‘Cool Brees’ vs. ‘Panic Philip’

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 1, 2016

After the 2005 season, the San Diego Chargers made a decision that changed the history of the NFL—they released Drew Brees. Although this decision was not catastrophic for the Chargers—after drafting Philip Rivers fourth overall out of North Carolina State University in 2004—it could arguably be one of the most significant moves in NFL history.

During the 2004 NFL draft, the Chargers had the first overall pick, which they used to select Eli Manning. Well, in spite of that, Manning refused to play for the Chargers. They sent him to the Giants for a package that included the fourth overall pick—Philip Rivers. At this time, Brees was the starting quarterback for the Chargers, but two seasons later, Brees suffered a shoulder injury that led him to sign with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent.

On Sunday, Brees will enter Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego for the first time without a bolt on his helmet. The two teams have met twice in the regular season since Brees moved, in which the Saints came out on top both times. In 2008, Brees showed off his pro-bowl caliber in London as he completed 31 of 40 pass attempts for 339 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Saints to a 37-32 victory. In 2012, Brees dismantled the Chargers yet again with 370 passing yards and four touchdowns for a 31-24 triumph.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In week 4, the Saints walk into a must-win game, as they are still searching for their first victory of the season. However, even with a rich history of high performances from the Saints’ quarterback in this match-up, Who Dat nation should still be uncertain.

This season has been breathtaking for the Saints in all the wrong ways. In week 1, they lost 35-34 to the Oakland Raiders after a successful 2-point conversion with 47 seconds left in the game. To add to the pain, the Saints lost in week 2 to a field goal as time expired against the New York Giants.

Although the Saints have allowed the most points per game—32—I predict they will get their first victory of the season against the Chargers. However, with both teams struggling defensively, I lean more toward Brees coming out on top of what should be an offensive shootout.

The Chargers are running on a broken offense, losing their star wide receiver Kennan Allen and work horse Danny Woodhead to injuries. Also, the Chargers will most likely be missing future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates on Sunday. Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon stepped up and produced tremendous numbers, but I do not see him playing at this level as the season continues.

The x-factor of this game is the Saints’ newly acquired tight end Coby Fleener. Coming off a 109-yard game against their division rival, the Atlanta Falcons, he served as a safety blanket for Brees in the absence of receiver Willie Snead. The Chargers have allowed at least 87 yards in all three games so far to opposing tight ends, so expect Brees to continue throwing to Fleener.

These teams are evenly matched this season, which is the making of a great spectacle. The Saints’ leading receiver this season, Willie Snead—226 receiving yards for two touchdowns, has almost identical numbers to that of the Chargers leading receiver, Travis Benjamin—229 receiving yards for two touchdowns. Chargers’ running back Gordon has 194 rushing yards and four touchdowns this season versus Saints’ running back Mark Ingram who has 165 total rushing yards, but has yet to enter the paydirt this season. For me, this match-up comes down to “Cool Brees” versus “Panic Philip.” The Super Bowl XLIV MVP and seven-time Pro Bowler has the better receiver core in this week’s match-up, giving him the edge for Sunday.