As part of our examination of clutch quarterback play, we've looked at Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. Now, we move on to a man often overlooked in these discussions: Drew Brees.
As we have with all of our quarterbacks, we will start with an examination of his playoff performances, and then proceed to situational statistics on Thursday.
|Reg. Season||Games||Comp. %||Yds/Attempt||Yds/Game||TD %||Int. %||Sack %||Rating|
|Playoffs||Games||Comp. %||Yds/Attempt||Yds/Game||TD %||Int. %||Sack %||Rating|
One of the interesting thigns about Brees' career is how much his displacement from San Diego to New Orlieans helped it. In San Diego, Brees showed flashes of ability, and even made it to the Pro Bowl in 2004. However, his value rose and fell year to year, even game to game. So, it's hard to be mad at the Chargers for letting an inconsistent quarterback such as Brees go after a major shoulder surgery in 2005, especially considering the inconsistencies for Brees during the year that year.
But, when Brees went to New Orleans to play under Sean Payton, he flourished. He became a perennial Pro Bowler, a player in the top 3-4 QBs every season. Before the Saints, Brees had never been a high-volume passer, never throwing for more than 3600 yards. Under Payton, Brees never threw under 4300.
As interesting as it is, this article is about Brees' playoff performances, not his career tendencies. Fortunately, this data is clear on that: Brees has played fantastic in the playoff.
Looking at it game by game gives us the same picture. Brees only has one game with a rating under 90, a tough NFC Championship Game against the Bears in 2006, where he had a rating of 83.2. This was after all, the Bears defense who was 3rd in the league in points allowed, and second in DVOA. That game was the only game where Brees performed poorly in the fourth quarter as well, although he did have a couple minor gaffes during his first playoff game in 2004.
Unlike the other quarterbacks we've looked at, Brees keeps his play from the regular season during the playoffs, not dropping dramatically or rising (although his level of play is high enough that raising it would be ridiculous):
But, if Brees is such a good playoff quarterback, then why is he so often overlooked when clutch quarterback play is discussed?
Well, one reason is the sheer volume of playoff experiences. Brees has only reached the playoff five times in his 11 years, one less than Roethlisberger, and tied with Eli Manning (although Manning has 12 games to Brees' 9), and those players have three less years in the league. In comparison to playoff regulars like Brady and Manning, Brees' numbers are underwhelming. The other factor in those numbers is the timing. QB mantras and reputations, although usually wrong, have their roots in the early parts of a players life. Brees only made the playoffs once in his first five years in the league, where as Eli and Big Ben took their teams 4 times in their first five years. So, Brees gets overlooked in the "playoff QB" discussion.
Another reason why Brees is overlooked is his TEAMS' lack of wins in the playoffs. Colts fans know this myth well, as we've had to fight it for years now. Unless a quarterback at least gets to Super Bowls, then his playoffs are seen as useless, and can even become a bad thing on a QBs resume. Brees is 5-4, and has only gotten to the conference championship twice, Super Bowl once. And again, those were later in his career.
If we took a poll right now, among NFL fans across the country and around the world, who would rank as the better playoff quarterback: Eli Manning or Drew Brees?
Odds are that Manning would rank higher. Yes, even though his completion percentage is over five points worse than Brees'. Yes, even though Brees' YPA is better. Yes, even though Brees 22:4 TD to Int. ratio is far better than Eli's 17:8 ratio. And yes, even though Eli's career playoff rating is almost 15 points worse than Brees (89.3 to 103.9).
But Eli has won two Super Bowls, and has that magical "clutch" factor. And Eli has done it more recently. And he's done it in fantastically memorable fashion, with two dramatic comeback wins.
And so, the myth continues.
But, I will insist that Drew Brees is by far the better playoff quarterback. Unlike the other players we've seen, Brees doesn't have the massive drops in production in the playoffs, keeping his high level of play in the post season. We don't know yet if Brees' play is good in the clutch overall (we'll look at that on Thursday), but we can say that he is very good in the playoffs, and should be recognized as such.
Drew Brees will go down as one of the greatest clutch QBs in NFL history statistically. Whether the ass clowns in the media ever recognize that, who cares. Like you said, unlike greats like Manning and Brady whose level of play goes down come playoff time, Drew steps it up from his already overly impressive regular season resume.
Win another Super Bowl, rack up the stats for another 5-7 years and he's a top 3 QB of all time behind only Montana and Brady and arguably only behind Montana.
Brees is a great quarterback, but in order to be recognized in the top 5, or even top 10, he would need to make up a lot of ground. He didn't start even being a Pro-Bowler until he went to the Saints, where he flourished under Payton's system.
@Kyle Rodriguez In the same vain, you have to take into consideration how poorly Peyton Manning has played for the majority of his playoff career. Dig up all the games in which his defense played more than well enough to win and he didn't do squat. Even in the Super Bowl run of 2006, Peyton had one of the worst statistical performances in the playoffs for a Super Bowl winning QB. That defense carried him just about all the way there, save the 2nd half of the AFC CG. Much the opposite case for Brees, in which the defense has let him down twice (against Seattle and San Francisco) as well as a missed game winning kick vs the Jets when he was in San Diego. None of it his fault. A 22-4 TD to Int ratio in the playoffs in only 9 games says it all. Give Drew the Pittsburgh Steelers defense during his tenure with the Saints and he would already have 3 or 4 Super Bowl rings. It's ultimately still a team game with things that are out of your control. Unfortunately for Drew.
I am unable to think of Playoff Brees without thinking ot the Super Bowl. And I am unable to think of the Super Bowl without thinking of Garcon's drop. And I am unable to think of Garcon's drop without getting sick. Thanks Kyle.
(Actually, I think what makes Brees so consistent regardless of regular season or playoffs is his accuracy. LIttle SOB can thread the needle.)
@DougEngland Don't forget the Marques Colston drop on the 2nd drive by the Saints. He catches that, the Saints are inside the Colts 35, 1st and 10. Garcon would have had a first down but had 2 Saint players in the vicinity to wrap him up at the Colt 35 yard line. Huge difference in the significance of those two drops, yet all we hear about is the Garcon drop. Funny.
@DougEngland Look forward to them taking a step back with a few guys gone and punishment coming.
@DougEngland Sorry, Doug. I know it's difficult to think about. I try to block that entire game out of memory.