Some changes have been written on the wall for some time. Ray Lee Johnson, Tim Dwight, Stephen Alexander and Damion McIntosh are all playing their last seasons for the Chargers. Other changes are just now becoming obvious, such as this being Marty Schottenheimer's last season as an NFL head coach.
Then some changes may or may not happen, such as a change at quarterback. It is obvious what the Chargers should do. So let me go on record as saying that entering next season without Drew Brees as the starting quarterback would be the worst mistake (including the drafting of Ryan Leaf) that this franchise has ever made.
Drew Brees numbers lie so badly you would think they should be working in the White House. The only person in the NFL with less reliable hands than Tim Dwight might be the Chargers own Josh Norman. Reche Caldwell runs grotesquely loose routes for a receiver from Florida University (surprise!). And all Stephen Alexander has been good for is upping the expected wait in the trainer's office.
Brees plays in an offense that suits his skills about as well as fish net stockings suit Opera. Drew needs to get in a rhythm, play at an up tempo, and be allowed to operate from the shotgun on at least a semi-regular basis.
"Our objective is to utilize our best players and find ways to get him the ball" said Schottenheimer. "Clearly for us, that starts with #21. The idea of being in the shotgun, which Drew has done a considerable amount of, on the surface might appear to be the solution, but it could negatively impact on your ability to run the ball. When you are running the football and you are trying to do it out of a shotgun, you are very, very limited as to the things you can do. It is not likely."
To paraphrase: the team needs the ball in LaDainian Tomlinson's hands as much as possible. However, the offenses in St. Louis, Kansas City and New Orleans are very pass oriented, yet their lead backs never seem to lack for touches. If the team opened the offense up they could allow Brees to find a rhythm such as the Rams quarterbacks do, they could hand LaDainian the rushing title such as the Chiefs did with Priest Holmes, and they could still make David Boston a consistent 1,300 yard, double digit touchdown player such as the Saints have done with Joe Horn.
"I have some ideas on what needs to be done overall and we are going to work our tails off to implement that," said Schottenheimer. Well taking a quick look around the league it would appear the Chargers brain trusts are the only ones without any ideas on how to run an offense, or how to properly utilize the man they pay to do it for them.
Brees has what it takes to succeed in the NFL. He is money in the clutch, as was seen multiple times last season. He has the respect of his teammates; just ask Tomlinson, the only player who has worked hard enough for his opinion to matter. And he has the desire to work hard, constantly improve, take control of the team, and do what he has to do to produce victories.
There will be changes this offseason; that much is obvious. The Chargers need a second wide receiver, a reliable tight end, and a left tackle that can remember the snap count. However, as the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Well if the Chargers fix the parts that are clearly broken on offense, then Drew will make defusing this quarterback controversy a Brees.
Michael Lombardo can be reached at ReneesGaydo@yahoo.com
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