Saints By Position: Top 5 quarterbacks in franchise history

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Drew Brees TD record
(Photo: Parker Waters)

With the stay at home order issued Sunday, the cabin fever aspect of life has grown incrementally over the past 24 hours.

Do you feel the heat? Can you handle the slow burn?

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we flex out muscle in so many ways to prove that we can survive, drive ourselves and thrive.

We have time on our hands, it seems, perhaps too much time.

Tommy Shaw of Styx summarized the feeling of many of us, including several I have spoken with in the last few days, in the hit song “Too Much Time on My Hands.”

“Is it any wonder I’m not crazy?
Is it any wonder I’m sane at all?
Well, I’m so tired of losing, I got nothing to do
And all day to do it
Well, I’d go our cruisin’, but I’ve got no place to go
And all night to get there
Is it any wonder I’ve got too much time on my hands?
It’s ticking away with my sanity
I’ve got too much time on my hands
It’s have to believe such a calamity
I’ve got too much time on my hands
And it’s ticking away, ticking away from me
Too much time on my hands
And I don’t know what to do with myself.”

With too much time on my hands and a fan of Styx (though I would love to see the group reunite with Dennis DeYoung for one last ride), here is another piece of New Orleans Saints history to enjoy over the next couple of weeks.

Over the next 16 days, we will take a look at the top five players in New Orleans Saints history at each position on the field, combining the linebacker spot (inside and outside), along with kick return and punt return specialists.

That will include quarterback, fullback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, guard, tackle, center, defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, safety, kicker, punter and kick/punt return specialists.

Today, we start with the most important position on the field.

Top 5 quarterbacks in New Orleans Saints history:

1) Drew Brees
2) Bobby Hebert
3) Archie Manning
4) Aaron Brooks
5) Bill Kilmer

Choosing the top quarterback in New Orleans Saints history is easy.

Drew Brees has set many NFL records and is well on his way to enhancing his already complete resume for the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he retires. Brees will easily earn Saints Hall of Fame honors and Saints Ring of Honor recognition when he finally retires.

The most accurate passer in league history has taken eight teams to the playoffs in New Orleans and took a San Diego Charger team the playoffs as well. He has led the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl championship and to three NFC championship games.

Brees was brilliant in Super Bowl XLIV, earning Most Valuable Player honors as the Saints beat the favored Indianapolis Colts 31-17.

The Purdue product is still going strong at the age of 41. He set an NFL record for highest completion percentage in league history in 2018 and just missed eclipsing his own record in 2019.

Brees has the most passing yards in NFL history (74,437), the most 5,000 yard passing seasons (5), the most consecutive 4,000 yard passing seasons (12), the highest completion percentage in a single season (74.4 in 2018) and the highest completion percentage for a career (67.3).

When the Saints won the Super Bowl, Brees finished second in the NFL Most Valuable Player voting in 2009 to Peyton Manning of the Colts. He was also runner-up for the award in 2006 to former teammate LaDanian Tomlinson of the Chargers. Brees also finished second in 2011 behind Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and finished second to Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs in 2018.

Brees is unquestionably a top 10 quarterback in NFL history, perhaps top five, and he has a chance to change that narrative in 2020 as the Saints figure to contend for a Super Bowl title.

Archie Manning was extremely gifted, talented, but was stuck with a slew of bad teams in a bad organization.

Manning led the NFL in passing yards in 1972. He also led the league in being sacked three times, taking a beating. He completed 55.4 percent of his passes with the Saints.

When finally given a good nucleus to work with in 1978, Manning was named the NFC Player of the Year. The presence of Wes Chandler, Henry Childs, Ike Harris, Tony Galbreath and Chuck Muncie, along with a solid offensive line made the Saints one of the most exciting teams in the NFL.

Unfortunately, the Flex defense of Dick Nolan flexed a bit too much and the Saints lost six games by a touchdown or less. They were close but not close enough. There were the two memorable excruciating 20-17 losses to Atlanta, one at Fulton County Stadium in which the Saints were robbed by a horrible call by Grover Klemmer.

