Philip Rivers is entering his eighth season as the starting quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and this is arguably his most important year with the team.
San Diego has not made the playoffs since the 2009 NFL season. While Rivers was an elite QB in 2010, he did not play like one in 2011 and 2012. Rivers combined for 47 turnovers over the last two seasons trailing only New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez in this category.
One can point a finger at San Diego’s offensive line for some of Rivers’ turnovers because of their horrific performance last year when they ranked fourth in sacks allowed led to hurried plays. However, Rivers had more turnovers in 2011 when San Diego’s offensive line ranked third in fewest QB hits and eighth in fewest sacks allowed.
The 20 interceptions in 2011 were tied for third in the league with Washington Redskins QB Rex Grossman. Most of Rivers’ interceptions happened in the first half of the last two seasons. Rivers had 14 interceptions in the first half of 2011. He had six in the second half compared to 15 interceptions in the first half of 2012 and five in the last eight games.
San Diego’s front office attempted to improve the offensive line because four of the five players on this year’s line are new to the team or playing a new position.
The rushing attack took no pressure away from Rivers because San Diego ranked 31st in yards per rushing attempt and last in rushing touchdowns.
San Diego signed former New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead this year and it could help limit Rivers’ turnovers by throwing passes in the flat instead of deep routes. Woodhead averages about 11 yards per reception for his career, which brings a new dynamic to San Diego’s offense.
I believe Rivers is capable of cutting down on his interceptions because 2011 was the only time he had more than 15 in a season. The turnover battle will come down to fumbles because Rivers’ total increased every year since 2009 including a career-high 15 in 2012 which led to seven turnovers.