Brees has AFC's second-lowest passer rating

Updated: December 12, 2003, 8:15 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Drew Brees is back as the San Diego Chargers' starting quarterback, and Doug Flutie is back on the bench.

Drew Brees
Brees

Brees regained his job on Friday, a move that was expected even though the 41-year-old Flutie led the last-place Chargers to two-thirds of their wins this year.

Brees, a third-year pro, hadn't played since getting yanked in the second half of a loss at Chicago on Nov. 2. Flutie led the Chargers (3-10) to two wins in the following five starts, including a 14-7 victory at Detroit last Sunday.

But coach Marty Schottenheimer named Brees to start Sunday at home against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers (7-6), who are trying to remain alive in the playoff race. The Chargers have won just five of their last 22 games and are tied with three other teams for the league's worst record.

"It's not a reflection on Doug Flutie's performance," Schottenheimer said. "Drew needed an opportunity to step back and look at it from a different perspective. Now it's time to do that. Let's find out exactly what kind of progress he made."

Schottenheimer hinted Monday that Brees might return, but wanted to see the two in practice during the week before making an announcement.

Schottenheimer wouldn't commit to Brees for the rest of the season, though, saying it was a week-to-week situation.

Asked how he explained the move to Flutie, Schottenheimer said: "Doug Flutie came in in a situation. We're fortunate to have him, but Drew Brees is our starting quarterback. He's gone through what any number of young quarterbacks will, and I thought now was the appropriate time."

Brees started all 16 games last year and has a 9-15 career record.

"Well, gosh, I'm happy to back in the saddle," Brees said. "It's good to be back involved and getting reps again and looking forward to a game that you know you'll play in and start in and hopefully be successful in."

In the three games before he was benched, Brees threw five interceptions and no touchdown passes. He's thrown 12 interceptions and seven TDs this year, and his passer rating dropped to 63.3, second-worst in the AFC.

"I think there's a lot that everybody learned by me sitting out," Brees said. "I'm going to take the things that I did learn and I know they're going to make me a better player."

The most valuable thing Brees learned, he said, was not to "overanalyze things. Take what you know, believe in it, go out and do it. Don't try to change things that made you successful from the very beginning."

Flutie, who has thrown nine touchdown passes and four interceptions this year, suspected early in the week the move might be coming.

"You want to be out on the field and play, but you totally understand the situation," Flutie said. "I know that Drew needs to get back out on the field and he needs to show this team that he can lead this team and regain all the confidence of the guys around him and for himself."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press