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The Philip Rivers Era Begins

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Mar 24, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nfldraftblitz.com/ChargersColumn.htm">NFL Draft Blitz</a>

    <img width="282" height="210" alt="QB Philip Rivers" id="image2051" src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/03/rivers02.jpg" />
    By Loren S. Casuto

    Welcome Charger fans to the Philip Rivers era! Everyone but the most die hard Brees backers figured that after contract negotiations broke down between AJ Smith and Tom Condon (the agent for Drew Brees), Drew Brees had played his last game in San Diego. Tuesday March 14th made it official as Brees signed a six year contract with the New Orleans Saints. I think I speak for many Charger fans when I say to Brees "Thanks for what you did but don't ever come back!" Many of you might say I'm being too hostile to the quarterback who helped lead the resurgence of the San Diego Chargers, but I think for many fans, I'm not being hostile enough.

    Why the anger? The truth is that there are a lot of Chargers fans who feel duped by Drew Brees and his agent Tom Condon. There's no question that the contract negotiations were very tense, and the news from Brees that he was being low-balled in his contract increased anger towards AJ Smith. The news out of the Condon camp had been that AJ offered Brees a one year deal with little signing bonus or incentives. AJ Smith said he had offered a short term contract with incentives as well as an option for a five year big money contract if Brees could show he had recovered. Then on Friday March 11th Condon and Brees leaked a rumor to the media that AJ had pulled all incentives off the table for any contract with Drew Brees. This infuriated Charger fans against AJ just as free agency was beginning. But then a sports reporter for San Diego's local newspaper (the Union Tribune) printed an article on Saturday March 12th and AJ had done nothing of the sort. As reported by a San Diego sports radio station, AJ Smith had offered Drew Brees a two year, $10 million deal heavily laden with incentives along with an option for five years if Brees was healthy and can play. This was the "low-ball offer" that Brees was complaining about. This combined with the previous information that Drew Brees had also lied about the extent of his shoulder injury, including refusing to mention that he had a torn rotator cuff, turned the majority of popular opinion against Brees and for AJ Smith and Philip Rivers. I do not believe many Charger fans begrudge Brees for wanting more money or for playing hard-ball. But many do begrudge Drew Brees as well as Tom Condon for lying about the offer, the extent of Drew's injury and for playing fans and the San Diego press like a cheap fiddle. Both of them lied to the fans to pressure AJ Smith to make a long term offer for Drew Brees, and that has left many San Diegans with a very bitter taste in their mouth.

    With the end of the Drew Brees saga, the Chargers can now focus on free agency and the draft. Free Agency at Charger Park is similar to watching the paint dry in a small town; AJ Smith does not believe in building the organization through free agency. Granted he has not had a lot of cap room to work with the past few years but he does not appear to be interested in breaking the mould of the past. AJ himself said he targeted only four players from the start: Marlon Mcree, LeCharles Bentley (who refused to meet with the Chargers and instead went to the Browns), Andre Davis (WR, signed with Buffalo) and David Givens (WR, signed with the Titans). Now free agency is a week old and there's still plenty of time to go, but AJ needs to step up to the plate and sign a free agent the fans will be excited about. After the team let go of Drew Brees, regardless of whether it was right or wrong, the team and the fans need something to be excited about. And Marlon Mcree, though a good pick up, is nothing to be excited about. There are some good players available, or soon to be available, in free agency; OT Jon Runyan, OT Tom Ashworth, OG Stephen Neal, WR Eric Moulds, CB Ty Law. Any of those players would upgrade their area and would make the team better. I know AJ prefers the draft but the fact is that the fan base wants some excitement in the off-season and acquiring one of the abovementioned players would re-ignite the fan base.

    The Chargers two acquisitions in free agency are S Marlon Mcree, formerly of the Carolina Panthers and TE Aaron Shea, formerly of the Cleveland Browns. Marlon Mcree was brought to Carolina to add depth, on the cheap, and outplayed first round draft pick Thomas Davis at SS. While he had no interceptions at free safety, he did rack up 85 tackles and had a two interception performance in the playoffs against the New York Giants. Mcree is a hard hitter with great ball-hawking skills and is versatile enough that he could play both free and strong safety. As of now it looks like Mcree will battle Bwahoh Jue for the free safety job; it is plausible that the Chargers could have two starting safeties that can play both free and strong safety (Mcree and Clinton Hart). That versatility is something that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips loves to have in his secondary. Aaron Shea backed up Steve Heiden in Cleveland but is expendable with Kellen Winslow II returning to the Browns after a year on IR. Shea has solid hands and has the ability to get open to make the big catches, but is only a decent blocker. As a backup to Antonio Gates he will not be on the field a great deal but will be very helpful in giving Gates a break from time to time. Charger fans should think of Shea as filling a similar role that Michael Turner fills for Ladanian Tomlinson. After Mcree & Shea, there has been little free agent talk out of Charger Park. The Chargers have also said they have no interest in OG Stephen Neal or CBs Ty Law and Charles Woodson.

    The draft is a month and a half away and I want to come out in favor of the Chargers becoming aggressive. There's a constant rumor, especially now with the Saints picking up Drew Brees, that OT D'Brickshaw Ferguson is going to drop down to number six, the pick belonging to the San Francisco 49ers. If Ferguson is there, then regardless of the cost, I want the Chargers to trade up and snatch Ferguson. Let me clarify; ‘regardless of the cost' does not imply trading LT, Gates, Merriman, Jamal Williams or any of those players. It does mean that I would accept trading some of our other players (with the best player I'm willing to give up being Steve Foley) and it does mean I am willing to trade our first rounder next year. Before Charger fans start screaming at me, let me explain my rationality. The draft is a huge gamble; you're throwing millions of dollars at players who were great in college but have not done anything in the professional leagues. There have been some marvelous tackles to come out in the top ten like Walter Jones, Orlando Pace, Levi Jones and Chris Samuels. And there are a fair share of busts, especially in the top ten, like Leonard Davis, Mike Williams, Kyle Turley and the infamous Tony Manderich. So drafting a top ten offensive tackle is the same gamble that drafting anyone in the first round is.

    But Loren, if such is the case, why are you advocating trading so much to acquire D'Brickshaw Ferguson? Because I think Ferguson is the finest tackle to come into the draft since Orlando Pace and Walter Jones and because I am not alone in that assessment. Ferguson needs to improve his overall strength but regarding the two most important features of a pro-bowl left tackle (feet and pass blocking) Ferguson is light years ahead of anyone in the draft. And he has good fundamentals in run blocking; all that's needed is reps and training. On top of which Ferguson has a very strong work ethic as well as o character problems. There's no limit to his potential and he could be the first all-star offensive tackle the Chargers have had in decades. Is it still a gamble? Certainly: In 2004 Robert Gallery was seen as the next great tackle and in two years he has been decent, but not spectacular, with the Raiders. Gallery is not the same as Ferguson; for one Gallery doesn't have the upside that Ferguson has. Second, Gallery is not as athletic or as good a pass protector as Ferguson. And third, Gallery was accepted as the best tackle of his class, Ferguson is almost unanimously declared to be the best tackle in nearly a decade. This is not a repeat of Tony Manderich, who was a steroid pumping freak. D'Brickshaw Ferguson is the best tackle of the past ten years and if the Chargers and AJ Smith want to upgrade their team and fire up their fan base, there's no better way then to trade up and select D'Brickshaw Ferguson.

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