As soon as Drew Brees injured his shoulder, it sent into motion a serious domino effect that has forever set up an unfair comparison between Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. The Chargers had drafted Philip Rivers to push Brees and be his understudy. However, when Brees went down with his shoulder injury it was thought that he would never be elite again. In stepped the awkward young gun named Philip Rivers, and there was both an end to an era as well as a beginning.
Drew Brees was left looking for a job and went on visits with the Dolphins and Saints, while Rivers learned the playbook better and began to take the reigns. Since then, these two elite quarterbacks have been linked through a comparison that is unfair and is mostly wondering what could have been. We will compare these two through certain categories that will be: Leadership, Mobility, Arm Strength, and accuracy.
Both of these players are underrated in the mobility department. They both have elite pocket presence and know how to move in the pocket to make sure that the play does not end. Drew Brees has 690 rushing yards in his career with 13 touchdowns. He even has a receiving touchdown to throw into the mix. Only four out of his 14 seasons have resulted in less than 32 yards. He is constantly keeping plays alive and is seen as dangerous on the multiple bootlegs used in the New Orleans offense to neutralize his short stature. Philip Rivers has 512 career rushing yards with three touchdowns. Rivers is not as fast or elusive as Brees but is elusive enough in the pocket to make them regret coming in. In this department, Brees wins by a very small margin. Drew Brees: C+ Philip Rivers: C
Neither of these players are known for having an absolute cannon. However, both of these quarterbacks have made defenses pay with the deep ball. Since injuring his shoulder, Brees has lost some of his arm strength which can be seen in his less than stellar play outside of the Superdome. Rivers usually hits his deep passes off of play action or late in plays. Brees has troubles hitting deep or boundary when he is playing in an open stadium, while Rivers still has the same strength as he did just a few seasons ago. Because of this, Rivers wins this category. Drew Brees: B+ Philip Rivers: A-
This is where both of these players become elite. Both of these players have the accuracy to thread a needle and have done so for their whole careers. Both of these players use their accuracy to make up for their lack of arm strength. Very few interceptions are thrown and completion rates are high. Rivers has a 64.7% completion percentage while upholding a solid 2.6% pick rate. Now that pick rate is slightly inflated due to Norv Turner's insistence on throwing the deep ball multiple times a game. Drew Brees boasts a 66.2% completion rate with a solid 2.6% interception rate. Both of these players have benefitted from a west coast style offense of late that takes advantage of their accuracy to inflate their completion rates through short passes. Drew Brees: A+ Philip Rivers: A+
Both of these players are also great and emotional leaders. They both use their love of the game and fiery competitiveness to lead their teams to victory. Brees and Rivers have ice in their veins in the fourth quarter and have the clutch gene. Drew Brees has 36 game-winning drives to go with 25 comebacks. Philip Rivers has 23 game-winning drives and 20 comebacks under his belt as well. Brees has better results in the playoffs but that is a total team effort. However, the playoff success has to give an edge to Brees. Drew Brees: A+ Philip Rivers: A
Drew Brees: A- Philip Rivers: A- Both Quarterbacks grade out at A- at this point in their careers and have both had success. However, despite having solid teams during the height of the LT era, Rivers could not reach the Super Bowl. However, Brees has had the advantage of working in a more pass friendly environment and scheme that have helped him to have stellar statistics. If Brees had stayed, there is a chance he could have taken the Chargers to a Super Bowl. However, with the talent that has been ever in flux with the Chargers it is hard to say that that on top of an outdorr stadium would have allowed him to do much better than Rivers. Especially in a scheme like Turner's that has such a focus on the deep ball. Therfore there is no real debate. Both quarterbacks have great intangibles and either would have been able to go to the Super Bowl and have those stats given the scheme and environment in New Orleans due to the extreme similarity between their styles. It is important to see how similar these players are. Both dropped in the draft due to physical oddities between Brees' height and Rivers' Throwing motion. They both also have less than stellar power in their arms that is made up with elite accuracy. They are also both amazing and emotional leaders that are capable of leading game winning charges. Basically they are the same quarterback and give their teams basically the same thing.
All stats were used from http://www.pro-football-reference.com/