Charger Update: QB and DC

Of all the questions surrounding the San Diego Chargers heading into the off-season none pique the interest quite like the quarterback position. Drew Brees' struggles have made it apparent that the Chargers are in the market for a challenger. The first pick in the draft and some potential big name free agents may be options. Here's the latest and an update on the search for a defensive coordinator...<br><br>

Going into the season the Chargers had high hopes for their offensive line. Injuries depleted that hope and as a result the quarterbacks were under constant pressure all season long. Is it fair to evaluate a quarterback under those circumstances? Absolutely.

Playing under pressure is something that all NFL quarterbacks must endure. Not just pressure from an opposing team's pass rush but pressure from the crowd, pressure from the coaches and most importantly the pressure to win. Watching the playoffs only magnifies those musings. It doesn't matter how good your offensive line is – you will certainly be pressured in the NFL. Carolina Panther's quarterback Jake Delhomme was under constant pressure from a speedy Ram's defensive front in the presence of a hostile anti-Panther Edward Jones Dome crowd. Delhomme protected the football while using a quick release and solid accuracy to make enough plays for his team to advance to the NFC Championship game. Oh, this was without Stephen Davis. Some rise above the pressure.

After a solid first season as a starter, Drew Brees had a chance to sway the people on the fence. Instead he threw untimely interceptions, fumbled the football and failed to hit open receivers in his chance to answer an important question. Is he the man of the future at quarterback for the San Diego Chargers? Just as some rise above pressure, some wilt under it.

In Brees' defense, the situation he was in was far from ideal. The injuries to the offensive line and wide receiver along with the struggles of a rebuilt defense would make it tough for most quarterbacks to succeed. Regardless of the circumstances he did not show enough to the people that matter the most.

General Manager AJ Smith was not shy in his displeasure with the play of his young quarterback. Neither was head coach Marty Schottenheimer who benched Brees midseason. Brees did come back to play better but it may have been too little too late. Brees may be on the block with the Chargers seeking a second round pick but most personnel people feel the Chargers would be fortunate to get a mid-round selection in return. It is highly doubtful that the Chargers will go into next season with Brees as the unchallenged starter.

Brees' negatives may outweigh his positives. He's short, has a below average arm, and is very inaccurate with his mid to deep- range throws. His leadership is also in question (teammates were calling for Flutie) and he is not the most mobile. With that in mind his past does not equal his future. Brees is headstrong enough to overcome the struggles of the season and may very well have a successful career in the NFL. Doing it as a Charger is what's in question.

With the Chargers holding the first pick in April's draft, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are legitimate possibilities at quarterback but it's too early to speculate on what the Chargers will do with that pick. Free agency takes center stage...

Kurt Warner and Mark Brunell are the big name quarterbacks expected to be available this off-season. ESPN's Chris Mortensen has reported that Mark Brunell has interest in three teams but the Chargers are not one of them. We can probably cross him off the list. Kurt Warner will remain with the Rams due to salary cap implications, not to mention they might not have full confidence in Marc Bulger. Cross Warner off the list. In an interesting turn, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are high on Chris Simms, one of the teams in the running for Brunell, and are done with Brad Johnson. Johnson is a year removed from a Super Bowl title and should certainly stir the pot when he is released by the Bucs.

Will-full wisdom: Ted Cottrell will meet with the Chargers on Monday but he's also in the running with the Vikings and is set to meet with Pittsburgh on Thursday. Now that the Titans are home expect Gunther Cunningham to get some play. Marty's brother Kurt is still a consideration.

Will Mortensen can be reached at

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