All is not quiet on Chargers' homefront
Bolts coach wonders if club's on same page By Jim Trotter UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
February 26, 2006
INDIANAPOLIS – While seemingly everyone else was offering an opinion on the Drew Brees situation the past few weeks, Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer was relatively quiet.
Not so yesterday.
Choosing his words carefully, and pausing at times to weigh their potential impact, Schottenheimer said he wants Brees back and believes the Chargers will be even stronger with him.
Later, he acknowledged an icy relationship with General Manager A.J. Smith and said he was uncertain if everyone in the organization is pulling in the same direction.
“I think it's important that there always be communication between the coach and the general manager,” he said during a break at the annual NFL Scouting Combine. “I've sought to see that realized, but, quite frankly, there hasn't been as much communication as I would like.
Normally teams don't allow 27-year-old, Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks to test the market without protection, but the Chargers elected to do so because of what Smith calls “medical concerns” about Brees' throwing shoulder, which was surgically repaired after he tore his labrum in the season finale.
The sides have until Thursday night to agree on a contract; otherwise Brees would become an unrestricted free agent and free to sign with another club. If he departs, 2004 first-round draft choice Philip Rivers would assume the starting job.
“In my opinion, we're better off if Drew Brees is here,” he said. “We've all come to realize that it takes more than one quality quarterback in this league to be successful. If he's able to recover from this injury – and I'm optimistic about that – I think it gives us an advantage.”
Schottenheimer refused to speculate whether the Chargers – who with a little tweaking have the potential to make a deep run in the playoffs – would take a step back with Rivers behind center.
“I don't know that you can say that,” he said. “I would think that history would indicate that (you would struggle some), but every situation is different. That would be pure speculation on my part.
“What I do know is, we've certainly gone through a process in the development of Drew to get him to where he is, and it's very difficult to condense that time frame.”