Of course there were exceptions to that rule, the Miami Dolphins being one. The Dolphins didn’t have a dominant running game that year, but did have four players with over 400 yards rushing. Just enough to keep defenses guessing.
Marino seemed always able to find the open receiver down field and more often than not it was a touchdown. ( Marino also set the record for total touchdown passes in a season with 48 that year.)
I would argue that the 2011 New Orleans Saints are built similar to the ’84 Dolphins team, in that the Saints don’t have a dominant full time running back and they employ a hurry up type of offense that keeps defenders off balance.
Marino had and Brees has a bevy of sure handed targets that make receptions. Coupled with a running game that gets the job done, I believe, usurps the rules changes the League has implemented in the last few years.
Brees is one of the true masters of finding the open man as evidenced by his superb completion percentage totals. Even when the receiver is covered, Brees finds a way to feed the ball so only his man can get it, much like Marino did in his day.
I would also argue that without Head Coach Sean Payton calling the plays, Brees would have fallen short just as he did in 2008.
Payton is by all accounts an offensive mastermind, able to manipulate defenses into favorable match ups almost at will. Coupled with a ground game ranked 6th in the league, it wouldn’t surprise me if Brees is able to threaten his own mark in the coming years.
Dan Marino will always be remembered as a great player and quarterback. His legend will continue into the future.
When the topic comes up about the greatest quarterback of all time though, his name is always mentioned with a caveat: no Super Bowl Victories. It’s the nature of the beast I’m afraid.
Brees has one, the Mannings each have one, Brady has three. Drew Brees, by virtue of breaking the Single Season Passing Record, among the several records he already owns or extended this year, will be in the conversation as best passer ever.
I have no doubt this record will be in jeopardy several times in the future, and very well may be broken.
Are records important to the game of football? Is most regards, absolutely. Are records from different time periods comparable to one another? Most times, yes.
But, records are made to broken and will forever be used to judge a player’s greatness, or lack thereof, against one another. The biggest feather in one’s helmet regardless of “era”:
Super Bowl Champion.