Drew Brees Is Once Again Producing at a Historic Rate
Aaron Rodgers deserves to be mentioned with the above group even though he is not as far along in his career as they are, and numerous other quarterbacks deserve to have their careers mentioned in the conversation.
But one player who might consistently fly under-the-radar in such debate is Drew Brees.
Throughout NFL history, there have only been eight 5,000-yard passing seasons. Only Brees has multiple 5,000-yard passing seasons, as he accounts for four of the eight seasons.
While it is early in the season, five quarterbacks are on pace to top 5,000 yards in 2016. Not only is Brees on pace to top the mark, but also he is on pace to smash the record Manning currently holds with most passing yards in a single season.
Let's take a look at Brees' career to further understand just how great he is and to see if he can break the single-season record.
Breesing Through Time
Since joining the New Orleans Saints in 2006, Brees has thrown 30 or more touchdown passes in all but two seasons and has never thrown for fewer than 4,000 yards.
This is, in part, because of the team's affinity for running plays at a high volume and skewing toward the pass.
|Year||Plays||Pass to Run Ratio||Pass Plays|
During his tenure as quarterback for the Saints, the team has only finished outside the top 10 in plays once, pass-to-run ratio twice, and pass plays just once. Needless to say, the Saints have relied on Brees and put plenty of volume on the passing game while he has been with the team.
We can look at both traditional statistics and our primary metric, Net Expected Points (NEP), to see just how great Brees has been throughout his career and during his time with the Saints.
|Year||Team||Comp %||Pass Yd||Yd/Att||TD||INT||Drop Backs||Pass NEP||Pass NEP/play||Success Rate|
Based on traditional statistics, Brees has shown progression throughout his career, and he has never completed fewer than 63% of his passes since his third season. Furthermore, Brees has never passed for fewer than 4,000 yards while playing in New Orleans.
Additionally, Brees has never thrown for fewer than 30 touchdowns since 2007 and has only thrown more than 20 interceptions once in his career. And, as the play rankings showed, Brees has only once (2006) taken fewer than 600 drop backs while in New Orleans.
Digging deeper, Brees' Passing NEP metrics correlate well with his traditional statistics.
2011 was his absolute best season, as he posted the third-best Passing NEP among 576 quarterbacks with at least 200 drop backs between 2000 and 2015. His Passing NEP per play and Passing Success Rate both ranked eighth among the same sample.
So just how well does this year stack up with his career, and can he keep pace?
2016 in a Brees
Brees is on pace for his most drop backs ever this year, almost 80 more than his previous record. Based on traditional efficiency, his current 8 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio is his personal best rate.
|Quarterback||Drop Backs||Pass NEP||Pass NEP/play||Pass Success Rate|
|Brees' Career Average||575||111.4||0.19||47.96%|
|NFL Average 2000-15||446||25.18||0.06||46.34%|
Moreover, while this is not his best year ever -- through three games, at least -- it remains better than his career average, which is better than the average NFL quarterback since 2000.
Among 72 wide receivers with at least 15 targets, Snead ranks 8th in Reception NEP (25.15), 1st in Reception NEP per target (1.48), and 1st in Reception Success Rate (100%) while Cooks ranks 33rd (16.27), 45th (0.63), and 65th (73.33%) in these categories, respectively.
Although the rankings do not look favorably for Cooks, his efficiency is on the same level as Amari Cooper's and places him around the league average in per-target efficiency.
Although Brees' performance is not at peak level, the passing volume is making up for the small drop in effectiveness.
Combined with Cooks and Snead leading the receiving charge, this volume should lead Brees to another record-setting year.