Drew Brees: 5 Quarterbacks Who Can Break Saints QB's New NFL Passing Record
Congratulations to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees for becoming the new record holder for most passing yards in a regular season with 5,087 yards in just 15 games.
Now that the congratulations are out of the way, it's time to take a look at quarterbacks in the NFL who have the potential to steal that record away from Drew Brees within the next few years.
The NFL is quickly becoming the "no-defense" league, doing everything in its power to protect quarterbacks and give serious advantages to wide receivers, which will ultimately benefit these quarterbacks who will be pursuing Drew Brees' newest NFL record in the upcoming years.
Here are five quarterbacks who have the offensive talent around them and the intangibles it will take to break Drew Brees' NFL record of passing yards in a regular season, in the next few years.
Honorable Mention: Stanford QB Andrew Luck
Here's a guy who, based on collegiate production and quite a bit of hype, has the potential to be one of the next NFL greats at the quarterback position. In his final two years as the Cardinal's starting quarterback, Luck averaged production to the tune of 3,254 yards in 12 games each season with an average completion percentage of 70.4.
While I know that production isn't close to the new NFL passing record of 5,087 yards, it does show that Andrew Luck has the accuracy and ability to produce what it takes to be a solidified star in the NFL.
I'd put my money on Andrew Luck becoming a Pro Bowl quarterback in the NFL in the next two to three years, and with the right talent around him I think he has what it takes to give Brees and his new passing record a run for his money.
Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers is without a doubt one of the best three quarterbacks in the NFL, aside Drew Brees and Tom Brady. In four years as a starter with the Green Bay Packers, Rodgers has thrown for an average of 4,259 yards each one of those years, and he's done so with an average completion percentage of 65.6.
The one thing that Rodgers needs to improve if he wants to make a run at the Drew Brees' record is his accuracy. While his accuracy isn't terrible at a career average of completing 65.4 percent of his passes, it isn't nearly accurate enough when it comes to thinking about breaking the "yards in a season" NFL record.
Good news for the Packers and Rodgers is that Rodger's production in 2011 through 15 games has been nothing short of amazing with 4,643 passing yards. It's not inconceivable that Rodger's 2011 regular season could end with 5,000-plus passing yards, and if it does, it solidifies him as a quarterback with the potential to break Drew Brees' new record.
Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan
2011 has been a great year for Matt Ryan. In only his fourth season in the NFL, he has led the Falcons to their third playoff appearance in the last four years while throwing for 4,071 yards with a completion percentage of 61.2. Matt Ryan's production has steadily increased in his four NFL seasons, and I see no reason why it won't continue to do so in the future.
The Falcons have great wide receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White who will help Ryan solidify the Falcons' passing attack in the upcoming years. The only issue for the Falcons will be trying to find a replacement for tight end Tony Gonzalez when he retires in the next few years. Until then, Matt Ryan has every piece in place for him to be one of the league's best quarterbacks, making him a contender to throw for more yards than Brees has thrown for this season.
Matt Ryan must increase his completion percentage if he wants to have any shot of reaching the 5,000 yard mark in the next few years, but if he does that there's no reason to believe that he can't make a run at Brees' new record for passing yards in a regular season.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford
It's hard to believe that Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has only started a total of 28 games in the NFL. In 2011, Stafford has thrown for 4,518 yards with a completion percentage of 63.7. When you compare his 2011 statistics against his 2009 statistics (Stafford only played three games in 2010) of 2,267 yards and 53.3 completion percentage, it's amazing to see his improvement in just two years.
What is keeping Stafford from turning the corner is his proclivity to throwing turnovers—14 on the year which is 10th most in the NFL. Stafford must keep his interceptions thrown per year in the single digits if he wants to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL in addition to being able to break Drew Brees' passing record.
It's amazing that in only his third year in the NFL, Stafford already has thrown for over 4,500 yards in a single regular season. As long as Stafford has wide receiver Calvin "Megatron" Johnson and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, he will have the potential to break the NFL record for passing yards in a regular season.
New York Giants QB Eli Manning
Eli Manning has quietly thrown for 4,587 yards with a completion percentage of 60.3 in the 2011 season. His career-high production has been nothing short of impressive and has helped the Giants, who have the league's worst rushing offense, come within one game of earning a playoff spot.
It's amazing to think of how high Manning's production could be this year if the Giants actually had a rushing attack that defenses took seriously. The one thing that Manning has to work on if he wants to ever have a chance of breaking Drew Brees' new passing record is cutting down on throwing interceptions. In 2011 Manning has thrown 16 interceptions, the 5th highest in the NFL.
In addition to throwing less interceptions, Manning also will have to increase his completion percentage from floating around 60.0 percent to at least 68.0 percent. If the Giants can establish a resemblance of a rushing attack within the next year or two, it is realistic to think that Eli Manning can make a run at Drew Brees' new record for passing yards in a regular season. Manning almost did that this year with the Giant's averaging only 88.1 yards per game, which is incredibly impressive.
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady
I don't need to tell you how great Tom Brady is, right? He's a lock for the Hall of Fame, and out of all current quarterbacks playing in the NFL he is the quarterback who is a lock to break Drew Brees' new passing record.
During the 2011 season Tom Brady has thrown for a league second-best 4,897 yards, only 190 yards short of Brees' current NFL record of 5,087 passing yards in a season. If for some reason the Saints sat Drew Brees in Week 17 and the Patriots play Tom Brady for all four quarters of their regular-season finale, it is realistic that Tom Brady could break Brees' record this season. While that is highly unlikely, it does prove that Tom Brady is more than capable of being the guy to break Drew Brees' record.
With the emergence of tight end Rob Gronkowski and the continued success of wide receiver Wes Welker, it is realistic that Tom Brady could break the record for regular-season passing yards in the next two to three years. Keep your eyes on Tom Brady and the NFL record book in the upcoming years.