Brees: Future Fact or Fiction

In his third season with the San Diego Chargers out of Purdue University, quarterback Drew Brees is finding out that life in the NFL is not as glamorous as many would be led to believe. For Brees, the 2003 season has had its fair share of difficulties, both mentally and physically.

The physical aspect is not one of injury to Brees, but in questioning what may around the league perceive as weaknesses in his game, which has followed him since his collegiate career.

He is too small; he cannot see over the line of scrimmage, he does not have a strong enough arm to compete at the pro level as a starting quarterback. Now, two-plus seasons into his career, his team is struggling and again there are concerns about his stature and ability. It would be fair to say Brees has had his moments, both good and bad, but being the starting quarterback of a 1-5 team generally leads to questions about the play of the quarterback, the appointed leader of the offense.

With Brees, the team has not gotten off to a terrible start due to his play. As with any quarterback that has played the game, he could make a quicker or better read, he could have made a better throw, it is easy to place blame on the quarterback. The problem in San Diego is not what Brees has done; it is the perception of what he is unable to do on the field that has some members of the organization concerned.

Brees has shown the ability to make the majority of throws necessary to compete at the highest level. Lacking in arm strength to throw a 60-yard ‘go' or ‘post' route, Brees must solely rely on touch and timing to be successful. According to a league scout, Brees has some of the qualities you like to see in a quarterback.

"Drew Brees is an intelligent young man that knows how to play the game and has learned to play within his physical limitations and have some modest success. He throws a very catch-able ball and has leadership intangibles that are needed in a big-time quarterback," the scout said. "Getting down to the concerns, he (Brees) is unable to throw the ball on a rope or a tight-ball when throwing the out-routes, his passes float on him, or they have too much air under them. In the game today, the players are much quicker and faster, giving them time to recover on the ball and receiver."

"Between the hashes (hash-marks), Brees can be effective quarterback, but the good defensive coordinators in the game today will scheme to take those routes away, which leads to the defense squeezing the offense, consolidating the field of play. This is something the Chargers organization looked at during the off-season and came away of the belief his (Brees') arm strength is improving to that of being sufficient for the offensive scheme in San Diego."

Looking at the offensive philosophy presenting in place in San Diego, Brees is not asked to carry the offense or depended upon to attack the defense vertically with any consistency. Being a run-oriented offense with the talented LaDainian Tomlinson toting the football, Brees is only asked to manage the game. Positive results in the passing game feed off the rushing attack, when the running game is working, opportunities for Brees and the San Diego passing game improve.

"The game is relatively simple and hasn't changed much. If you can run the football, the odds increase you will be successful in the passing game, if you have the talent in place to throw the football, which the Chargers do not at this time," the scout continued. "Injuries and inconsistency have been an issue for the Chargers at the receiver positions, also playing from behind hasn't helped their cause."

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