[Editor’s note:  Today’s article is written by Brian from BeBetterNow.org, a site devoted to self improvement. Today, Brian attempts to help me improve myself for telling me why I’m wrong about Drew Brees being a Hall of Famer in our midst.]

Recently Kosmo asked the question Is Drew Brees a Hall of Famer?. In it he brought up some comparisons to Peyton Manning and made a very good case that Brees belongs in the Hall.

Pass Happy NFL and Trust in your QB

Kosmo brought up a great point:

Is Brees a product of a pass-happy era in the NFL? Sure. But there’s a reason why everyone isn’t racking up 4500 passing yards per year. Most coaches don’t trust their quarerback to throw the ball 650 times per year.

It’s worth looking at the pass-happy era of the NFL. The rules for contact have been changed over the years. You can barely touch the quarterback any more. If you get near a receiver it is pass interference. If you are a defensive player and there’s a likelihood of getting pass interference called on you, you naturally are going to play off the receiver a bit more. This gives the quarterbacks more room to complete passes.

If you look at career passer rating you’ll note that 19 of the top 30 are currently active in the league. Four of the remaining 11 retired last year (Bulger, Garcia, Culpepper, and Warner). Clearly passing is easier in this day and age. Interesting fact, Shaun Hill, who has been a back-up his entire career has a better rating than Elway, Aikman, and the aforementioned Staubach. Clearly it is a game where it is easier to get TDs, avoid interceptions, and complete more passes for a longer average. If it is easier to pass in today’s game, it is hard to compare Brees to players of previous eras.

As for trusting your quarterback to pass 650 times. I don’t buy it. When Peyton Manning had his best season in 2004 (121 QB Rating – the best ever), he only threw the ball 497 times. In Tom Brady’s best year (117.2 rating – highest scoring offense ever), he only threw the ball 578 times. Brady only topped 600 attempts one time – in 2002 when the team was 9-7 and some wondered if Brady was really talented at all. Peyton Manning never had 600 attempts in his career. Brees has thrown 630+ passes in 3 of the last 4 season… the exception being the champion season where he threw only 514 passes. I don’t think anyone could claim that Manning and Brady aren’t trusted to throw the ball.

Why does Drew Brees throw so much? I think it is because the games have been close or they have been playing catch-up. When the Saints flirted with going undefeated they could build up a quick lead and run the clock out. This year they’ve had to come from behind and endured many, many injuries to their running backs.

When looking at the number of passes, we should look at another player, Drew Bledsoe. His career ended early with his last full year at age 33. However, he did put up 44,000 yards and 251 TDs in that time in a less pass happy NFL. He did this mostly by passing a lot. Some make an argument for him to be in the Hall of Fame because he ranks in the top ten in a number of areas and beats out a number of current Hall of Famers. However, I think this article correctly points out that high volume doesn’t mean high efficiency.

It appears that Drew Brees is a combination of volume and efficiency, but I would caution against using numbers such as yards and TDs that tend to skew towards volume.

Is Brees a Hall of Famer?

Let’s get back to Kosmo’s original question. I think it might be closer than he thinks. Let’s review the numbers that Kosmo has for Brees, which I believe are fair, and compare them to others in his class:

Player Age Yards TDs QB Rating Proj. Yards Proj. TDs
Drew Brees 32 35,000 235 91.7 55,266 360
Philip Rivers 29 19,961 136 97.2 52,641 360
Aaron Rodgers 27 12,723 87 98.4 53,723 367
Ben Roethlisberger 28 22,502 144 92.5 46,502 288

Notes on the projected stats:

  • Philip Rivers – He is three years younger than Brees. Since we added 5 years to Brees, I added 8 for Rivers. Rivers has averaged 27.2 TDs for every 16 games he’s played, but in the last three years (when he stepped up his game) he’s averaged 30.6. I projected 28 on average for the next 8 years to account for some drop-off. Similarly Rivers averages 3930 yards per full season in his career, but over the last three years he has been averaging 4324 yards a season. I calculated a 4100 as his 8 year average.
  • Aaron Rodgers – It is extremely hard to project him because he only has a few seasons due to waiting out the Favre fiasco. However, I felt it would be short-sighted to leave him off the list. At age 27, he projects to play 10 more years to get to the age of 37 that we are predicting for all quarterbacks. With at least 28 TD in every season, I continued that for 10 years. With an average of 4131 yards over his full seasons, I added in 10 years of 4000 to account for some drop off – though he could get better before he gets worse.
  • Ben Roethlisberger – While he is age 28, he won’t be adding until his counting stats until he’s 29. Thus I’m going to pretend he’s 29 and treat him like Drew Brees – 8 years until age 37. Due to some injury problems and off-field issues, he’s averaged fewer games than some of the above players. He’s still averaging 3214 a season and 20 TDs. I conservatively estimated the next 8 years to average 3000 yards and 18 TDs.

Big Ben may look out of place, but because he wins games, I don’t think we can discount him as a potential Hall of Fame candidate. He already has 2 rings and could add a third before he turns 29. I think it is worth focusing on Rivers and Rodgers who are often mentioned with Brees in the next tier after Brady/Manning debate. Though we have to project Rivers and Rodgers more than Brees (and hence have less accuracy in our predictions), it should be noted that they might have very similar careers.

If you put one of them in the Hall, you may have to put them all. Are voters likely to say that we have 5-6 Hall of Fame quarterback in the league right now? Has Brees separated himself from the rest of the pack? I’m not sure.

If we see Brees in the Hall of Fame in a few years, I wouldn’t be surprised. If he puts up the numbers that Kosmo suggests and doesn’t make it, I wouldn’t call it a travesty either.

1 Comment

Share this article via email

This article was written by a guest writer, exclusively for The Soap Boxers. Check out all of our guest articles

Like this site? Subscribe via RSS, Subscribe via Email, or Follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

The permanent URL for this article is:
http://www.thesoapboxers.com/quarterbacks-and-the-hall-of-fame/