clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Revelation #9: Drew Brees, Tom Brady Still Among Best QBs in the Game

New, comments

Stats don't lie - Brees is still balling, but are we even surprised?

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Dunnells recently shared how Drew Brees made #30 in the NFL's Top 100 Players of 2016, a program which asks players to rank their "peers" and which snubbed guys like Jimmy Graham and Matt Forte in the past. #30 is respectable - top-third in the league among all active players - but for Brees it's downright laughable. Ben Roethlisberger, despite missing 4 games, ranked 9 spots higher at #21 on the list.

Sure, yeah, Big Ben is a good QB as are Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and the reigning MVP, Cam Newton - the last three are surely to rank in the top-20 over the next two weeks. Part of what makes grading players so painfully subjective are the intangible and incalculable factors, like surrounding players, experience, schemes that are used, coaching staff, a pinch of luck, and Ryan Fitzpatrick's beard.

As a devout but clearly highly objective and unbiased New Orleans Saints fan, I decided to have a look at how our guy compared to the other QBs around the league using the unassailable power of statistics. For QBs, I looked at the NFL.com stats page and ranked the top 5 QBs for each of the following stats -

  • Total completions
  • Completion %
  • Total yards
  • Yards per completion
  • Yards per game
  • Total touchdowns
  • Fewest total interceptions
  • Interceptions thrown per attempt
  • Total first downs
  • Completions over 20 yards
  • QB rating
I had to impose some minimums or else Chase Daniel dominates this list with his 100% completions and 0 interceptions (on 2 attempts). So, for stats pertaining to attempts, I decided at least 500 - the top 15 QBs. For those pertaining to completions, I decided at least 250 would be a good starting point.

The scoring system was simple. For each category, I listed the top 5 guys and each was given a score corresponding to their position. Brees gets 5 points in the total yards category (because he was tops in the league), Matt Ryan gets 1 point for finishing in 5th place. In the event of a tie, those two players get the same point value. Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger were tied for 2nd in yards per completion, so they each get 4 points. I add all the scores up across all the categories, and see who has the highest score.

This is an imperfect process, obviously, but what it does is it aggregates the statistical performance of these QBs across (arguably) the most relevant categories we use to judge them. I doubted using the QB rating category because it is itself a composite score, but I erred on keeping it because a) it acts as a sort of internal control, and b) it turns out, at least per this ranking process, its impact was negligible. Also, I could have adjusted some of the stats by their sample size (such as completion %), but that's just getting obnoxious, so I said 'neh'.

Without further ado.

Player Rank (aggregate score)

  1. Tom Brady (29)
  2. Drew Brees (29)
  3. Carson Palmer (23)
  4. Philip Rivers (16)
  5. Russell Wilson (15)
  6. Andy Dalton (13)
  7. Ben Roethlisberger (11)
  8. Blake Bortles (9)
  9. Aaron Rodgers (8)
  10. Matt Ryan (8)
  11. Kirk Cousins (7)
  12. Alex Smith (5)
  13. Cam Newton (4)
  14. Eli Manning (4)
  15. Matt Stafford (2)
  16. Ryan Tannehill (2)

Caveats?

Well, if you asked me to rank the top QBs in the league from the top of my head, it wouldn't mirror the above. It'd probably look something like -

  1. Brees
  2. Brees
  3. Brady
  4. Brees
  5. Rodgers
Again, these are statistical rankings. I acknowledge that Cam Newton is a very potent threat and I didn't feel like his MVP was undeserved. Rodgers had an off year, Big Ben dealt with injury, Rivers dealt with zero receivers by the end of the season and Russell Wilson was sacked something like 940 times.

Brees' Stats Breakdown

  • Total completions: Second place (428) behind only Rivers who had 437
  • Completion %: Second place (68.3%) behind Cousins' 69.8%
  • Total yards: First place with 4,870
  • Yards per completion: 5th place at 7.8 yards/completion. Carson Palmer was first with 8.7
  • Yards per game: Second place (324.7) behind Big Ben's 328.2
  • Total touchdowns: Didn't place. Brees had only 32, Brady had the most (36) and the other four had 35
  • Fewest interceptions thrown: Didn't place. Brees threw 11 compared to 5th place Rodgers' 8. Alex Smith threw the fewest (7)
  • Interceptions thrown per attempt: Brady placed first throwing, on average, one interception per 89 attempts last year. Brees placed third, throwing, on average, one interception per 57 attempts
  • Total first downs: Fourth place with 228. Palmer placed first with 231
  • Completions over 20 yards: Second place with 81 behind Bortles' 83.
  • QB rating: Didn't place. Wilson was 1st with a QBR of 110.1

Conclusions

Brees still pwns. He's 37 and "six feet" tall, yet, somehow, with receivers like Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman he consistently makes the best of his situation. Perhaps not fielding a winning team since 2013 impacts his perception around the league, but Brees is still, at least in statistical terms, one of the best dang QBs around.

I set out to write this very article before doing any of the analysis. I knew, having watched every game last season, that Brees still has it. I won't comment on the ongoing contract talks because I don't know jack, but suffice to say I'm pleased #9 is on my team, is still shredding the competition, and his comrade at the top is one of the greatest QBs ever who himself has looked as good as ever.

What do you think? Who was the best QB in the NFL in 2015?

If you want a breakdown of any of the above categories please leave a comment.