Is your quarterback elite?
That has become the fashionable question these days around the NFL. For the San Diego Chargers it’s a really difficult one to answer when discussing the man under center in Philip Rivers. Early in his career, the answer seemed to clearly be yes, but more recently, the tides have turned. Let’s attempt to reach a rational determination regarding Rivers and where he stands with the Bolts looking ahead to 2013.
For a three year span from 2008 to 2010, Rivers led the league in quarterback rating at 103.8. No quarterback seemed to play with as much confidence and certainly no signal caller had as much swagger as Rivers. Always a jovial trash talker, Rivers could be seen jawing with opponents asking them why they couldn’t stop him.
Over the past two years, that confidence and prowess have seemingly vanished. Rivers’ 47 turnovers over those last two seasons are second most in the league for any quarterback behind only New York Jets’ signal caller Mark Sanchez. Rivers has acknowledged that the past does weigh on his mind when dropping back to make a throw as he said: “When you’ve had turnovers, you kind of get in your mind that you don’t want to turn the ball over.” That hesitation, however slight it is, can be the difference between a confident looking completion or an unconvincing interception.
All of the recent struggles can’t simply be heaped onto Rivers however. The level of talent around him has quickly eroded from Pro Bowlers at nearly half a dozen positions to zero in 2012. His offensive line has been in shambles over the past two years and he only had his top target, Vincent Jackson, for a handful of games in 2011 before that same option left for greener pastures in free agency last offseason.
While the idea of Rivers being elite will remain up for debate until he actually brings a title to San Diego, it is clear that he can’t do it on his own. No quarterback can. There isn’t a position anymore highly scrutinized and there isn’t a position any more reliant on the success of the individuals around it than being a QB in the NFL.
What all of this means is that fans need to hope that a new front office with General Manager Tom Telesco and a new Head Coach in Mike McCoy can surround Rivers with the necessary pieces to regain his elite status. Otherwise this debate will become a thing of the past and the Chargers will remain mired in mediocrity.