Bill Simmons has it pretty much right on Drew Brees vs. Dan Marino:
Was it right that I didn’t get excited about Drew Brees’ new passing yards record? It reminds me of Oscar Robertson averaging a triple-double, or any of the Bonds/McGwire home run records; it’s impossible to separate the era from the accomplishment itself. When Dan Marino threw for 5,084 yards in 1984, you were allowed to (a) pummel the QB every chance you had, (b) dive at the QB’s knees as he was throwing the ball, (c) crush any receiver coming over the middle, and (d) jam receivers at the line by any means necessary, even if you had to use a crowbar or a chainsaw. It was impossible to throw for 5,000 yards back then. Only two other 1984 QBs cracked 4,000 yards (Neil Lomax and Phil Simms); nobody else cracked 3,800 yards; and only five guys even attempted 500+ passes (Marino’s 564 was the highest). In 2011? Ten QBs will crack 4,000 yards; six will crack 4,500 yards; two (including Tom Brady) will crack 5,000 yards. Heading into Week 17, ten 2011 QBs have already thrown more than 500+ passes, with Brees leading the way with 622. It’s a totally different game. Heading forward, we’re going to see multiple QBs throw for 5,000 yards every season … right?