Is Drew Brees Still an Elite NFL Quarterback?

Jamal Collier@@JCollierDAnalyst IIIDecember 13, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 11:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints quiets down the crowd during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 11, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Falcons 31-27(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Drew Brees is having an incredibly forgettable season as a member of the New Orleans Saints, but he’s still an elite member of the NFL quarterback fraternity. He’s on pace this season to match his career-worst 22 interceptions, mainly on the strength of his career-high five picks in a Thursday Night Football loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

His stats haven’t been up to par with what we’ve come to expect from Brees, but how many other quarterbacks would put up the numbers that he does in his current situation?

Through 13 games, he’s thrown for 4,028 yards—surpassing a milestone that a lot of quarterbacks won’t reach this season even in this pass-happy NFL—32 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

Brees’ Total Quarterback Rating of 63.2 (on a scale of one to 100) places him 13th among qualified quarterbacks, trailing rookies Robert Griffin III (71.3; fourth), Andrew Luck (67.4; ninth) and Russell Wilson (64.8; 10th). Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos currently leads the league with an 82.4 Total QBR.

New Orleans’ veteran QB is completing his lowest percentage of passes (61.7) since the 2003 season, before he was a member of the Saints. Maybe his depressed numbers are, in part, due to uncharted territory at the head coach position: Head coach and renowned offensive mind, Sean Payton, hasn’t been with the team all season due to a well-documented suspension.

Payton and Brees entered the Saints organization together in 2006.

On the other side of the ball rests a defense that is allowing 436.9 yards per game, 42.4 YPG more than the second-worst team in the NFL. The Saints are also allowing 24.2 points per game, 0.9 PPG more than the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are also second-worst in yards per game allowed.

So Brees is always throwing, and his opponents know he rarely has a choice. New Orleans has the third-fewest rushing attempts (289) in the league, leading the Arizona Cardinals (287) and Oakland Raiders (280).

The Saints are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for third in the NFL with 536 passing attempts. Only the Detroit Lions (592) and Indianapolis Colts (537) have thrown the ball more. Brees’ touchdown-to-interception ratio (1.78) blows the other guys out of the water.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford's ratio is 1.42  (17 TD, 12 INT), Dallas gun-slinger Tony Romo’s is 1.25 (20 TD, 16 INT), and Colts rookie Andrew Luck’s is 1.00 (18 TD, 18 INT).

There’s a reason that there’s no push to find Brees’ heir apparent—or demand for Chase Daniel to take over the signal-calling duties.


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