How To Save My Job

The question is:<br> Are San Diego Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer and General Manager AJ Smith on the hot seat this year, in danger of getting fired? <br><br> While the obvious answer points to yes, will they get a reprieve by selecting a quarterback with the number one overall selection? Does that weigh into their though process? How does Drew Brees keep his job?

Bruising, that's what the National Football League is. Same goes for on the field.

The volatile NFL is no place for the timid. So if Chargers quarterback Drew Brees got his feelings hurt during the offseason, so be it.

Chargers general manager AJ Smith has been on a quarterback search since the final snap. He was miffed about the team's 4-12 showing, miffed about starting quarterback Drew Brees throwing 15 interceptions and 11 touchdowns.

Brees, though, is hell-bent on keeping his spot.

Same goes for Smith.

"I'd like to keep my job too," he said. "(Coach) Marty Schottenheimer would like to keep his job. This is just part of the business, and Drew is totally aware of that. If he's not, he should talk to Doug Flutie. He knows what it's like -- the emotional swings -- in the seven years since he came down from the CFL. Doug would say to Drew, `Son, you are a professional football player and this is what you go through.' "

Some think the Chargers are through with Brees. The one-time quarterback of the future was benched for five games last year and pulled early from two others. Now, the Chargers are seriously considering plucking a quarterback with their No. 1 pick in this month's draft.

Not much on the quarterback free-agent market has got Smith riled, but he's impressed with the Big Three: Mississippi's Eli Manning, Miami of Ohio's Ben Roethlisberger and NC State's Philip Rivers.

It's possible, the Chargers will trade down and skip one of the above. It's possible Brees would still be barking signals next September and prove the critics wrong.

"I know what I can and I know what I am going to do," Brees said. "I don't care what the fans think. I don't care what people in our front office think. I care about how my teammates view me, and they see me in there every day trying to get better.

"As far as my job being in jeopardy, I know I have to get better."

Tough business, this NFL.

"I wasn't critical toward him at all," Smith said. "Look, we won four games last year and we have the first pick in the draft.

"Maybe your position isn't being looked at if you go to five Pro Bowls in a row, but when you haven't accomplished anything as a team -- and we are a team, that's why I bring up my name, and Marty's name - there's not anything wrong about looking to upgrade."

Last year, Brees completed but 57.6 percent of his passes, with 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. His 67.5 rating was 15th out of 16 AFC quarterbacks.

But before he's eased out, he's still in. And he'll stay there until someone beats him out.

Same seems to be true for the coaching staff and front office.


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