The NFC’s Friday practice for Sunday’s Bowl Pro had just concluded and there stood Drew Brees.
Talk about another day in paradise.
And the analytical microscopes will only be focused on this pair even more this week as Wilson and the 10-1 Seahawks prepare to host Brees and the 9-2 Saints at CenturyLink Field in a “Monday Night Football” matchup between the teams with the best records in the NFC.
But back to that practice field at the Ihilani Ko Olina Resort on Oahu that used to be a putting green. Why not go for the chip shot and ask Brees how he felt about the comparisons between himself and Wilson. And the reply was surprising.
Before that could fully sink in, Brees went that one better, admitting that the season-long comparisons between himself and the Seahawks’ QB during Wilson’s rookie season had been “very flattering.”
Now that was saying a lot, because of who was saying it. Brees was a couple of days from playing in his seventh Pro Bowl; Wilson his first, as an injury replacement. Brees also has been voted All-Pro four times and not only won a Super Bowl but was the MVP in the Saints’ 31-17 victory over the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. Brees also broke a 27-year-old NFL record by passing for 5,476 yards in 2011 and holds the record for consecutive games with a TD pass (54; or 3.4 seasons).
That’s not only passing fancy, that’s passing productively and consistently.
This season, Brees is completing 68.3 percent of his passes (300 of 439) for 3,647 yards with 28 TD passes and eight interceptions for a 107.3 passer rating that ranks fourth in the league – and he’s already had games where he’s passed for 413 yards (against the Dolphins), 392 yards (against the Cowboys) and 382 yards (against the Jets), as well as five other 300-yard games – compared to one for Wilson.
Brees’ completions, passing yards and TD passes rank second to Manning (305, 3,722 and 36), now with the Broncos; and his completion percentage is third behind the Chargers’ Philip Rivers (70.8) and Manning (68.5). And Brees also leads the NFL in third-down passer rating (108.0; 75 of 115 for 1,024 yards with 10 TDs and four interceptions).
Wilson, meanwhile, is sixth in passer rating (105.1) and has completed 64 percent of his passes (176 of 275) for 2,362 yards with 19 TD passes and six interceptions. But he’s also run for 409 yards, which ranks second among NFL quarterbacks to the Raiders’ Terrelle Pryor (504).
But, from Brees’ vantage point, more important than the numbers Wilson has put up – and is putting up – is the person who’s doing it.
“I’ve been so impressed with the way he’s been able to play,” Brees said. “Mostly, I like the way he’s conducted himself throughout the process. He’s remained very humble. He’s so well-spoken. He gives credit to his teammates whenever he gets a chance. He’s very thankful for the opportunity he’s been given.
“You root for guys like that.”
“He’s a guy I love to watch,” Wilson said. “He does a lot of great things. I love learning from him. He’s a great person to talk to.”
And, see eye-to-eye with during those discussions.
“I think the fact that we both came into this league undersized and had to earn everything along the way and kind of beat the odds, so to speak, those are definitely some similarities,” Brees said.
But Brees wasn’t done just yet, as he offered, “Just to know that you’ve got that kind of influence on guys, especially guys like Russell who come into this league and play at that level, it’s a great honor.”
Next Monday night, the honor will be all ours, as we watch the teams with the best records in the conference go at in prime time with a couple of prime-time passers who are more than measuring up.