The Story of Brady and Brees: How Brady's New Chapter Creates a Matchup for the Books
By Carmen Vitali
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has an NFL record 17 division titles to his name. Whether win stats can really speak for a single player is up for debate but regardless, Brady is used to winning his division across his 20-year NFL career. That was all, however, with another team. To get number 18, he'll have some different factors with which to contend.
In a new division (and conference) for the first time in two decades, there is one guy in particular that wants to erase the chances of Brady adding to his record total: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Brees and Co. have won the NFC South six times since 2001 and they are currently on a three-year win streak, posting back-to-back 13-3 records the last two years. And while the Saints swept the season series with the Bucs last year, adding a sprinkle of redemption for the team on top of the already built-in storylines between Brady and Brees themselves, Brady hasn't faced the Saints since Week 2 of 2017. We've actually only ever seen these two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks face off five times, despite each being etched permanently, and prominently, into the NFL history books given their successes and similar length of league tenure.
In fact, the books in which each of their individual stories are written bear an almost eerie resemblance to one another. Brady, a notorious sixth-round pick out of the Big Ten's University of Michigan, entered the league in 2000. Brees, a fellow Big Tenner himself, came in a year later, selected in the second round by the San Diego Chargers out of Purdue.
And that's where the story of these two NFL quarterbacks begins.
What followed was chapter after chapter of records and successes. They now sit atop the league in all-time passing yards, registering as one and two on that list. Brees has the edge with 77,416 to Brady's 74,571. Brees also has more touchdowns, besting Brady's 541 with 547.
Accuracy tells another story.
Bucs Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles said during training camp that Brady throws good 'incompletions.' And while at first that may sound like your run-of-the-mill coach speak, what he means is that, if Brady's intended target can't catch the ball – neither can anyone else. That fact is showcased in Brady's absurdly low interception rate. Of quarterbacks that have attempted over 2,500 passes, Brady ranks second with just 1.8% of his throws resulting in an interception. Compare that to Brees, who has a still-impressive 2.3% interception rate, which ranks him seventh on the aforementioned list. Across his career, Brady has averaged just 0.6 interceptions per game, lower than Brees' 0.9. Brady's touchdown to interception ratio, in case you were wondering, is also top three: scoring 3.02 touchdowns per interception. Brees is right behind him at number four, scoring 2.31 per pick.
The results of that also contribute to Brady's production and efficiency. While Brees may have Brady by a mere six touchdowns overall, Brady has the most games with three or more touchdowns and no interceptions. A whopping 58 of them, to be exact. Brees comes in again right behind him with 53 such games.
Now, Brees has Brady in some other categories, too. For instance, Brees has a career average of 2.0 passing touchdowns per game where Brady has an average of… 1.9. Brees' career average passing yards per attempt is 7.6. Brady's average is 7.5.
Where you start to see a little parity is in passing yards per game and passing attempts per game. Brees averages 281.5 yards per game on an average of 36.9 attempts. Brady averages 261.7 on an even average of 35.0 attempts. Over time, those even marginal differences add up, to the tune of over 2,000 passing yards separating Brees from Brady.
However, now – in this brand-new chapter for Brady – they're in the same division and Brady has the opportunity to close those gaps. One has to fall for the other to succeed, after all. And Brady is more used to succeeding than anyone else in the NFL.
He has the best win percentage of any player with a minimum of 50 starts in the Super Bowl era, winning 74.4% of his contests. Like I said up top, he's won his division a record 17 times. He has a record six Super Bowl wins. He has the most comeback wins of any kind with 33. He also holds the record for most Player of the Week awards (30) and Player of the Month awards (10).
He is simply the ultimate competitor.
And now Brees is standing directly in his path.
He'll try to make headway as a force of his own starting this Sunday.