Glad you brought this up. I’ve made these points many times over the years.Between 2001-2009....the NFL made several rules changes which greatly effected the NFL passing game...this started shortly after Marino left the league.
Marino had long standing records that would start falling like dominoes...to players that would never have touched his numbers before the changes....Guys like Brees, Manning, and Brady started putting crazy numbers up they never would have touched before these changes.
I challenge anyone that doesn’t buy in or understand to research the production of QB’s that overlapped the era prior to 2004ish and after.
Manning and Brady are the very first guys to be looked at.
Manning‘s first 6 seasons in the league, from 1998 - 2003, he only accomplished 30+ TD passes ONE single time. However, he accomplished it FIVE times from 2004 on, including surpassing Marino’s record by a single TD in 2004, right in the midst of the QB friendly rule changes.
That’s pretty compelling to me.
Oh, and he really never got close to the 5K yard mark for most those seasons, until 2013 when the QB/offensive friendly rules were all in full effect.
Next look at Brady.
Throw out 2000, cause he didn’t really play. But from 2001 through 2006, he never even reached 30 TD passes one time. And only topped 4K yards on a single occasion.
But then 2007 happened and he accomplished 30+ TD passes SIX additional times since. He surpassed 5K once and threatened it another few times. Again, all after 2006.
Again, all pretty compelling.
Next in line is Drew Brees.
Throw out 2001, cause he didn’t really play. But from 2002 through 2007, he never even reached 30 TD passes one time. And only topped 4K yards twice.
But then 2008 happened where he surpassed 5K and finally reached 30+ TD’s. From 2008 and on, he accomplished 5K+ yards FIVE times and 30+ TD passes in 10 out 12 total seasons
Again, all after 2007.
Also very compelling when you consider he never accomplished either mark through his first 6 seasons as a starter, and really never threatened them much.
So there you have it. Arguably the three top, most stat worthy QB’s of the past 22 years and all of them demonstrated an eerily similar career arc. All posting non-elite TD’s numbers and slightly above average to very good yardage numbers for the first SIX years of their careers.
Then, between 2004 and 2008, their production all made significant spikes as if it was the steroid era in baseball. And it maintained throughout the remainder of their careers.
When you factor in the careers of other QB’s that entered the league during 2004 - 2008 and after, like say Matt Stafford who has also hit 5K yards and 40+ TD’s, it’s very easy to see that the landscape drastically changed.
The one QB I researched that bridged both eras that didn’t have anywhere as noticeable spike in production was Brett Favre. Unlike the others, he was posting the same numbers well before 2004ish.