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Brees Becomes Chargers' Leader While Remaining in Background

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/07/sports/football/07nfl.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>

    Drew Brees remains an invaluable starting quarterback in San Diego because he consistently responds to challenges.

    His next test will come Monday night, when resurgent San Diego (2-2) plays host to the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1). After starting 0-2, the Chargers have whipped the Giants and the New England Patriots, reasserting themselves as American Football Conference contenders.

    In successive weeks, Brees outplayed Eli Manning of the Giants and Tom Brady of the Patriots, quarterbacks who receive far more attention. That is typical for Brees. He is overshadowed on his own team by running back LaDainian Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates, but the Chargers appreciate Brees for his talent and for his toughness.

    "Drew is a very confident person," Tomlinson said Sunday after the Chargers thrashed the Patriots, 41-17, with Brees completing 19 of 24 passes. "He doesn't get wrapped up in whatever talk is going on around him. That's why he's the leader of this football team."

    Brees, the Chargers' second-round draft pick in 2001, cannot afford to become complacent with Philip Rivers lurking. Rivers, drafted No. 4 over all by the Giants in 2004, was traded on draft day to the Chargers, who had made Manning the No. 1 selection.

    Many expected Rivers to have supplanted Brees by now. But Brees led the Chargers to a 12-4 record and the playoffs last season, and Rivers may never start for them if Brees keeps sparkling.

    Pittsburgh, coming off a bye week, will be a dangerous opponent. But San Diego is determined to prove that last year's playoff run was not a fluke, just as Brees is determined to prove his worth to the Chargers.

    "After the way we started, and the expectations coming into the year, we didn't hang our heads," Brees said. "The first two games, we didn't do a good job finishing games. Now we are, and we have to keep doing it."

    Lions Still Await Turn for Better

    It is fitting that the Detroit Lions are in the National Football Conference North, the N.F.L.'s worst division. Ineptitude seems to follow the Lions like a shadow. Off to a 1-2 start and riding a two-game losing streak into Sunday's home game against Baltimore (1-2), the Lions are in danger of another dismal season.

    They sustained another blow Wednesday, when it was announced that wide receiver Charles Rogers would serve a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Rogers missed significant portions of the previous two seasons after twice breaking his right collarbone. And this season, Rogers has caught just 5 passes for 77 yards, far less production than the Lions expected.

    At the very least, Detroit expected to have a potent offense this year, after drafting another wide receiver in the first round, Mike Williams, to join the talented Roy Williams and Rogers. Surely, quarterback Joey Harrington would have enough offensive options to develop some consistency.

    Apparently, Harrington needs more help. He has thrown three touchdown passes and five interceptions, and his passer rating is 57.3, third worst in the league. Harrington could be the latest Detroit quarterback to not live up to expectations, following in the footsteps of Scott Mitchell, Chuck Long and Andre Ware.

    Luckily for the Lions, the other N.F.C. North teams - Chicago (1-2), Minnesota (1-3) and Green Bay (0-4) - are struggling. Eight victories may be good enough to win this division; perhaps even seven could do it. Is that too much to ask of the Lions? Unless Harrington plays better, it may be.

    For 49ers, No Time Like the Present

    The San Francisco 49ers have too much invested in Alex Smith to keep him on the bench.

    Smith will get his first regular-season start Sunday against Indianapolis, continuing a growing trend of young quarterbacks being thrown into action. More coaches are becoming convinced that quarterbacks develop faster by playing, rather than sitting. They saw the success Ben Roethlisberger had in Pittsburgh as a rookie last season. They see the success Eli Manning is having with the Giants this year after becoming a starter midway through his rookie season last year.

    The 49ers took Smith with the No. 1 pick in April, and they signed him to the league's largest rookie contract ever: 6 years, $49 million. What is the point of having Smith hold a clipboard on the bench? The 49ers (1-3) are not exactly favored to make the Super Bowl.

    Smith will take his lumps, just as Manning did. But the faster he develops into the quarterback the 49ers think he can be, the better off the franchise will be.

    "I feel like Alex gives us the best chance to win, and I believe he's ready," Coach Mike Nolan said, explaining why Smith would replace Tim Rattay. "If we were 3-1, it would probably be different."
     

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