Drew Brees: Why the Underrated Quarterback Will Solidify Elite Status in '09

Old AccountSenior Writer IJune 27, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 28:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints looks to throw a pass against the Carolina Panthers on December 28, 2008 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Drew Brees entered the National Football League in 2001.

He was drafted in the second round by the San Diego Chargers, who did need help at the quarterback position.

In his rookie season, he did not get a shot of running the offense, appearing in only one game that season.

However, his work ethic landed him the starting gig in 2002 and he would never look back.

He threw for 3,284 yards, 17 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, a year which you could compare to the Ravens Joe Flacco that he had when taking his first snaps as quarterback.

The 2003 season worsened, as he threw for only 2,108 yards, 11 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and he had a passer rating of 67.5.

The organization began to think a new quarterback was needed and they went on to draft Philip Rivers.

The pressure was on Brees, and he performed up to task in his next two seasons.

In 2004, he won Comeback Player of the Year honors, passing for 3,159 yards, 27 touchdowns on only seven interceptions, which led to a 104.8 passer rating.

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The 2005 season led to his career year in passing yards with 3,576, along with 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in that season.

However, a season-ending injury in 2005 ended his stint with the Chargers, who made Rivers their quarterback.

Brees went big financially in the off season, finding his new home named the New Orleans Saints, and signed for a six year, $60 million contract.

His first season in New Orleans exceeded expectations, as he led the league with 4,418 yards, was third in the league with 26 touchdown passes, while only throwing 11 interceptions.

Brees was the runner up in the MVP voting, which helped the Saints surge to the playoffs.

In his first playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he didn't put up the high stats as in previous games, yet they advanced to the NFC Championship Game against the Chicago Bears, where they did come up short.

He had similar stats in the 2007 season, with 4,423 yards, 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

Yet, he established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the league after his 2008 performance.

He passed for a league high 5,069 yards, just 15 yards short of the single-season passing record held by Dan Marino. This season also included 34 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

The Saints failed to make the playoffs in 2008, one that was led with woes on the defensive side on the ball, which was one of the more in-consistent groups in the league.

There were also questions on the offense. Reggie Bush was set-back again with an injury, while the receiver group didn't play up to the potential in seasons past.

Even with those issues, Brees still found the way to be the top quarterback in the NFL last season, and joins the elite class of quarterbacks.

Wait a minute there.

Actually, there are people who still don't consider Brees a top five quarterback, and I still find it hard to find why.

His career stats post as 26,258 yards, 168 touchdowns, 99 interceptions, with a 89.4 passer rating.

Yes, the interceptions have gotten in his way, nor has he thrown over 40 touchdowns once in his career.

However, only once in his career in a 16 game season has he thrown for under 3,000 yards passing.

He has one playoff win to his credit, led his team to the NFC title game, and came up short of a Super Bowl run.

You also need to consider that Brees never had a top target to throw to like the other quarterbacks.

Marques Colston is the most talented receiver that comes to mind, but just being a one to crack a top 25 list, he can not always be counted on as a big threat.

He has put up enough quality numbers to be listed as a top five quarterback, and deserves to be in the discussion of the elite class.

Drew Brees will statistically be one of the top quarterbacks in the league again, nearing 4000 yards, 30 touchdowns, and around 15 interceptions.

Matt Miselis is a writer for BleacherReport.com.

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