In 2006, Brees’ second season as Delaware’s starter and fourth overall, he led the Cherries to the Central Division title and their first EFL playoff berth since 1999. Statistically, he was not all that impressive last season — 2,819 yards with more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (17). He did, however, come up big in several clutch situations, notably drives for game-winning field goals against Albany and Pittsburgh — the latter in overtime on the road — on successive weeks in the second half of the season.
Brees’ departure leaves Delaware’s offense with a distinct experience deficit at the quarterback position. One can hardly call young Philip Rivers, the only signal caller on the current roster, the heir apparent. Rivers played in only the first and last games of the 2006 regular season, and though he showed flashes of brilliance, in the last game, which he started against New York, he personally turned the ball over six times — four interceptions and two fumbles. (To be fair, Rivers did not have his full complement of weapons because the Cherries had already clinched the division title and earned a home playoff game, and Brams chose to rest several key players, including LaDainian Tomlinson.)
There aren’t a lot of potential replacements for Brees among veteran quarterbacks. Steve McNair, the long-time starter for Nashville of the SFL, is the most well-known possibility. Jeff Garcia has declared himself eligible for the EFL draft as well. He played last season for Detroit of the MWFL after starring for several years in the PCFL. The crop of would-be rookies at the postion includes Aaron Rodgers from California, Tarvaris Jackson from Alabama State, and Jason Campbell from Auburn. Then there is always Charlie Batch, who, after serving in 2004 as Daunte Culpepper’s backup in Washington, was cut by the Caps the following year, and then attracted no takers in the 2006 draft.
So it is no wonder Brams said Rivers would have an opportunity to earn the starter’s role in training camp — I would not be surprised to see Rivers behind center in the season opener.
As to his former starter’s surprise defection, Brams seemed serene. “Yes it’s a bit of a shock, but [Brees] was a consummate team player here for four seasons and I wish him well. In fact, I’m grateful to him for declaring relatively early in the off-season.”
To my question about Brees’ prospects for SFL success, Brams said, “Oh I expect he’ll do real well. The SFL is more of a passer’s league than the EFL, and if he winds up in New Orleans, he’ll be in a wide open offense under Buck Caneer. Buck is one of the top offensive minds in the sport.”
Brams’ last remark was rather intriguing: “You know I got the impressive Drew would be happier in a larger market [than Delaware].”