Brees, a Pro Bowler and architect of 20 victories the past two seasons, was allowed to slip out of town to New Orleans as a free agent. That fast-forwarded the progression of Philip Rivers, and the former fourth overall pick takes over the NFL's No. 10-rated offense.
Rivers, who has thrown but 30 NFL passes, is confident he's ready for his leading role after absorbing Brees the past two seasons. Working in Rivers' favor was Brees being willing to share any and all information with the man who would eventually take his job.
The Chargers are hopeful they don't have to make a switch at left tackle. Starter Roman Oben is being counted on to contribute, but he first must overcome two surgeries on his left foot. If he can't go, the job would fall to backup Leander Jordan or rookie Marcus McNeill.
The receiving corps has a slightly different look.