It is widely held that San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers is the best signal caller in the NFL who has yet to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Despite a 2011 that all of San Diego would like to forget, Rivers hasn’t thrown for less than 4,000 yards in a season since 2007.
Many attribute Rivers success to his fiery attitude and linebacker-like bravado on the field. Some see him as true field general who leads his troops from the front, because there is no alternative. Others claim that Rivers is the beneficiary of the shear greatness that is Antonio Gates. The future Hall of Fame TE, has managed to find the endzone 17 times in just 26 games over the last two years. Regardless of who/what is responsible for No. 17’s prowess, or the Chargers success throughout his tenure, it is Rivers who owns every ebb and flow of the organization.
Rivers consistency and leadership have taken the Chargers to places a Norv Turner coached team has never gone before. And he did so while navigating the innovative personnel changes thrown his way.
Now, in the apparently waning moments of the A.J. Smith/Norv Turner regime, it is Rivers once again, who has to bare the torch and restore the once proud Chargers franchise to its rightful place atop the AFC West… All while throwing to Malcolm Floyd, Robert Meachem, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal.
The biggest question looming over the Chargers 2012 is: How much does Philip Rivers actually have to work with?
WR Malcolm Floyd optimizes the phrase “Flashes of Greatness.” His inability to stay healthy is a major concern, but if he can toe the line every week he has No.1 WR potential. Floyd’s 856 yards receiving were a career best in 2011 and his four 100 yard games show his big play ability.
Robert Meachem tries to step in to a starting role as the Chargers new No. 2 pass catcher. Meachem has also shown signs of becoming an elite NFL receiver. Drafted by the New Orleans Saints out of the University of Tennessee, Meachem did win a Super Bowl in 2009, but has seen his production drop over the last two seasons with the Sean Payton Offensive philosophy spreading the ball to other outlets in New Orelans. Meachem could be the breakout player the Chargers offense is looking for in 2012.
Vincent Brown, who is now expected to miss two months with a broken ankle, showed some acrobatic moves in his rookie campaign and figured to challenge for significant playing time based on his play this preseason. Though Brown corralled only 19 passes last year; his 69 catches, 1352 yards, and 10 TD’s as a San Diego State Senior in 2010, and his 2012 Preseason, speak for themselves.
Parrish and Royal are a wash. Both possess some slot and return skills, but neither figures to be the go to guy for Rivers.
Nothing against Antonio Gates and his inevitable day in Canton, but he can not catch the football if he’s not on the field. Health is a major question mark for the 32 year old veteran, as he enters his 10th season. Although if he can remain out of the Training Room – He is still Antonio Gates.
With the fragile, unreliable, and still unproven Ryan Matthews shelved with a broken collarbone; Ronnie Brown and LeRon McClain are thrust in to the spotlight- With a little Jackie Battle/Jacob Hester/Edwin Baker mixed in for good measure. How this backfield plays in the absence of Ryan Matthews, will give San Diego a clear indication of the Chargers’ chances to compete for the 2012 AFC West title.
A little underwhelming, isn’t it Charger Fans?
The Chargers come in to the 2012 season with a wide receiving corps that boasts only 12 combined 100 yard receiving games – Between FIVE receivers. Among those five players, there have been only 5 career multi-receiving TD games. None of these players has ever had a 1000 yard season as a receiver.
For perspective’s sake, Vincent Jackson has 14 100 yard efforts, seven multi TD games, and has been a 1000 yard receiver in three of the last four seasons.
Is this really the supporting cast given to the League’s best QB without a ring?
Todd Coshow is a Chargers Columnist for rantsports.com. He can be reached via email at email@example.com and follow Todd on twitter @TC_Coshow