Last Sunday morning I left for a leadership retreat that left me without internet access until I returned home on Wednesday afternoon. After I checked my e-mail and facebook, I quickly came to my favorite website to learn what was happening with the Patriots. I scanned Marima's amazing Daily Links, read some of the headlines, then went on a quick internet blitz to get some quick entertainment. I typed in coldhardfootballfacts.com and went to read the often misguided but usually hilarious posts that have littered their front page this offseason. That's when I came upon the below headline.
Drew Brees May Be Best QB Of His Generation
I can't lie, I bit. I clicked and had to find out who would write such a thing. In my mind, there was no way that they could ever actually believe something like that. They were one of Tom Brady's biggest supporters way back when it wasn't cool to do so. It had to be a mistake. But then I clicked it, and plain as day there stood the title:
Move Over Tom & Peyton: Drew Brees May Be Best Quarterback Of His Generation
Now even though they were promoting their site using a headline that was very similar to the type of garbage that gets strewn about the front page of ESPN, they ran away with their tails between their legs very fast when a question was raised by a twitter user.
- Kerry J. Byrne @footballfacts13h
You can argue @drewbrees belongs in convo for best QB of his generation @Saints http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/content/move-over-tom-peyton-drew-brees-may-be-best-quarterback-his-generation/24180/ …Expand
- Daniel Hooley @DanielHooley13h Expand
- Kerry J. Byrne @footballfacts12h Hide conversation Details
That certainly was fast. They sure backed off from that claim. To say "1 reason we always said Brady best" when publishing and promoting that Brees is better within the same hour is pretty spineless. The purpose of this isn't to knock CHFFs and nothing else. The purpose is to address the points they used that lacked merit.
The first attempt that the CHFFs use to make their claim regards the better defenses that Brady and Manning have been paired with over the porous ones Brees has had to deal with. Since I have no interest whatsoever in bringing Manning into this, I am leaving him out.
Some of those defenses Brees played with in San Diego were bad. In 2002, they were 22nd in points allowed and 30th in yards allowed. In 2003, they were 31st in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed. Of course, what isn't mentioned is that the Chargers offenses were pretty bad themselves. In 2002, they were 20th in scoring and 16th in yards, and in 2003 they were 16th in points and 14th in yards. But the CHFFs weren't just talking about those years, they seemed to be attacking all of Brees' defenses.
In his 11 years as a starting quarterback (2002-05 with Chargers; 2006-2012 with Saints), he’s played with a top 10 defense in either scoring or total defense just once: the 2010 Saints ranked No. 7 in scoring D and No. 4 in total D.
Every other unit he’s been paired with has been fairly porous. Most have down-right sucked Bourbon Street gutter water.
The Chargers defense was ranked 11th in scoring in 2004 and 13th in 2005. With the Saints, he had the 13th ranked scoring defenses in 2006 and 2011. If these defenses fall within the category of "fairly porous", then the same should be attributed to the offenses led by Brees.
Four times a Drew Brees led team has failed to be in the top 10 in scoring offense. Those four seasons were 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2010. I doubt anyone would suggest that those offenses were "fairly porous", but if they did that would almost solely fall on the shoulders of the quarterback.
The reason most try and attribute the success of Tom Brady to the defense is because they can't make a good comparison for their guy versus Brady on offense. Instead of measuring a player by the performance of what they have control over, in this case the offense, they try and blame a unit they believe to be sub-par, even leading to such stupid conclusions as the ones the CHFFs came to. If you're wondering why I didn't even bother using defensive yards allowed, it is because CHFFs decided to discredit their importance in their own piece.
As an aside, the vast gap between the scoring defenses Brady has played with and their rank in total defense is a testament to the fact that New England coach Bill Belichick’s teams are masters of the "bend but don’t break" defense. Belichick's Patriots consistently average in the bottom half of the league in total defense, but consistently average in the top 10 of the league where it matters most, in scoring defense.
If scoring defense matters most, why include how many yards are allowed? Well, it is because they started with an idea and had to find some way to run with it. They even mentioned the fact that Drew Brees played the entire season in 2012 without a head coach. While they made no effort to try and show why not having a coach matters, they sure seem to want us to believe it is an achievement worthy of merit.
