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Camp tour: Brees defies critics, keeps Rivers on Chargers' bench

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    <strong>August 4, 2005</strong>
    Source: <a href="http://cbs.sportsline.com/nfl/story/8704116">CBS Sportsline</a>

    <img src="http://www.bolttalk.com/images/brees01.jpg" class="right" alt="Drew Brees" title="Drew Brees"/>SAN DIEGO -- Don't bet against Drew Brees.

    One year after he seemed destined for the discard pile, the quarterback is running the San Diego Chargers' first-team offense, aiming tightly-wound spirals at rookie wide receiver Vincent Jackson, running through a string of post-practice interviews and keeping backup Philip Rivers -- last year's No. 1 draft choice -- off the field.

    "That's one thing Doug Flutie told me," said Brees, smiling. "Never let them see the field."

    Well, Brees didn't, and if he plays this season as he did the last one, radio talk shows can leave him alone and turn their attentions to Rivers, the quarterback whose future is hitched to Brees.

    Basically, as long as Brees plays well and the Chargers win, Rivers sits. That's what happened last season, and that's how some see the 2005 season unfolding. But there are people outside of San Diego -- and a substantial number of them -- who believe the Chargers and Brees won't ... can't ... continue as they did a year ago and that both will succumb to gravity.

    Maybe. But before drawing conclusions you better listen to Brees. Nobody did a year ago, and look what happened. Now, he not only insists that he and the Chargers can repeat their performances of 2004; he believes they can exceed them.

    "There are always going to be naysayers and critics," Brees said after a recent practice. "But, first, we have a very young team with one more year's experience from last year. Second, there are 22 returning starters. How many other teams have that? Third, we have the same chemistry and attitude. We're not satisfied with the way last year ended. We want to end the year holding the Lombardi Trophy."

    He forgot one thing: Drew Brees. The guy has an unwavering confidence in himself; in his ability to start, to lead and to win. Yeah, I know, there are a spate of quarterbacks who fit that description, but how many of them produce passer ratings of 104.8, throw 20 more touchdowns than interceptions in one season and lead their clubs to the playoffs as their careers are administered last rites?

    Well, there's one that I know of, and he did it when no one -- not the media, not the fans, not even his own organization -- believed, honestly believed, he would succeed, and that's where that confidence comes into play.

    "In my mind, I thought, 'They don't even know; they don't know what we're about to do as a team and what I'm about to do,'" said Brees, last season's Comeback Player of the Year. "I kept that inside me, but I had that inner confidence."

    One theory suggests that Brees didn't take off until coach Marty Schottenheimer made Rivers the No. 2 quarterback following a Sept. 27 loss to Denver, but Brees doesn't buy it. Another suggests that Brees was the recipient of good fortune the following weekend; that had cornerback Tennessee's Samari Rolle controlled the ball on a seemingly sure interception and the Chargers lost, Brees might have been benched.

    Instead, the deflected pass landed in the arms of Reche Caldwell, who scored, and the Chargers won easily.

    "I don't need anyone to push me," Brees said. "I'm always competing against myself. In last year's situation they brought in Philip to be the guy. He was tagged to be the quarterback of the future, and my future was uncertain. But in my mind it wasn't. I believed I was the starting quarterback of this team.

    "When Marty announced me as the starting quarterback last year, the media was like, 'Oh, wow, you have to be happy about it,' but I knew it was going to happen. Of my list of goals for the season, not one of them was to be the starting quarterback of this team because every one of those goals was not going to be accomplished unless I was the starter. I had to believe I'm the starting quarterback, and that's the way it is. And I set my goals accordingly."

    Now there is no doubt who starts at quarterback. The only question is: Who is the real Drew Brees -- the quarterback who was last season's Comeback Player of the Year or the quarterback who floundered so badly in 2003 the Chargers spent their first-round draft choice on Rivers?

    Don't bother asking Brees. Just watch him find Jackson with a perfectly launched bomb. Or watch him hit Keenan McCardell over the middle. Or watch him stay after practice to work on his drops and his deliveries, and it's clear which quarterback he is now.

    "A year ago with Drew there was considerable discussion that he wouldn't even be here at the start of the season," said Schottenheimer. "Drew never bought into that, and, in fact, convened a group of players before the start of training camp.

    "If you were self conscious or concerned about how others would view you, you might not want to take that chance. But what he did is say, 'Hey, I'm the quarterback. I am the leader.' "

    He hasn't changed, but maybe we should. Maybe this time we should listen.
     

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