SAN DIEGO (AP) – There’s never a shortage of speculation about Drew Brees.

Will he stay? Will he go? Was he a one-year wonder in leading San Diego’s NFL rebirth? Did he happen to notice who from his own front office figuratively pushed him under the bus after his dismal 2003 offseason?

Brees listens to none of it as he efficiently leads the Chargers in their attempt to return to the playoffs. The motivation for games like last Sunday, when he threw four touchdown passes and few incompletions, comes from within, not from a desire to prove others wrong.

As he continues to keep Philip Rivers on the bench, Brees is prodded by nothing less than fear of failure.

“I’m a worrywart during the week,” Brees said. “We could be going up against the 32nd-ranked defense in the league, but still, you’re just thinking, OK, I’ve got to execute, what am I going to do against this, against that?’ You can never relax. You really can’t.

“The days before, you’re studying, you’re studying. You want to make sure that you have all your bases covered, so that once you do get into the game, everything just slows down. I don’t worry about that other stuff, because I’m scared of letting myself down, fear of failing, fear of letting the other guys down in the locker room. I could care less what everybody else thinks.”

Brees was nearly perfect Sunday, throwing TD passes to four receivers in a 48-10 win over the Buffalo Bills. He completed his first nine passes, 17 of 18 at one point and finished 28-of-33 for 339 yards. Overall, he hit eight receivers.

He did everything except answer the question about his future. Although Brees keeps making the case on the field for the Chargers to make him their long-term QB, general manager A.J. Smith said he won’t decide Brees’ future until the offseason.

Smith will at least acknowledge that Brees “is playing very well,” and that the Chargers (6-4) are “very, very pleased” with him as they try to get into playoff position.

“I think he’s been consistent, extremely accurate, very poised, in control of the game,” Smith said. “He stays away from major mistakes. The one thing that’s been really outstanding is his production. I think his numbers speak volumes.”

Brees has completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 2,438 yards and 18 touchdowns, with eight interceptions, for a passer rating of 100.0, third in the NFL. Last year, when he was voted the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year and went to the Pro Bowl, had a 65.5 completion percentage, threw for 3,159 yards and 27 TDs, with seven pickoffs, and a passer rating of 104.8

Smith has extended the contracts of several players, but Brees hasn’t been one of them. The fifth-year pro is playing under an $8 million, one-year contract after being designated the Chargers’ franchise player.

Smith won’t rush to judge at the QB spot because “there are so many more games to be played. You could go in reverse,” he said. “There’s so many options we can do at the quarterback position. Because we have the possibility to do those things, that’s why we’ll wait until the end of the year.”

Rivers has been in for one play this year, taking a knee to end Sunday’s blowout.

The Chargers could make Brees the franchise player again, give him a long-term deal or trade him and keep Rivers.

Or, they could keep Brees and Rivers for another year. That might go against conventional thinking, but the hard-line Smith doesn’t subscribe to the herd mentality. After all, he suspended star tight end Antonio Gates to settle a contract holdout, which in turn contributed to the Chargers losing their season opener to Dallas.

Brees has stated his case to stay by playing well.

“I’m just doing my job,” he said with a wry smile. “I’ve made it known that I want to be here. I envision myself here for a long, long time. I really hope that that’s what happens, but I’m prepared if that’s not what happens. If I’m not meant to be here, I’ll be elsewhere and I’ll win that championship somewhere else.”

San Diego’s star players are aware of the benefits of continuity.

“I believe in chemistry,” Gates said. “There’s no knock on anybody else, it’s just that the chemistry is there. Once you bond with a certain guy you’ve been around – it doesn’t mean you can’t bond with another guy – it’s that you’d like to continue that bond.”

Brees would like to remain part of the core group that gives the Chargers their leadership, poise and character.

“I think that’s something we have and I think that’s something we could have for a long time together,” he said.

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