Another Torch Is Passed

During week eight, football analysts decreed that Antonio Gates had taken the title of the league's premiere tight end away from Tony Gonzalez, as Gates finished that game against the Chiefs with ten catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns. In week eleven, a torch of equal significance was passed. The label of the Chargers' quarterback of the future reverted back to its original owner, as Drew Brees proved he is the quarterback of both the present and the future.

Against the Bills - who came into the game with the league's second best pass defense - Brees completed over 84 percent of his passes for 339 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. Now in his fifth season in the league, Brees has become the kind of quarterback that Marty Schottenheimer loves to coach. He understands game management, he keeps turnovers to a minimum, and he can capitalize on defenses that load up to stop the run.

"Drew Brees, say what you want – Drew Brees gets it done," fullback Lorenzo Neal said. "He has stepped up and is coming into his own. He is consistent. He has leadership. He is seeing the field, getting people lined up, watching guys get lined up. Drew Brees does not get his just dues. He is a phenomenal quarterback.

It wasn't just what Brees did during Sunday's game that proved he is the team's quarterback of the future, but it is what Philip Rivers didn't do that was just as important. With the Chargers winning by 31 points with a mere eleven minutes left in the game, it was Brees that came back onto the field to lead the offense, not Rivers. If the team thought whatsoever that Rivers may be their quarterback of the future, they would have jumped at that ideal opportunity to give him some valuable playing time.

The fact is, over the last year-and-a-half Brees has proven himself to be a steady, consistently productive quarterback. He has also become a team leader, which is vitally important given that good chemistry is one of this team's biggest assets. That is likely why the team will wait until after the season to extend Brees' contract - to keep Rivers from speaking up with his trade demands, disrupting a harmonious locker room.

To be sure, Brees will be rewarded for his stellar performance as soon as season ends, which may not be until February if he continues his elite level of play.

"I think A.J. and the organization will do what they need to do to make sure things happen the correct way," said running back LaDainian Tomlinson. "He has proven himself."

As for Rivers, he will be trade bait, which should spark weeks of non-stop speculation. For example: the Chargers trade Rivers to the quarterback-hungry Cardinals for wide receiver Anquan Boldin and a second-round draft pick. That way Rivers gets to start, and Brees gets a legitimate number-one receiver, the only thing the Chargers' already potent offense is lacking.

This has officially become Drew Brees' bunch, and it is time to rally around him and see how far he can take the team; not just this year, but in years to come. The torch has been passed; or more correctly, passed back.

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