Manning was a Pro Bowl player again in 1979 when the Saints had their first non-losing season ever. It easily could have been the first winning season ever and first playoff appearance ever.

New Orleans started 0-3 and finished 8-8, losing three games by seven points or fewer.

Particularly hard to swallow were a 40-34 season opening loss to the Falcons in New Orleans and a 42-35 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football on Dec. 3 when the Saints led 35-14 in the third quarter.

Manning was an inaugural inductee into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1988 and was an inaugural inductee into the New Orleans Saints Ring of Honor in 2013.

Bobby Hebert was tough. He was a winner. He could easily be second on this list.

The product of South Lafourche and Northwestern State guided the Saints to its first playoff appearance ever (1987) and to a pair of other playoff appearances (1991, 1992).

Bobby Hebert

Posting a 49-26 record as a starter in New Orleans in his seven years at the helm, Hebert completed 58.5 percent of his passes with the Saints.

Hebert was fourth in the NFL with 280 passes completed in 1988.

For Bobby, it was never about individual statistics. He did not have a big play receiver in his entire stint with the Saints.

Eric Martin was an outstanding receiver who was big, tough, fearless but lacked speed. The tight ends were great blockers with good hands who could not run. The running game was clearly featured with the likes of Reuben Mayes and Dalton Hilliard.

Hebert was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1999.

Aaron Brooks was brought to New Orleans as a backup quarterback to Jeff Blake.

Blake started 11 games in 2000 but broke his foot and, despite guiding the Saints to a 7-4 record, Blake never got his job back.

Brooks took over and gave the Saints new dimensions with his big arm and mobility.

The former University of Virginia star guided the Saints to a 3-2 record the rest of the way and then was brilliant as the Saints dethroned the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams 31-28 in the playoffs to give the Saints their first playoff win ever.

Brooks completed 56.4 percent of his passes with New Orleans.

Brooks was 38-44 as a starter with the Saints but that record was clearly skewed by the disastrous 2005 season when Hurricane Katrina rendered it virtually impossible for the Saints to have any success. Brooks went 3-10 as a starter before being benched and the Saints went 3-13 overall and Brooks moved on after the Saints changed regimes and Sean Payton brought in Brees.

After finishing fourth in the NFL in passing yards in 2001, Brooks was outstanding in 2003, throwing 24 touchdown passes with just eight interceptions and leading the NFL in the lowest percentage of interceptions for passes attempted. Brooks had 123 touchdown passes to 92 interceptions in his six seasons with the Saints.

His added dimension of being able to extend plays and run the ball well allowed Brooks to rush for 1,410 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Saints.

Brooks was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2014.

Bill Kilmer was a tough guy, a great leader.

He was not even supposed to be the starter for the original New Orleans Saints in 1967. That was supposed to be Gary Cuozzo.

Kilmer only started four games in 1967 but he became the starter in 1968.

The Saints were 11-28 in his four seasons but that does not tell the story of Kilmer. He completed 53 percent of his passes with the Saints.

Kilmer was fifth in the league in pass completions in 1969 with 193.

He was the unquestioned leader of the team and embraced the role in the early years. Kilmer took a beating. He helped make Danny Abramowicz the NFL leader in receptions with 73 in 1969 when Kilmer passed for 2,532 yards and 20 touchdowns. All 73 of the catches by Abramowicz came from Kilmer.

After departing for Washington after the 1970 season when the Saints drafted Manning, Kilmer proved how good he was with the Redskins by taking them to a Super Bowl.

Kilmer was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1990.

In franchise history, the only quarterbacks to start at least 16 games (equivalent of one season) to post winning records are Brees, Hebert and Walsh.

Honorable Mention:
Ken Stabler
Jim Everett
Dave Wilson
Steve Walsh
Jeff Blake

Next, we will take a look at the fullback position.

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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