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In '03, Brees wasn't ready for sainthood

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    Drew Brees now is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, and while we can try pointing more fingers than a school of squid as to the why of it — the reason he accomplished this as a Saint and not as a Charger — in the end they all aim at one person: Drew Brees.
    Nothing personal. When it mattered, when the team thought he had a chance to be The Guy, he wasn’t nearly good enough. There is no other reason — other than Drew Brees.
    Passionate fans love to put themselves in the Hawaiian shirts occupied by General Manager A.J. Smith, so let’s play that game. Let’s play Smith — and Marty Schottenheimer, coach at the time — and be totally honest, rational and unemotional about the entire process that led to Brees being the star in New Orleans’ stunning Super Bowl victory over Indianapolis.
    It’s so simple, even I get it.
    The NFL is a production-based, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. Remember that from the start. It’s hard — especially for quarterbacks.
    Anyway, in 2001, then-Chargers GM John Butler drafted Brees out of Purdue with his first choice in the second round. Brees played in 16 games in 2002 and was all right — the team went 8-8 — but instead of improving, he regressed. Badly.
    In 2003, he started 11 games, benched for five games at midseason in favor of 39-year-old Doug Flutie. San Diego’s record under Brees was 2-9. He passed for 2,108 yards. His completion percentage was 57.6. He threw 11 touchdown passes against 15 interceptions. His passer rating was 67.5. To be kind, he stunk.
    As a result, the Chargers were the worst team in football and therefore had the No. 1 pick in a 2004 draft featuring three promising quarterbacks — Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers. What were the Chargers to do, gamble Brees would snap out of it and eventually take them to Super Bowls?
    As Smith has told me more than once: “We had to draft a quarterback.” Absolutely. Positively. Brees’ performance — getting beat out by a short 39-year-old? — made it so.
    We won’t get into the entire Eli Manning thing here, but Schottenheimer and his staff coached at the Senior Bowl in 2004, and their quarterback was Rivers. Schottenheimer fell in love with the kid out of North Carolina State.
    This also was a time when A.J. and Marty actually were communicating, so when the draft came around and Manning cried that he didn’t want to play in San Diego, Rivers eventually became the choice.
    No way anyone without a halo could have predicted what happened next.
    Schottenheimer may not admit it now; the plan was to start Rivers his rookie year. But Rivers reported late to training camp, death for quarterbacks, and Brees did well enough in August to keep the starting job.
    And then, for whatever reason — he’s always been a great competitor, so maybe his getting pushed pushed him — Brees excelled in 2004. The team went 12-4 and made the playoffs, losing the memorable game to the Jets. Brees became a Pro Bowler, throwing 27 touchdowns against seven picks.
    Meanwhile, Rivers, who had signed for $40 million-plus, sat. The Chargers put a franchise tag on free agent Brees and he had another fine season in 2005, although his team wasn’t as good, finishing 9-7 and missing the playoffs. But, in the final game of the regular season against Denver (why was he playing?), Brees dove after a fumble, tearing up his throwing shoulder.
    Famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews obviously did an amazing job on that shoulder, but there was no way the Chargers — who had Rivers in waiting — or any other team (or Brees for that matter) could predict the future.
    San Diego offered him $2 million guaranteed — with makable incentives that would take it to $9 million if he played — and only one other team made Brees an offer, New Orleans. The Saints chummed him a one-year guarantee of $9.5 million, with future options if he remained healthy and played.
    Did Brees want any part of New Orleans? Some people think he didn’t. But his future was in doubt and he was offered nearly $10 million. He says it was a “calling” now. But he went for the dough.
    The huge monetary gamble worked for New Orleans. The Chargers got Rivers, their own Pro Bowl quarterback, out of it, but he hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Now Brees has, and people are screaming that, once again, the Chargers have blown it.
    Smith blew it in one regard. After Brees’ Pro Bowl 2004 season, he never was going to be worth more to other teams. Smith knew Rivers was the quarterback of the future. Teams were dying for quarterbacks. Brees should have been traded then.
    Instead, he was allowed to walk after the injury, and with the 2006 third-round pick San Diego got in compensation from the Saints, Smith took linebacker Anthony Waters. He’s not here anymore.
    If you want to gripe, gripe about that. If the Chargers thought Brees would become what he’s become, they certainly wouldn’t have drafted a quarterback. Common sense.
    Those are the facts. Feel free to tweak them. I’m sure some of you will.
  2. goboilers

    goboilers BoltTalker

    Jun 29, 2006
    Canepa is a ****** reporter and writer and so is Tim Sullivan.
    I remember him calling Brees an old Jalopy...

    Who was the idiot WR that Brees had in '03??
    That fcukin offensive line?

    Chargers were the laughing stock of the NFL and Brees and LT were supposed to turn them around overnite?

    Its like saying Matt Ryan could have turned around the browns...

    What a fcuking joke.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. nflhof

    nflhof BoltTalker

    Jul 23, 2007
    When Brees got hurt against the Broncos at the last game of the year that made the decision to go with Rivers a lock. Drew is a great player and will continue to be one. But I have to agree with this article and say we should have traded Drew in 2004. Rivers is our guy and will take us to the Super Bowl. I would love to take on Drew in that game and see what happens. That would be great drama.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

    Jul 22, 2007
    A lot was expected of Brees in a short ammount of time. He played well when he had protection but his long ball was rarely accurate and he got rattled when pressured. Despite his struggles he looked like he was going to be a good QB... not a great QB and certainly not an elite QB.

    That said, I was on the fence about drafting any QB from River's class. Our D was looking good. We had the best RB in the league, and we had picks. In this situation, why trade a known and improving quantity for a question mark be it Rivers, Sheli or the Burger?

    Still, there's nothing that says that Brees would have turned into the QB he is in New Orleans if he had stayed in San Diego. Different systems, different coaches, different players, different opportunities. I'm thankful that Rivers is our QB and I have no regrets that Brees is gone.
  5. Nutriaitch

    Nutriaitch Well-Known Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    ok, i'm not even remotely educated on the Chargers situation, so take this as simply an uneducated opinion from an outsider.

    I didn't realize that Brees had only played for 2 years before the Rivers draft class.

    I would venture to guess that Drew was not the 1st QB to taste some success his 1st year, and then regress his next.

    Drafting him in the early 2nd round mean the Chargers saw something in him that made them think he would make it as an NFL qb.

    pulling the plug on that project before year 2 is finished seems a bit premature (of course this comes with a good bit of hindsight).

    All in all, y'all still ended up with a damn good qb.

    would Brees have been able to lead the '09 Chargers to a title? who knows

    I think Brees and Sean Payton make an excellent coach/qb combo. they seem to operate as one at times.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Sandolf

    Sandolf Blue Moon Rising

    Oct 11, 2007
    Flutie was a better quarterback than Brees the ENTIRE time both were Chargers.

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