"His job is to take care of the ball," an animated Marty Schottenheimer said after the game. "If he gets sacked he has to hold onto the ball. Have to take care of the football. That is a fact of life in the NFL."
Brees fumbled twice. Once Brees held onto the football too long in the pocket as Courtney VanBuren was beat on the edge by Chukie Nwokorie. The second fumble came off a Grady Jackson rush up the gut. Jackson whipped by Cory Raymer so quick Brees barely had the chance to see anything but the Green Bay jersey Jackson wore.
Still, Brees knew his makeshift line was made of butter, opposing teams could cut right through it. During the game, the line shuffled more than a dealer in Vegas. In his first game action in six weeks, after he split practice snaps with Doug Flutie this week, he had to know they would be after the ball. Green Bay talked about the importance of creating quarterback fumbles all week. Who said the media was good for nothing?
"Anytime I am in the pocket and the ball gets knocked out it is on me," Brees said.
"I can make it very simple; turn the ball over 4 times in the NFL, a minus three giveaway-takeaway ratio, you will get your tail beat," Marty Schottenheimer added.
Will there be a quarterback debate this week?
"When you turn the ball over you can't get a passing grade in my mind," Schottenheimer added.
Ouch! Schottenheimer maintained his "week-to-week" stance on the quarterback position after the game.
The passing part of his performance, Brees had down. He hit seven different receivers on the day and spread the ball around well. Granted LaDainian Tomlinson led the team with eleven receptions, but he did hit his other receivers 17 times, and a few others were ceremoniously dropped.
"Brees hasn't played in a little while, but I think he's a heck of a quarterback," Green Bay coach Mike Sherman said.
"I thought Brees, other than the fumbles, played a pretty good game for us," Schottenheimer said. "I thought he played a good, solid football game for us. He did a good job managing the offense. We were able to throw the ball effectively. He got us in position where we could score some points. Once again we weren't efficient in the (red) zone, giving up points down there."
His one interception should be blamed on play-calling. Trying to hit David Boston on third down, a quick hit to the sideline on a play that didn't work earlier in the game, Brees threw the ball, but Darren Sharper, blitzing, made a fantastic leaping grab to pick it off deep in Green Bay territory. The Packers converted less than a minute later to make it a fourteen point swing on the scoreboard just before halftime.
That made the score 17-3 heading into the break instead of 10-10. The Chargers roared back to take the lead, but were 1-5 in the red zone and 1-3 in goal to go situations. They did get two field goals out of it, but touchdowns are the barometer to go by.
"We had three shots inside the 20 yard line where we ended up with six points."
In the end, Schottenheimer surmised it to be simple:
"What Green Bay did is they didn't turn the ball over four times. That's the ball game. It is as simple as that. If you can't hold onto the ball, you will win very, very seldom.
"And to be where we are in the giveaway –takeaway ratio makes me want to throw up. I believe that is the cornerstone of winning football. Don't give it to the other guy."
Brees confirmed his coaches' sentiments saying, "When the turnovers hit, you see the result."
A 38-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org