While this season’s leaders for passing touchdowns belong to a younger generation of NFL quarterbacks, the reps of the old guard, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, are still pulling their weight around, set on becoming the next quarterbacks that reach 500 career passing touchdowns.
The current situation? Brees has 487, Brady has 486. Brady has 30 this season, sitting behind Carson Wentz and Russell Wilson. A big day from Brady could give him the lead for this season and in the chase for 500. Brees has 22. Not because he isn’t good, but because the Saints changed the way they approach their offense for the first time. This will be his first sub-30 TD season since 2007. Brady’s lowest figure since missing the 2008 season was 25 last year, but he missed 4 games due to suspension.
So who gets there first? Obviously, we can’t predict what kind of offenses Sean Payton and Bill Belichick will decide to run next year, but assuming age doesn’t catch up with both of them (Brady and Brees are the two oldest starting QBs in the NFL), it’ll probably be a matter of the pass-run balance in their offense.
Looking back at the previous four seasons before this one for Brees, he averaged 2.23 touchdowns per game. This season it’s only 1.46. With previous years pace, he’d be 6 or 7 games away from joining Brett Favre (508) and Peyton Manning (539) as the only QBs with 500 passing TDs. Brady is averaging exactly 2 a game this season, and in the last few years as well. For him, it’s dead-on 7 games before he makes it to 500.
So who gets there first? Right now, we would assume it’s Brady, who also has 63 passing touchdowns in the playoffs (Brees has just 24). We keep expecting to see Brady start fading into retirement at some point, but he’s putting MVP numbers once more, and looks like the main contender along with his teammates to lift the Super Bowl trophy for a third time in four seasons. Brees and the Saints, for the first time in years, look like they’re worthy of being talked about as contenders in a stacked NFC South and conference in general.