Then the CHFFs contradict themselves by using efficiency numbers in one spot to say that Brees really doesn't throw THAT MANY interceptions, but then use volume numbers to explain why his passing touchdowns from 2011 to 2012 should be something we all ooh and aah over. I guess that's the way it goes sometimes.
What should be important in a comparison of quarterbacks is the situations they were in. As CHFFs mentions in those tweets with Daniel Hooley, Brees has played over half of his games in his career in a dome. I am not sure if that is correct or not, but I know for a fact that Brees has attempted more passes in his career outside. But that isn't a point worth making. A point worth making is that it is far easier to throw the ball efficiently inside than out. Below is Drew Brees' career performance outside and inside, with passer rating highlighting the inflation in efficiency that is created by playing in a cozy, controlled environment.
|Drew Brees||Comp.||Att.||Yards||TDs||INTs||Passer Rating|
Drew Brees has thrown 45% of his career attempts indoors. Since his average attempt indoors has a passer rating nearly 10 points higher than his outdoor rating, it is obvious that the more he throws indoors, the higher his passer rating will be. But what about Tom Brady? How many attempts has he thrown indoors versus outdoors and does it significantly effect his career numbers?
|Tom Brady||Comp.||Att.||Yards||TDs||INTs||Passer Rating|
While Brees has thrown over 45% of his passes indoors, where he enjoys passing at a much higher efficiency, Tom Brady has not enjoyed such a luxury. Brady has thrown just a shade over 7% of his total career passes indoors, an environment that he plays exceptionally well in, and even better in than Brees.
Just to add one more nugget of information, Tom Brady has played only one game indoors in the last three seasons (2010-2012). In that game, a 45-24 drubbing of the Detroit Lions, Brady completed 22 of 27 passes for 341 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a 158.3 passer rating, a rating that is considered "perfect" by the passer rating formula. From 2010-2012, the Patriots scored over 500 points three times, which has never been done by any team more than three times other than the Patriots (the Pats have 4: 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012). In the other 47 games, Tom Terrific had 1102 completions in 1713 attempts (64.3%) for 13621 yards, 105 touchdowns and 24 interceptions for a 103.42 passer rating. While Brady has been superb in his career regardless of the elements, Brees hasn't been. The dome was the best thing to ever happen to Drew Brees. If you were wondering what their career comparisons were, just look below.
Even with the advantage of playing in a dome, Brees has a career passer rating less than Mr. Brady. While CHFFs mention that Brady has a lower interception rate than Brees, they try to make light of it. However, Brees has thrown 42 more interceptions than Brady in 7 less games over their careers. To help you understand just how big a number that is, Tom Brady has never thrown for more than 40 interceptions over any three-year span in his career.
It isn't just that Brees has thrown so many more interceptions than Brady. Brees also has a tendency to throw interceptions that get returned for touchdowns. Over the course of Brees' career, he has thrown an interception that got returned for a touchdown in the regular season in 18 times in 15 different games. Brady, on the other hand, has only thrown nine interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Brady has also never had a game when he threw more than one interception returned for a touchdown. Brees has three such games.
One last thing CHFFs tries to mention is Brees' unprecedented accuracy while putting up huge stats.
Perhaps most impressively, Brees has put up pinball-sized passing totals with unprecedented accuracy. Brees, in fact, owns the two most accurate seasons in NFL history, completing 71.23 percent of his passes in 2011 and 70.62 percent in 2009. His career mark of 65.6 percent is third best in history.
Yes, Brees has completed passes with the best in history, but the dome has certainly played a factor. Before going to the New Orleans Saints, Brees had spent five seasons with the San Diego Chargers. While playing in San Diego isn't the equivalent of playing in a dome, it certainly isn't the equivalent of playing in Foxboro either. Drew Brees' completion percentage before getting a comfortable dome was 62.2%, a number good for sixteenth all time just below Carson Palmer, a far cry from 65.6% and third best in history. He might be completing passes at a historic rate now, but that does not overshadow the accomplishments that Tom Brady has had over the last thirteen seasons.
Drew Brees is a heck of a quarterback. He is talented, and helped to bring the New Orleans Saints a Super Bowl while preventing Peyton Manning from getting second. For that, I applaud him. But there is absolutely no reasonable argument to suggest that Drew Brees was the best quarterback of his generation over Tom Brady. In this regard, CHFFs done goofed.