WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN

The Dolphins will see first-hand this Sunday what they could have had when they face Chargers quarterback Drew Brees.

The Dolphins thought about picking Brees in the first round of the 2001 draft, but decided instead to go for cornerback Jamar Fletcher.

Brees, meanwhile, dropped to the top of the second round where he was grabbed by the Chargers.

With Ray Lucas struggling in his first three starts in place of Jay Fiedler and Brees doing well in his first year as the starter in San Diego, the Dolphins' decision to go with Fletcher instead of Brees obviously has been revisited this week.

"We had a major discussion with Drew Brees," said Dolphins vice president Rick Spielman. "We thought he was an excellent football player coming out, but because we had Jay Fiedler and what we felt about Jay Fiedler, we thought Jay was the best option.

"We had no qualms about Drew Brees and what kind of football player he would become. If you take a quarterback in the first round, it's when are you going to play him. We had just signed Ray and we felt really strongly about Jay."

Coach Dave Wannstedt has echoed Spielman's sentiments, and also isn't looking back on the decision to go with Fletcher, particularly since Fletcher has played much better in recent weeks.

The focus instead is on stopping Brees, who beat out veteran Doug Flutie for the starting job in the preseason.

"He's a good quarterback," said defensive end Jason Taylor. "He's got a lot of talent. He can run, he can pass, he can do all the things you want in a quarterback. The one thing he does is not take a lot of sacks."

Given Lucas' struggles and Brees' success this season, the Dolphins will continue to hear a lot about their decision to go with Fletcher if they wind up losing this Sunday.

The Dolphins are too involved in the playoff race to be worried about stuff like that, but it's clearly one of the biggest subplots of this game.


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