After suffering a season-ending knee injury in the first game of the 2008 season, Tom Brady made his comeback. Defenses around the league were not too thrilled to have him back. The New England Patriots won the AFC East and took control of it once again after finishing second to the Miami Dolphins in ’08.
2009 was the year that the National Football League officially revolutionized into a pass-oriented league. It was the year of the quarterback. The league set new passing records across the board. The following are all league records set in 2009: 10 QBs passed for more than 4,000 yards, 12 QBs threw for 25 or more TDs, five QBs had a passer rating over 100.0 and 111,583 net passing yards for the league. With so many QBs having breakthrough seasons in 2009, it’s only fitting that we rank the top five. These are the Top 5 quarterbacks of 2009:
5 Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Aaron Rodgers came out of Favre’s shadow in 2009. This was the year he proved to all of Green Bay that the organization made the right decision when they let Favre walk. With no running game and a poor offensive line (he was sacked a league-high 50 times), Rodgers still had a great season. While Favre was doing very well in Minnesota, Rodgers was doing his part to make sure Packers fans were satisfied with the move (Favre’s offseason circus also made it much easier for Green Bay to breathe easy). Rodgers threw for 4,434 yards (4th), 30 TDs (4th) and a 103.2 QB rating (4th). The Packers’ future was in great hands with Rodgers.
4 Phillip Rivers (San Diego Chargers)
Phillip Rivers led his Chargers to a 13-3 record and an AFC West division title. Rivers was the unquestioned leader of the team as LaDanian Tomlinson was now in decline. He threw for 28 TDs (tied for sixth), 104.4 QB rating (3rd), 266 yards per game (8th) and completed 65.2 percent of his passes (8th). Rivers and the Chargers were eliminated in the AFC Divisional playoffs by the New York Jets after earning a bye in the first round. The Jets defense was the best in the NFL in 2009, and in the playoffs that tends to win. Regardless, Rivers had a great season.
3 Brett Favre (Minnesota Vikings)
At 40 years old, Brett Favre had arguably the best season of his career. And that was after he was “seriously” considering retirement. He came back and came very close to proving that all of the preseason drama was worth putting up with (we did not have a choice but to put up with it). He threw for 33 TDs (tied for 2nd) and only seven interceptions, which was very uncharacteristic for a guy who is notorious for throwing picks. He had a 107.2 QB rating (2nd) and completed 68.4 percent of his passes (3rd). The Vikings lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Saints in the NFC Championship game.
2 Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts)
The 2009 season was vintage Peyton Manning. What can really be said about this half man, half machine that hasn’t already been said? Manning led his Colts to 14 consecutive wins to open the season and put up great numbers as usual: 33 TD passes (tied for 2nd), 68.8 completion percentage (2nd), 281 pass yards per game (4th) and a 99.9 QB rating (6th). Manning was outgunned by Brees in the Super Bowl and that is why he is firmly planted in the two spot.
1 Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
After opening the season with 13 consecutive wins, Drew Brees did not let up in the playoffs. He took his Saints to Super Bowl XLIV and won the franchise’s first championship. He lifted all of New Orleans on his shoulders during a time when they desperately needed it. A true underdog city with an underdog QB that was released by the San Diego Chargers because he was too small and had suffered a career-threatening shoulder injury. He came back, and New Orleans did too. Best of all, they did it together. It was a feel-good story that even the most hardened prison inmates could have sentiment for. Oh, and his numbers were jaw-dropping: 34 touchdown passes (1st), 109.6 QB rating (1st), 293 pass yards per game (2nd) and he completed an impressive 70.6 percent of his passes, which easily led the league.