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Loss of Brees is bound to hurt Bolts

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006/03/12/sports/scholfield/22_45_273_11_06.txt">North County Times</a>

    <img title="Drew Brees Hurt" alt="Drew Brees Hurt" src="http://www.bolttalk.com/images/breesinjury01.jpg" />
    By Steve Scholfield

    This has not been a good offseason for Team Dysfunctional, more commonly known as the Chargers.

    General manager A.J. Smith and head coach Marty Schottenheimer do not get along, a spat that caused team president Dean Spanos to call them in for a meeting where I imagine he chewed both of them out for being stubborn, egotistical and not on the same page.

    Spanos said the problem is solved, but we'll wait and see.
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    If that isn't enough to wreck the fabric of a franchise, the team let its only Pro Bowl quarterback since Dan Fouts leave for free agency. Drew Brees, a confident Texan who was the league's 2004 Comeback Player of the Year, will probably be playing for the Miami Dolphins next year.

    And what did the Chargers get for their All-Pro? Zilch. Brees is recovering from a torn labrum, a ring of cartilage that stabilizes the shoulder joint, but says he will be ready to play on opening day.

    Naturally, it all revolves around money.

    The Chargers feel they gave Brees a good offer, loaded with incentives that would bring Brees $10 million a year if he is healthy and plays well.

    Brees' camp felt that the Chargers should give him more guaranteed money up front and there were no compromises. This business decision has cost the Chargers a good player who is coveted by others.

    Miami is hot on his trail. Brees was supposed to meet with the New Orleans Saints on Saturday afternoon, but Dolphins coach Nick Saban and general manager Randy Mueller traveled to Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday morning to meet with Brees. According to one report, they were concerned that Brees might take New Orleans' offer before seeing them.

    If only the Chargers thought that highly of him.

    Smith won't say this publicly, but by his actions he has told us he believes that Brees is indeed a good quarterback, but that his understudy, Philip Rivers, has a chance to be a great one.

    Rivers came out in the draft the same year as Eli Manning (no booing, please) and Ben Roethlisberger, who guided the Steelers to the Super Bowl.

    The Chargers believe Rivers is every bit as talented as Roethlisberger and the Giants' Manning.

    It is a heck of gamble the Chargers are taking because of one major factor that Brees brought to the table: strong leadership. Rivers can throw as many touchdowns or more than Brees this season and not possess the leadership that Brees gave the team.

    If anything, it was Brees' strongest attribute because everyone, with the possible exception of Smith, looked up to him.

    The Chargers are an elite team that is just a play or two away from being a serious Super Bowl contender. To change leaders now is risky because it takes time for most quarterbacks to learn in the NFL.

    I'm concerned that the change will mean a lost window of opportunity for some of the veteran players who may not be around when Rivers fully develops.

    The cold truth is that in two or three years, when Rivers completes his apprenticeship, the Chargers may be without such notables as Mike Goff, Donnie Edwards, Jamal Williams, Lorenzo Neal and Keenan McCardell, men who have played eight or more seasons in the NFL.

    And you can add another name in there as well: LaDainian Tomlinson, who is entering his sixth season.

    The productive shelf life of an NFL running back is short. Tomlinson, the best back in the league when he is healthy, has limped to the finish line the past two seasons with a groin injury and cracked ribs. By comparison, two of the Chargers' better runners, Marion Butts and Natrone Means, each had seven-year pro careers.

    But the deed is done and the Chargers will move on to the Philip Rivers era. It will be up to Rivers and Schottenheimer to pull the team together and make up for the void left by Brees.

    And it will be up to Smith to supply better players so the burden on Rivers won't be so heavy. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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