When the San Diego Chargers play the New York Jets on Sunday, Philip Rivers will be tied for fifth with Tom Brady on the list of most consecutive regular season starts by a quarterback in NFL history.
This will be Rivers’ 111th consecutive start in the regular season and his 118th overall when the playoffs are included. San Diego was eliminated from playoff contention for the third season in a row after last Sunday’s loss.
Rivers played against the New England Patriots with a torn ACL during the 2007 season. Rivers is definitely one of the toughest guys in the league, but San Diego should think about benching him these last two games.
Football is a dangerous sport and the guys who signed up to play know this, but San Diego has nothing to gain by starting Rivers in meaningless games.
San Diego cannot even play spoiler like they did to the Oakland Raiders last season. If Oakland beat San Diego, they would have made the playoffs, but San Diego defeated them in the last game of the 2011 season.
New York and Oakland are the two teams remaining on San Diego’s schedule and both are eliminated from playoff contention.
San Diego already lost starting running back Ryan Mathews for the last two games because of a broken collarbone. Starting wide receiver Malcom Floyd and left tackle Jared Gaither are also done for the season. While Rivers has avoided injuries and Mathews, Floyd and Gaither are injury prone, San Diego cannot afford to have Rivers get injured.
If Rivers gets hurt in one of the final two games, they are not prepared for a future without him. Rivers’ backup is Charlie Whitehurst, who has a 1-3 career record as a starter with three touchdowns and four interceptions.
Rivers has the second longest consecutive starts streak among active quarterbacks and while it would be a shame to see this end, starting him in meaningless games is too much of a risk.
San Diego already needs to find a new general manager, a new head coach, improve their offensive line and improve their run game, so they cannot afford to add finding another QB to their list of off-season needs.