It's all about the Brees in San Diego

One game at a time. No team in the NFL can afford to look ahead. The San Diego Chargers face the New York Jets this Sunday and they are in danger of looking too far into the past.

The media scoundrels have all brought up the question of the past. But with such a high turnover rate, especially in San Diego, the Bolts can ill-afford to look deeply into the past.

After all, the past hasn't been too kind. Since that day they have lost a lot of games. The roster has been treated as farming land. They have plowed it and turned it over for the new season.

Simply put, this isn't the same Chargers team that was demolished back then. Sure some of the players are still here and likely hurt by the memory, but getting caught up in "revenge" mode is not something this team can concentrate on. Instead the recent past should be the model they look to.

Drew Brees was solid a week ago. He will need to bring his A-game again this week. The Jets are a legitimate playoff team. They have an offense that can be downright scary but their defense is still a work in progress. The secondary has ailments that can be exposed with Ray Mickens gone for the year and two rookies who will get playing time.

Brees' air of confidence could potentially get a boost this week if he performs similar to week one. And this one could last all year long.

"He stood in there and made the throws he had to make," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "I was quite pleased with his ability to get it into the end zone."

It will be about getting in the end zone. Last year the team was lax in that category and is hoping the good fortune continues.

The Jets will focus their attention on LaDainian Tomlinson. Jets coach Herm Edwards maintains that he will keep an eye on Antonio Gates and the receivers but the threat of Tomlinson running wild is not something they wish to see.

It isn't so simple.

Last year, the Jets ranked 25th in the league in stopping the run. The early indications say they have made strides to correct those errors. They have gotten faster at linebacker – much like the Chargers have.

"When you look at that front seven, I think it's very impressive," Schottenheimer said. "Sam Cowart, I don't know that there was a better defensive player on either team that played like he did (vs. Cincinnati). I thought he was absolutely outstanding. I think what's happening is that the guys up front are tying people up and the linebackers are running all over the place making plays."

It sounds like the defense the Chargers are employing.

Tomlinson, however, is good enough to make them all miss.

Edwards used the breaking ankles speech on his men so they know they must contain Tomlinson and gang tackle him. It is easier said than done.

"He's definitely a three-dimensional back," defensive end John Abraham said. "He can run inside and out. He can catch it out of the backfield and he can even line up as a wide receiver. No, we won't stop him, but we have to contain him; stop him from making the big play."

With all the attention showered on Tomlinson, now, and every game this year, will be a chance for the receivers to prove their worth. The Chargers receivers, minus Antonio Gates, won't get the credit until they prove they merit it.

This is where Brees comes in. He stood tall – despite his stature – and delivered in the opener. Will the same be true in front of the home crowd? How will he handle it if he is sacked and the crowd roars for the opposition?

These are demons he must deal with. His job is to deliver the ball to his men and let them do the rest. They should have opportunities to get open against New York.

Tim Dwight, who will return this week, said, "Drew has been throwing the ball really well."

With the opportunity to exploit a secondary that isn't top notch, his game will be key.

The offensive line will be on the hook if the team loses. The reason is pressure. New York boasts some great pass rushers and can harass Brees into making mistakes. Although he has scrambling ability, forcing him to move in a direction he does not want will create turnovers. We know how Marty loves those.

In the end, it will be up to Brees to earn the victory this week.

Lightning Quicks:

  • Jets coach Herm Edwards has offered an incentive the players - win in San Diego, and they will get more days off during the bye week.

    "I told them you help me, and I'll help you," said Edwards.

  • One interesting sidebar on the Jets upcoming game with San Diego – Edwards isn't a fan of Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer.

    Edwards stepped down from the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff in 1995, and was moved to the team's scouting department because he didn't want to work for Schottenheimer anymore.
  • Denis Savage can be reached at

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