thrown for over 4,800 yards in a season, but Brees is the only man in NFL history with two 5,000 yard seasons. Only Peyton Manning has had a higher average quarterback rating than Brees since 2008. But, Brees has managed more passing yards and equaled or had more touchdowns than Manning in each season of the same time period. Brees is second only to Manning in total 300 yard games, but has played 3 years fewer than Peyton. No quarterback of this generation boasts better numbers than Drew Brees.
Though he is seldom applauded for his accomplishments, Drew Brees is on par with some of the greatest quarterbacks that ever lived. He has broken Johnny Unitas’ record for consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass that stood for 50 years. People thought that it was unbreakable. He broke Dan Marino’s record for passing yardage that stood for twenty-plus years. And, he nearly broke the same record two years before, when the rules were not as lenient towards offensive players. People though that record was untouchable too. He is second in career regular season passing percentage and has the highest career postseason passing percentage at 66.8%. Brees holds the National Football League records in single season passing yards (5,476 yards), 300 yard games (13 of 16 games), and is the only man to pass for 5,00 yards in two separate seasons. He is the fastest NFL QB to pass for 40,000 yards in his career. Brees is an anomaly, and he is under appreciated.
No player of this generation has performed quite as well as Brees has in recent history. His talent, his numbers, and his achievements compare favorably against not only his peers, but also against some of football’s most reputable icons. And for some unknown reason, he does not get the recognition that his play warrants. Drew Brees is one of the most underrated players in the National Football League. But more importantly, Drew Brees is one of the best players to ever play the game professionally.