There has been a lot of speculation about San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. Coming off his worst two seasons in his NFL career, many football experts feel that his time in the NFL is almost over. He has been turning the ball over at a much higher rate then in the past and he hasn’t been able to lead San Diego to success.
This upcoming season had been looked at as an opportunity for Rivers to bounce back and return to his old form. The Bolts added new head coach Mike McCoy and new offensive coordinator Ken Wisenhunt to make dramatic changes to the offense. These new additions are supposed to provide Rivers and the Bolts the chance to play at a much higher level. In addition to coaching changes, San Diego made major offseason adjustments on the offensive line, most notably by drafting D.J. Fluker in the first round of the draft. All of these improvements are supposed to give Rivers the tools he needs to make the Chargers offense successful.
After three preseason games however, Rivers has been unable to play at the level he needs to in order for the Chargers to be a competitor. So far this preseason he has completed 20 passes on 33 attempts for 166 yards, thrown 2 interceptions, and been sacked 3 times (one sack resulted in a fumble). His quarterback rating after three games has been 48.3. As Rivers’ career passer rating is 94.5, such a low number is of serious concern. Unless he can drastically improve his game in one week, the Bolts are going to be in for a very rough start against the Houston Texans.
Although these numbers are extremely alarming and Charger fans should be concerned for the team’s future, there are a few things to consider. First, Rivers has been playing bad, but he also hasn’t been playing that much. He hasn’t had enough passing attempts to really gage his ability. Many quarterbacks get more then 33 attempts in a single game so another way to look at this preseason is that Rivers is just having a “bad game.” Hopefully, he will be able to prove that he isn’t as bad as he has been playing against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday.
Another reason that he should play better once the season starts is that he will have more options to throw to at wide receiver. Malcolm Floyd has missed the past two preseason games with a knee injury. After Danario Alexander went down with a torn ACL, Floyd’s injury meant that Rivers would be throwing to the number 3 and 4 receivers as opposed to his number 1 and 2. To make matters worse, Eddie Royal suffered a concussion and bruised in practice that kept him out of the game last Saturday. It is almost unfair to criticize Rivers when of the top five receivers on the depth chart, only two are actually playing.
By the time week one rolls around, Rivers should be playing a better level then he is now. From what has happened so far it looks like he will not be as good as he was in his prime, but that doesn’t mean the Chargers are doomed. By week one Floyd should be back and perhaps Royal as well. Rivers will have more targets to throw to and will be more comfortable with his new offensive line. The Bolts won’t be ready to take down the Texans in the opener, but Rivers and San Diego will put up a good fight.