On Oct. 8, New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees was 3rd in all-time NFL passing yards. In the second quarter of the game, Brees threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Tre’Quan Smith, pushing him from third to first all-time, passing Peyton Manning and Brett Farve for the record.
Along with now holding the all-time passing yards record, Brees also holds the record for most career completions (6,370), highest career completion percentage (67.2%), most completions in one season (471 in 2016) and most 5,000–yard passing seasons (5).
Since Brees claimed the record, many are advocating Brees should be included in consideration for all-time greatest quarterbacks. But that may be a bit premature and sensationalist. A quarterback doesn’t become the GOAT (greatest of all time) just because of good stat lines.
The argument against Brees begins in the Saints conference, the NFC South. The conference is not known for strong defenses. Brees’ numbers would be quite different if he were consistently facing teams with tough pass-defenses. He has also accomplished these numbers in a more pass-friendly NFL whereas both Manning and Farve played during a time when quarterbacks were not offered the same level of protection.
From a fan’s perspective, Brees doesn’t have the spunk or personality that other great quarterbacks have. Farve was a gun-slinger, firing bullet passes across the field. Manning was a no-huddle strategist calling plays from the line. Tom Brady has a focused, play-to-dominate attitude.
Compared to those quarterbacks, Brees seems very basic. Each of the other contenders have something unique about their playing style that sets them apart.
More than anything, the reason why Brees isn’t the greatest, or even in top five, is because to be the best you can’t just win. You have to win championships.
Apart from the 2009-2010 season when the Saints won the Super Bowl (with the help of a cheating defensive coordinator and illegal hits to the other teams’ QBs), the team has been largely absent from the playoffs.
Aaron Rogers, has only won one Super Bowl but has had many deep playoff runs. Tom Brady has five Super Bowl Rings. Yes, New Orleans has had a chance at the title last year, and they do seem to have a chance this year. However, without consistent playoff success, it’s hard to say that Brees is an all-time great, considering what other quarterbacks have accomplished.
So, congrats Brees. The record is a tremendous accomplishment. But let’s just let him win a couple championships before we carve his name into plaques.