Struggling teams must think long term

Updated: November 12, 2003, 1:02 PM ET
By Randy Mueller | ESPN NFL Insider
As we set sail on the downhill side of another unpredictable NFL season, most of our attention will be on teams looking for home-field advantage in the playoffs and on the wild-card races in both conferences. But teams not in a playoff run during the remaining weeks must answer as many questions about their team as possible and gather as much information as possible to help them make decisions in the offseason.

The teams we're referring to are probably your 2-7 or 3-6 teams, as we stand today. Usually it's that 8th loss that sends a team into thinking about next year. Nobody wants to be in this position but once you are you might as well make the best of it. Sometimes it's hard to look beyond this week.

This is when it gets tricky because, depending on whom you ask, any one question might get you three or four different answers. Players, coaches, fans, general managers and even owners might all view certain situations a bit differently. That's when the different agendas might come into play.

Even though Drew Brees has played at a Pro Bowl level, he's still looking over his shoulder.
Lets take the Chargers' decision -- if they elect to go this way -- to play Doug Flutie for the rest of this season.