Maybe no one in the NFL has more pressure on him to step up his game than Philip Rivers. The San Diego Chargers starting quarterback has clearly not been the same player over the past two seasons, turning the ball over 47 times in his last 32 games.
Say what you want about the poor offensive line play in front of him, but not all the blame can be placed on them. Sure, the offensive line hurt Rivers’ confidence, allowing him to hit the turf 49 times in 2013, but Rivers’ mechanics, decision-making and accuracy have all regressed.
Enter new head coach Mike McCoy and new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt to help fix Rivers and return him to elite status. Both are offensive gurus who know quarterbacks and are thrilled to get the opportunity to work with Rivers. So far, both have given him raving reviews, which should help revive Rivers’ confidence in his own self to get the job done.
Rivers, who is learning an entirely new offensive system, has picked up the new terminology very quickly. He said he enjoys the mental challenge and is “getting more and more comfortable” in McCoy’s system, according to U-T San Diego.
So far this offseason, Rivers has looked sharp, completing a high percentage of his throws and focusing more on short and intermediate routes rather than the long ball that has gotten Rivers into trouble as of late. With a new, yet still questionable, offensive line, the Chargers offense will likely incorporate more three- and five-step drops and ask Rivers to complete more short, safe passes to his receivers to keep the chains moving. That way, Rivers won’t be as exposed to the blitz, and Rivers won’t take too many unnecessary risks trying to push the ball downfield. Training camp will be a time to see how the offensive line gels together and figure out the best approach to take for Rivers to be successful.
So far, so good for Rivers this offseason, but he’ll still need to prove himself in the regular season. In his current contract, Rivers could be released following the 2013 season, and the team would only take a cap hit of $1.2 million. It would have been unthinkable three years ago to say that Rivers could be out as San Diego’s quarterback by 2014, but that could be the reality if he continues to struggle. This makes 2013 truly a make-or-break year for the once-elite quarterback.