This YouTube makes the case for Brees getting GOAT status. And it’s an awfully good case.
What we’ll say is that Breezus absolutely deserves to be in the conversation. We don’t know just yet whether he gets the brass ring, because he’s not finished.
But statistically, yes – Brees’ numbers on passing yardage, touchdowns and completion percentage are as good as anybody in the history of the game, and there is no reason to think he won’t maintain his current high standard for the rest of his career.
The most convincing piece of the video is, of course, the recognition that Brees’ supporting cast hasn’t been in the same ballpark with that of the others whose names have usually been put forth as the greatest QB ever. Joe Montana had Jerry Rice, after all. Roger Staubach had Drew Pearson. Terry Bradshaw had John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. Dan Marino had Mark Clayton and Mark Duper. Tom Brady had Wes Welker, Randy Moss and Rob Gronkowski. Peyton Manning had Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. And so on.
Who has Brees had? Well, the club’s all-time leading receiver was Marques Colston, who never made a Pro Bowl. For a while Jimmy Graham was considered the best tight end in football, and then the Saints traded him to Seattle where he disappeared, and Ben Watson more or less replaced Graham without missing much of a beat. Colston was replaced by Michael Thomas, who might supplant Joe Horn as the “best” wide receiver the Saints have ever had, but most of the receivers Brees has turned into superstars are anything but. Look at the year Ted Ginn, Jr. is having this year, for example – Ginn is, with two games left in the season, only 10 catches short of the best year he’s ever had as an NFL wide receiver, and when the Saints picked him up from Carolina he was seen as on his way out of the league. Ginn replaced Brandin Cooks, a first-round draft pick who looked like he was going to become the Saints’ GOAT wide receiver but was traded to New England this past off-season.
And Cooks for the Patriots has seen his numbers drop precipitously. Through 14 games he’s only got 58 catches, after catching 84 and 78 the previous two years with Brees.
It’s an excellent argument. Had Brees the benefit of a Jerry Rice or Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss all this time – or, for example, had the Saints’ front office not done the amazingly stupid thing of drafting Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Batiste rather than LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft (Landry has gone on to catch more passes than any wide receiver in the first four years of an NFL career than anyone, despite suffering from mediocre quarterback play at best), his job might have been far, far easier and his numbers even more stratospheric.
A perfect example was Sunday’s win over the New York Jets, in which Brandon Coleman – a rookie free agent four years ago who for some reason has stuck around as a developmental project based only on his 6’6″ frame, so far as we can tell – fumbled not once but TWICE deep in enemy territory when the Saints were driving to put the game away. No other quarterback in this conversation has had to make do with as many low-profile supporting cast players as Coleman, Willie Snead (signed after spending his rookie year as an undrafted free agent on the Cleveland Browns practice squad), Josh Hill and others. Even Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas, whom Brees made into stars, were undrafted free agents who didn’t succeed elsewhere.
Not to mention how many championships Brees might have won if the Saints had any defense whatsoever. Sean Payton has never had any defense to speak of in New Orleans; when the Saints managed to be barely average on defense, as is the case this year, they’ve usually won the division.
We won’t go as far as the video and say Brees is in fact the GOAT. We will say the argument can’t be dismissed. And if he manages to put this year’s Saints team on his back and take it to a Super Bowl title, it’s going to be hard to argue anything other than that he’s the best who ever played the game.