Can The Chargers Flow With Rivers For The Long Haul?
San Diego Chargers
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By Dave Thomas
Philip Rivers, QB #17
Height: 6’ 5”
Weight: 228 lbs
Hometown: Athens, AL
College: North Carolina State
Experience: 9 years
As the evening neared an end, the speculation of the San Diego Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers had already begun.
After a demoralizing 35-24 loss at home to the Denver Broncos Monday in front of a nationwide crowd, fans couldn’t help but wonder they had just awoken from a nightmare. This was even scarier after Rivers accounted for six turnovers, including four interceptions.
To the fan who knows anything about the Chargers, the notion of Rivers not being under center for the next game (at Cleveland on Oct. 28), and for that matter the remainder of the season, seemed like something out of a fantasy land. Of course number 17 would be at the helm short of a serious injury.
But unlike past years when Rivers turned the ball over here and there, this time however, the fans were giving serious speculation as to whether or not the Bolts would actually be better served with someone other than Rivers under center.
Coming off of a career-high 20 interception season in 2011, Rivers and the Chargers said all the right things coming into the 2012 campaign. It was a new start, the troubles of last year were behind him, and even the loss of talented wide receiver Vincent Jackson would not derail this club from improving on last year’s 8-8 record, a mark that left the Bolts sitting at home for the second straight postseason.
So, where have the Chargers and the new season gotten them so far?
After running off to a 3-1 start in September, the Chargers have dropped back-to-back games, the most recent one perhaps the worst loss in Norv Turner’s tenure as head coach. Yes, the 27-3 loss last month to Atlanta was bad, but the Bolts were never really in the game other than the first quarter and a half. This loss Monday night for all the nation to see was far worse.
So, that takes everyone back to San Diego’s general in the huddle, aka Philip Rivers.
The Rivers Report Card After 6 Games
Through six games, Rivers has a quarterback passer rating of 85.3, has thrown for 1,493 yards and 10 TDs. Okay, those numbers do not sound atrocious until you get to the nine interceptions after six games. At the rate Rivers is going, he will obliterate last year’s mark if things do not improve.
For anyone who watched the loss Monday evening, several thoughts can be taken away:
A. Rivers must get near perfect protection from his offensive line in order to be effective. If there is the least bit of congestion, he seems at times to panic;
B. Rivers is trying too often to force the ball into spots where the defender has a better than 50 percent chance of picking it off;
C. Other than Malcom Floyd, Rivers’ receivers so far this season have been spent more time missing than Jimmy Hoffa;
D. For the first time that many Charger fans can remember, Rivers looked like a beaten man when shown on the sidelines as Denver wrapped up the game.
While San Diego fans can talk until they are blue in the face about whether or not letting Drew Brees go several years back was the right call or not, it does no good.
Philip Rivers is the emotional leader on this team, hence the Chargers go as Philip Rivers goes.
Perhaps the team’s bye week came at the best time possible. The week off will undoubtedly lead to some soul searching for both the players and coaching staff. At this point, both need to determine where they want the Chargers ship to sail over the next 10 games.
For Philip Rivers, guiding that ship to an AFC West title will be nothing short of a miracle, that is if Monday evening was a preview of what is yet to come over the next two-plus months.
For Charger fans, hopefully it truly was just a bad dream.
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Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.