Regression has been the word used to describe San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers for the better part of the past three seasons. Although the term is befitting of every player on the Bolts during that period of time, no player has taken as much flack as Rivers for the team’s struggles. And rightfully so if you subscribe to the idea that the man most praised for success should be the one taking the brunt of the blame for failure. The main question facing both Rivers and the Chargers heading into 2013 is could this actually be a make or break year for the veteran signal caller?
While that phrase is thrown around quite loosely these days, the fact remains that the Bolts haven’t made the postseason for three years running and Rivers has turned the ball over more often than he has found the end zone in 2011 and 2012 combined. His 53 touchdowns over the past two seasons are trumped by a staggering 55 turnovers (35 interceptions, 20 fumbles) that have been daggers on many occasions to the hopes of the team when searching for a victory.
It’s certainly fair to say that the offensive line is a big reason why those turnover numbers have piled up, but this experienced team leader must be more judicious with the pigskin in 2013. Some of his ill-advised throws into traffic just don’t make sense upon further review. Even though he did take 49 sacks – second most in the league – last season, Rivers has can’t blame all of the poor throws or bad reads on a leaky offensive front.
Plenty of weapons have departed San Diego over the last few seasons as well with Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson being the two most recent examples of Pro Bowlers changing zip codes. The team will have plenty of capable – albeit unproven – talent on the 2013 roster for Rivers to work with in terms of receivers.
One man is quite confident that the veteran quarterback will re-find his mojo in the coming season. New offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt perhaps said it best when he commented: “It always starts with the quarterback.”
He knows just how valuable a good veteran is having spent the last few seasons as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals with a revolving door at the position. Sometimes having that constant is more valuable than one could imagine. Whisenhunt went on to say:
“One of the most exciting things for me after a tough year in this offseason is working with Philip. His knowledge of the game is incredible. He has a very good football mind, and he loves football. He’s very passionate about it. It’s great to have input from him on what he likes, what he’s seeing, what he’s thinking. And in putting that together, it’s been a great part of the process.”
Rivers was perhaps one of the closest bonds that former head coach Norv Turner had on the team being his lead instructor since the former NC State quarterback took over the starting job. Just seeing that he has been able to immediately find a new connection with the man who will be calling the plays on offense is a huge plus. The fact that Whisenhunt has the utmost confidence in Rivers doesn’t hurt matters either as the OC finished by saying:
“I think he can be a Pro Bowl quarterback. I think he can play at that level again. That’s certainly something I see from him, and hopefully we’ll be able to achieve that this year. Let me say this, from the standpoint of having been in this league for a long time and having seen good quarterbacks. This guy is up there, as far as his ability to process things, his ability to make all the throws that he needs to make and his ability to be a leader and rally these guys around him.”
Leadership has never been a question with Rivers, and his passion for the game is something he’s always worn on his sleeve. Expectations aren’t terribly high in San Diego this coming season, but it’s clear Whisenhunt believes the Bolts QB to be more than capable of taking this team back to the promised land. Let’s hope that bond sparks a renewed fire in Rivers that leads to bigger and better things for the Chargers in the coming season.