The Easy Answer to The Hardest Question

Ever since his amazing performance against the Vikings, all San Diego Chargers fans can speak of is the magnificence of Doug Flutie. My message to all of those this applies to is very simple: enjoy it, because it is not going to last. Flutie is an amazing quarterback because of his ability to energize and offense and make plays through improvisation.

The problem with Doug Flutie is that he is not the quarterback of the future. I am not talking about the distant, flying car and time travel type future here. I mean Doug Flutie is not capable of starting for this team next season. "I always feel like I complicate a situation everywhere I go," Flutie said. "It's like, if I go out and play well, it does nothing but cause problems." While his stellar play has caused a problem, his inability to play up to that level across an extensive period of time is the real cause for fret.

The last time Flutie began a season as a starter he was thirty-eight years old. What happened that year? Flutie and the Chargers sped out of the gates at 5-2. Then his age began to show. During the first seven games of the season, Flutie had thrown more than twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. As the season wore on, Flutie ended up with eighteen interceptions to only fifteen touchdowns. That is worse than Brees performed in his first year as a starter. The only difference between Flutie then and Flutie now is two-plus years of age advancement. He is not the answer.

If Flutie is not the answer, then what or who is? The great thing about the quarterback position is you don't have to choose just one. Most teams take three cracks at it when completing their fifty-three man rosters.

Here is what the Chargers should do with those three spots to ensure the quarterback position is set for next season:

One spot goes without question to Drew Brees. I don't care how bad he performed the first half of this season, the kid can play. He shattered nearly all Big Ten passing records at Purdue, and led the team to four wins either in overtime or in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter in his first year as a starter. He is young and too talented to give up on. I find it that those who say he is too short too be effective are the same one's giving the even shorter Flutie god-like status this week. Plus, Brees being a second round pick with three years left on his contract, he will come back fairly cheaply with no binding commitment to the future.

The second spot is more difficult. The team needs a veteran. The need someone old enough to show the team is not once again regressing. It also must be someone young enough that if they show success can stick around for the long haul and not just band aid the wound. The man the team is looking for is none other than the Buccaneers Shaun King. This is a young stud with mobility, a strong arm, good size and better leadership skills. He completed over 55 percent of his passes in a formerly stagnant Tampa Bay offense, and has produced thirty career touchdowns versus only nineteen interceptions.

"We had a lot of confidence in Shaun coming out of Tulane," said Bucs general manager Rich McKay on the team's official website. "He has played in many big games for us and we remain confident that Shaun is a winning quarterback in the National Football League." King would push Drew Brees and is capable of leading the team to the playoffs and beyond should Brees struggle.

The final spot is one most teams waste on ill-fated projects, and others, such as the Chargers, neglect to use at all. However, with the problems the Chargers are experiencing at the position, they are in no position to do that. That is why the Chargers should use their first round draft pick on Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning. The Chargers flubbed when they drafted Leaf so high, and only one pick after Eli's older brother Peyton. The Chargers should not be so foolish to let this Manning slip away. As NFL guru Pete Prisco wrote in his weekly column, "The Chargers might be in line to draft Eli Manning, the younger brother of Peyton Manning. Eli Manning is for real, folks."

The right thing to do is for the Chargers to allow Brees to come into training camp as the starter, and to allow King to challenge for the top spot. The loser of that battle sits at number two, while the Chargers do what they should have done with Ryan Leaf and groom their top pick for the future. This will ensure the Chargers of having a young stud quarterback (Brees), a back-up plan who can lead the team as long as necessary should Brees continue to struggle (King), and a franchise signal caller waiting in the wings who can take over only when he is ready (Manning).

The Chargers do have quarterback problems, but they are not as bad as people make them sound. Just as Doug Flutie is not as good as people make him sound, Drew Brees is definitely not as bad as recently advertised. That is how the Chargers should address their quarterback issues. But in the end, I still feel it will be Drew Brees who will be making all his doubters, as well as NFL defenses league wide, very, very, sorry.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at ReneesGaydo@yahoo.com

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