Drew Brees blazed a new trail for modern quarterbacks

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As legacy goes, Drew Brees added many thing to the story that is the NFL. Beyond his unique significance to the resurrection of New Orleans, Brees became a human JUGS machine during his tenure with the Saints.

Before Brees, only one quarterback threw for 5,000 yards in a season: Dan Marino, in 1984. Brees became the second to do it, 24 years later, with 5,069 in 2008. Three years later, Brees obliterated Marino’s record, with 5,476.

Although Peyton Manning eventually set the single-season record by a single yard, Brees finishes with five seasons — a full 25 percent of his entire career — with 5,000 or more passing yards: 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016. No one else has more than one.

Brees also broke a record that had stood for decades when he caught and passed the Johnny Unitas streak of 47 straight games with at least one touchdown pass. Brees eventually pushed it all the way to 54.

Brees did it all in a body that was hardly prototypical. Most NFL quarterbacks, when encountered away from the football field, prompt a visual search for the nearest beanstalk. Brees was one of the first (and only) great quarterbacks to be a “normal” six feet.

He lasted until the top of round two in 2001 due in large part to the fact that he isn’t large. Eighteen years later, an even shorter quarterback, Kyler Murray, became the first overall pick. It’s hard not to wonder how much higher Brees would have gone if he were being drafted now, even without knowing what he’d do.

It’s also hard not to wonder whether the gap between Brees and Mike Vick would have been fewer than a full round.

Regardless, Brees exits as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Reasonable minds will differ on whether he’s No. 5 or No. 10 or somewhere in between, and some will argue he falls somewhere between No. 10 and No. 20. The truth is that Brees leaves in a category of his own, one that he crafted and one that blazed a trail for plenty of quarterbacks whose catch phrase is something other than, “Fee fi fo fum.”

14 responses to “Drew Brees blazed a new trail for modern quarterbacks

  1. “Eighteen years later, an even shorter quarterback, Kyler Murray, became the first overall pick. It’s hard not to wonder how much higher Brees would have gone if he were being drafted now, even without knowing what he’d do.”
    ____________

    Strange comparison given Murray was drafted as a run-pass-option guy who has a cannon for an arm whereas Brees never had a huge arm and was never a running threat. Brees comes out today and he’s a late round pick assuming he even would be drafted at all. The NFL hasn’t become more accepting of shorter QBs–they’ve become more enamored of runner type QBs to the degree they’ll overlook height if the guy is a good enough athlete. There is no younger equivalent to Brees in the NFL.

  2. I watched him from end zone seats at Purdue vs Minnesota. From that vantage point, his accuracy was jaw-dropping. It didn’t matter if it was a 5 yard slant, 15 yard post or corner routes or the 50 yard bomb. He was awesome in college and in the pros. Happy retirement Drew!

  3. Both Peyton Manning and Drew Brees were excellent dome quarterbacks. They both own a lot of single season passing records. This isn’t a knock on either player. Peyton proved that he could have the best regular season of his career back in 2013 with the Broncos, and he did. Though, when we discuss these new records, it’s something important to consider. Try throwing a football in the snow, during high winds, or extreme cold. Plus, the rules have also changed a lot over these last 30 years to favor offenses.

  4. Possibly the Best Fantasy Football Player of all time.

    If you had Brees for a 10 year window you were almost unstoppable, as not many in that era could hang with the stats he was putting up.

    Now the league and skill level has changed and over half the QBs in the league are putting up 300 yards a week on the regular. He was a game changer for sure.

  5. Not to rain on Brees’ retirement but Doug Flutie did more for Kyler Murray than Drew Brees.

  6. As a Saints fan I never would’ve imagined winning a SB prior to Brees coming here. Thanks to Drew Brees and company I will die a happy man. Brees means so much more than just a QB to this city! Thank you for everything Drew! NOLA loves you!

    Who Dat for Ever!

  7. godkingskovald says:
    March 15, 2021 at 11:36 am
    Not to rain on Brees’ retirement but Doug Flutie did more for Kyler Murray than Drew Brees.
    ————-

    Correct. Flutie is a much better comparison to Murray. But Wilson did more for Murray than either Flutie or Brees.

  8. Great player for the NFL. Too small my A**.

    I bet San Diego never got over it.

    Good luck #9.

  9. 6-8 playoff record as a Saint if you remove the Super Bowl year.
    5-7 since 2009.
    9-9 career record.

  10. I remember he had that injury with the Chargers so there was a slight risk signing him as a FA. The Dolphins were going to sign him but the injury scared them off.

    Great signing by the Saints, he fitted right into the system that Payton had. Great QB, glad he won a SB

    I feel so old, remember him playing for the Chargers over 15 years ago, ouch

  11. collectordude says:
    March 15, 2021 at 11:50 am
    6-8 playoff record as a Saint if you remove the Super Bowl year.

    ——-
    Why should we remove a super bowl year?

  12. Never forget that Slick Rick Spielman had a chance to make Drew Brees the franchise QB for the Vikings back in ’06, but felt his shoulder was too much of a liability.

  13. PSJ3809
    I feel so old, remember him playing for the Chargers over 15 years ago, ouch

    I’ll make you feel better. I remember when Archie Manning was the Saints QB.
    Double ouch!

  14. jameshodges says:
    March 15, 2021 at 11:31 am
    Both Peyton Manning and Drew Brees were excellent dome quarterbacks. They both own a lot of single season passing records. This isn’t a knock on either player. Peyton proved that he could have the best regular season of his career back in 2013 with the Broncos, and he did. Though, when we discuss these new records, it’s something important to consider. Try throwing a football in the snow, during high winds, or extreme cold. Plus, the rules have also changed a lot over these last 30 years to favor offenses.
    ————————————————-

    Yes, but Brees is the only one that had multiple seasons as the article states. Seems by your logic more QBs that have a done as the home stadium would be replicating what Brees did and they are not. Maybe it actually has something to do with how good Brees actually was.

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