October, 2, 2005
Chargers GM A.J. Smith can go on and on, as he did in this sharp story last week by Michael Smith, about how he doesn't know what he's going to do with Drew Brees and Philip Rivers. And it might be technically true. But after sitting in Gillette Stadium and watching Brees take apart a wounded but still dangerous Patriots defense, one thing is clear: If Brees keeps up with games like this, the Chargers will be his team for a long time, and come February, when he becomes a free agent, he'll be a very, very rich man.

Brees was a vision in San Diego's 41-17 wipeout of the defending champs. I knew Brees was in it when, on the Chargers' second possession, he dropped back to pass as the Pats blitzed, playing zone behind it. Everyone figured the Chargers' offensive line would have trouble with the Pats' front four -- almost universally considered the best in the NFL. When New England brought heat, well, the Chargers better get ready to react quickly.

But Brees was unbothered. He took his drop, stepped up in the pocket and artfully drifted left to avoid a collapsing pocket. Then he drilled a pass to Antonio Gates, a big target who, as Pats defenders closed in, quickly was becoming a smaller one.