Drew Brees is impressed by Nick Foles
Drew Brees (left) has the most 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history. Nick Foles this season had the third-best QB rating ever. They hail from the same high school. (USA Today Images)
Drew Brees was blossoming in his first year with the Saints and well on his way to a Hall of Fame career while his records at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas were being broken by Nick Foles.
The two quarterbacks are separated in age by a decade, so although they share alma maters, they’ve met only once.
Still, the statistics that impressed Brees even more than the passing yards and touchdowns records that Foles set at Westlake are the 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions Foles threw this season as the Eagles’ starter.
“Yeah, it is amazing. It’s extremely impressive. Those are pretty unprecedented numbers, especially for a guy who’s in his first year as a starter,” said Brees, who will face his fellow Westlake alumnus Saturday night at the Linc in a first-round playoff game between the Eagles and Saints.
“I’m very happy for his success, obviously not just [for] the fact we’re from the same high school and I kind of know the road he’s traveled, but he seems like a tremendous young man. I don't know him that well. I’ve only met him on one or two occasions, but everything I’ve heard about him is that he’s a tremendous young man and you can see just by the way he plays he’s mature beyond his years. It’s been fun to watch his success.
“Obviously, here we are. I know we’re not facing each other. He’s playing against our defense, I’m playing against their defense. It’s kind of interesting how this all comes together.”
Brees saw Foles play once in high school, a 2006 game that honored the 1996 state championship team Brees quarterbacked before moving on to Purdue.
He flew in quickly the night before a home game against the Steelers, met up with some old buddies, watched his little brother play alongside Foles and then flew out. The two quarterbacks met face-to-face for the first time last year, when the Eagles played New Orleans at the Superdome.
Foles and Trent Edwards, backups to Michael Vick at that time, were warming up with Vick on the field when Brees jogged over.
Aside from that, Foles and Brees just happen to be two quarterbacks from the same high school now playing against each other in an NFL playoff game.
“I’ve always watched him from afar,” Foles said. “We’re from the same area, same high school. He’s a great player, one of the best to ever play the game at the position. He’s a guy I’ve watched and learned from.”
If Foles ends up having half the career Brees has had, the Eagles will be in great hands for a while.
Brees just wrapped up his third consecutive 5,000-yard passing season and fourth overall, throwing for 5,162 yards and 39 touchdowns. No other quarterback in NFL history has more than one 5,000-yard passing season and only four others -- Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford and Dan Marino -- have one.
Brees averaged 322.6 passing yards this season and registered a 104.7 passer rating. It was his fourth career passer rating over 104.6. Steve Young is the only quarterback in NFL history with more, and he has five. Aaron Rodgers is the only other quarterback in league history with four.
Over the past three seasons, Brees leads all NFL quarterbacks with 15,815 passing yards, which is 1,160 yards more than second-best Stafford despite having 109 fewer attempts than Stafford.
Foles hasn’t broken any major NFL passing records yet, but he is the first quarterback in league history to throw more than 20 touchdowns with just two interceptions, and his NFL-best 119.2 passer rating this season was third-best in league history for a single season, behind Rodgers (122.5 in 2011) and Manning (121.1 in 2004).
Though Foles obviously had Brees’ records in his sights in high school, Brees has been keeping tabs on Foles as well.
“I follow him from afar just because, obviously, he was breaking all my records,” Brees said. “So i definitely knew about him. It’s been exciting to watch him, too, because he started off going to Michigan State, so I thought he was going to be a fellow Big Ten guy. Obviously, he transferred to Arizona, had a great career there and I’ve been really impressed with what he’s been able to accomplish so far in the NFL.”