With five games to go in the season, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has already locked the league’s MVP award. But how good is he doing compared to other great passers over the last 20 years?
Well, two seasons ago the New England Patriots had the most prolific offense in NFL history, and Brees is better this year than Tom Brady was in 2007. Average yards per throw, as we’ve been telling you for some time, is the most important stat in football. A YPA of 9.1, as Brees has after 11 games, is the equivalent in baseball to hitting around .370 or winning 25 games if you’re a pitcher. Brady averaged 8.3 in 2007. Brady’s quarterback rating was slightly higher than Brees’, 117.3 to 112.6, but that’s largely because the system gave Brady credit for piling it on, throwing a lot of touchdown passes after the game had been decided.
Brees is on track to equal or surpass Joe Montana’s best year, 1989. They have the same yards per throw average, 9.1, and Brees’ QB rating is a fraction ahead of Montana’s 112.4.
The best season by any quarterback in the last 20 years was Peyton Manning in 2004, with a 9.2 YPA, a 121.1 rating, and 49 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Brees isn’t going to throw as many TDs as Eli did in 2004 (or Brady in 2007) because when his team is winning in the 4th quarter, the Saints spend most of their time running the ball. But they stand a very good chance of having a better season than Eli, and maybe the best in all NFL history.
This Sunday Brees goes against the 3-8 Washington Redskins, who are 9th in the league in points allowed. The next week they play the Atlanta Falcons, who are 18th in the league in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed passing. On Saturday December 19th Saints play the Dallas Cowboys in what will probably be the only threat to an unbeaten season. But the game is at New Orleans, and the Cowboys are probably not as good as the New England Patriots, against whom Brees threw five TD passes last Monday.
After that, it’s almost no fair. On Dec 27 they’re home against Tampa Bay, which probably has the worst pass defense in the league, and they close out the season on Jan 3 against a Carolina panthers team that is currently ranked 21st in points allowed.
We make it 4-1 that New Orleans finished the season without a loss, but the odds are much better than that that Drew Brees will wind up having the best season of any quarterback in modern NFL history.